In the speech, made on the floor of the Senate on March 17, 2011 and also published in the Congressional Record, Senator Feinstein referred to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's message to the Tibetan Parliament on devolving his formal authority to an elected Tibetan leader. She said, "I applaud His Holiness for this decision and I stand ready to do my part to help the Tibetan community in exile transition to a new political structure."
Senator Feinstein also backed the Dalai Lama's call, made in his statement on March 10, 2011 the anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising, for fact-finding delegations to Tibet. She said, "I also support His Holiness' call for fact-finding delegations to Tibet, including representatives of international parliamentarians, to see for themselves the current situation on the ground.
"As His Holiness pointed out, similar delegations visited Tibet in the late 1970s and early 1980s and I strongly encourage China to allow them again.
"I believe such delegations could increase awareness about the challenges facing Tibetans and Tibetan culture and enhance dialogue and cooperation with China on finding mutually beneficial solutions," said Feinstein, who is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Following is the full text of Senator Feinstein's statement.
112th Congress (2011-2012)
TIBET -- (Senate - March 17, 2011)
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I rise today to express my continuing concern about the current situation in Tibet. Before I do so, I would like to bring to the attention of my colleagues a recent statement made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his political future.
In his March 10 statement marking the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, His Holiness announced his intention to propose amendments to the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, handing over his formal authority to an elected leader.
Let me read a portion of his message to the Fourteenth Assembly of the Tibetan People's Deputies: The essence of a democratic system is, in short, the assumption of political responsibility by elected leaders for the popular good. In order for our process of democratization to be complete, the time has come for me to devolve my formal authority to such an elected leadership.
I applaud His Holiness for this decision and I stand ready to do my part to help the Tibetan community in exile transition to a new political structure.
I take great comfort in the knowledge that His Holiness will continue his role as spiritual leader to the Tibetan people and will work tirelessly to preserve the Tibetan culture both inside and outside of Tibet.
I also support His Holiness' call for fact-finding delegations to Tibet, including representatives of international parliamentarians, to see for themselves the current situation on the ground.
As His Holiness pointed out, similar delegations visited Tibet in the late 1970s and early 1980s and I strongly encourage China to allow them again.
I believe such delegations could increase awareness about the challenges facing Tibetans and Tibetan culture and enhance dialogue and cooperation with China on finding mutually beneficial solutions.
Indeed, as a friend of His Holiness and as a friend of all Tibetan people, I remain deeply concerned about the situation in Tibet. In 2008, a wave of violence swept across Tibet which was met with violence by the Chinese government. Reports out of Tibet continue to paint a picture of the suppression the Tibetan culture and people are confronted with. And despite nine rounds of talks between the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China and envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama , a comprehensive solution to the Tibetan issue remains out of reach. As a friend of China and the Dalai Lama , I am saddened to see the situation in Tibet further deteriorate.
The Dalai Lama has been trying to engage the Chinese leadershipfor more than 50 years. In the 1990s, I carried three letters to President Jiang Zemin from the Dalai Lama requesting a face-to-face meeting. In my view, the Dalai Lama's concerns are driven by the fact that the Chinese Government continues to suppress the Tibetan way of life.
Yet he has made it clear that he does not support independence for Tibet, but rather meaningful cultural and religious autonomy for the Tibetan people within the People's Republic of China. This can only come about through meaningful dialogue and negotiation, not actions that would undermine Tibetan culture.
As such, I urge the administration to support fact-finding delegations to Tibet and work with our friends and allies in the international community to call on the Chinese Government to begin a substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama on national reconciliation, respect for the Tibetan culture, and meaningful autonomy for Tibet. I have been blessed to call the Dalai Lama a friend for more than 30 years. I first met him during a trip to India and Nepal in the fall of 1978.
During that trip I invited His Holiness to visit San Francisco--where I was mayor at the time--and he accepted. In September 1979, I was delighted to welcome the Dalai Lama to San Francisco to receive his first public recognition in the United States.
During our many conversations, His Holiness often reiterates that, at its core, Buddhism espouses reaching out to help others, particularly the less fortunate. And it encourages us all to be more kind and compassionate. His teachings truly cross all religions, cultures, and ethnic lines.
Over the decades, his principled beliefs have never wavered, yet his teachings have become more expansive. His message of peace and understanding has never been more relevant than it is today.
In the midst of war and bloodshed, the Dalai Lama has been a champion for peace and nonviolence. In his quiet but undeniably firm manner, he challenges all of us to look beyond conflict and harmful rhetoric to seek positive change by embracing dialogue, cooperation, and negotiated solutions. In the face of hatred and intolerance, he has faith in love, compassion, and respect. He reminds people from all corners of the globe to move beyond our ethnic, religious, and racial divisions and embrace our common humanity. He encourages us to believe in something bigger than ourselves and work together for a better future.
He sets a wonderful example for all of us, and I am proud to call him friend. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the Dalai Lama in working toward a humanitarian solution to the problems plaguing Tibet and the Tibetan people.