Press Releases

Washington, DC – The Senate today unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution sponsored by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and a group of 20 other Senators condemning the violence in Tibet. The resolution also calls on China to open substantive dialogue with His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet. 

The resolution is cosponsored by Senators Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Robert Byrd (D-W.V.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin  (D-Ill.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), and Russ Feingold (D-Mich.).

“Over the past month, a wave of protests spread across Tibet. Regrettably, these protests were met with violence and a crackdown by the Chinese. The Senate is now on record condemning this violence and urging a process of reconciliation and dialogue,” Senator Feinstein said. “It is my hope that the highest leadership of the Chinese Government will sit down with His Holiness the Dalai Lama face-to-face and negotiate how to bring about meaningful cultural and religious autonomy for the Tibetan people. For more than three decades, I have worked to bring this about. And I remain firmly committed to doing anything that I can to help bring the two sides together.”

Senator Smith said, “The unrest and violence in Tibet is the direct result of over fifty years of Chinese oppression of Tibetan ethnic, cultural, and political rights. The Chinese government has long sought acceptance among the ranks of global leaders, but these events are not the actions of a world leader. The violence must stop.”

Following is the full text of the resolution approved today by the Senate:

“Whereas, beginning on March 10, 2008, Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhist monks began demonstrations in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China;

Whereas those protests spread to elsewhere in the Tibet Autonomous Region and to Tibetan autonomous areas in the Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghan provinces of China;

Whereas, long-suppressed resentment prompted violent clashes between demonstrators and government forces in the streets of Lhasa, resulting in innocent civilian casualties, the burning of buildings, and extensive property damage;

Whereas Chinese and Tibetan sources report dozens of fatalities, and the arrest of more than 1,000 protesters in the Tibet Autonomous Region and surrounding Tibetan areas of China;

Whereas Tibet is the center of Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama is the most revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism;

Whereas, the Government of China continues to restrict the rights of Tibetan Buddhists to practice their religion freely;

Whereas the Dalai Lama has condemned the violence that began on March 14, 2008, and announced his continuing support for the Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, China;

Whereas the Dalai Lama has specifically stated that he does not seek independence for Tibet from China and has called for negotiations to bring about meaningful autonomy for Tibet that allows Tibetans to maintain their distinctive identity within China;

Whereas the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China guarantees freedom of religious belief for all citizens, but the 2007 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom of the Department of State states that “[d]uring the period covered by this report, the Government [of China]’s respect for freedom of religion remained poor”; and

Whereas, following the demonstrations that began on March 10, 2008, the Government of China began severely restricting access to journalists and diplomats and creating a shortage of independent verification of the situation on the ground in Tibet: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) condemns the violence in Tibet and calls for restraint by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the people of Tibet;

(2) calls for a dialogue between the leadership of the Government of China and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on meaningful religious and cultural autonomy for Tibet within China and urges that these discussions take place with all deliberate speed;

(3) calls for the release of individuals who protested in a peaceful manner and for medical care for those injured and wounded in the violence that followed the protests;

(4) calls on the Government of China to cease its efforts to enter monasteries to ‘reeducate’ monks and nuns, to respect the right of the people of Tibet to speak of the Dalai Lama and possess his photograph, and to respect and protect basic human rights, as provided in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China;

(5) calls on the Government of China to honor its commitment to allow international journalists free access to China from mid-2007 to October 17, 2008;

(6) calls on the Government of China to provide a full accounting of the March 2008 protests in Tibet, the response of the Government of China, and the manner and number of detentions and deaths that occurred following the protests; and

(7) both—
(A) calls on the United States Department of State to fully implement the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 (22 USC 6901 note), including the stipulation that the Secretary of State “seek to establish an office in Lhasa, Tibet to monitor political, economic, and cultural developments in Tibet”, and also to provide consular protection and citizen services in emergencies, and

(B) urges that the agreement to permit China to open further diplomatic missions in the United States should be contingent upon the establishment of a United States Government office in Lhasa, Tibet.”