Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement at the 6th World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet, in Ottawa, Canada from April 26-28. The statement was read on Leader Pelosi's behalf at the conference on Friday, April 27th.:
"Thank you for your invitation to be with you today for the 6th World Parliamentarian's Convention on Tibet. And thank you for your work in bringing together such a distinguished group of parliamentarians and advocates for the cause of Tibet.
"This multilateral approach is an essential mechanism for advocating for the Tibetan people and ensuring that world parliamentarians speak with one voice.
"For all of us here today, it is an extraordinary privilege to be in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness is one of the greatest voices for democracy and human rights across the globe. His clarion call for the freedom of Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world.
"We have a shared responsibility to answer that call, stemming from our belief in shared values. The freedom to assemble peacefully and demand basic human rights. The freedom to practice your faith. The freedom to live in security in your homeland. These values - like the challenge of Tibet - are not limited by borders and are not limited to any one country or parliament.
"In the United States Congress, our solidarity with this mission has led us to stand as a vanguard for global action on Tibet. It led us to award the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 - the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. And I was proud to join President George Bush in presiding over the Gold Medal ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda.
"Our relationship has been advanced and strengthened by leaders in the U.S. Congress. Over the years, we have institutionalized support for Tibet, ensuring that this cause crosses party lines and sessions of Congress. Back in 1987, under the leadership of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, we were proud to host the Dalai Lama to hear him lay out his five point peace plan to resolve the crisis in Tibet. Since that time, the U.S. Congress has spoken with a unified voice by passing resolutions and holding hearings calling for respect for the religious and political freedom of the Tibetan people. Ten years ago, we passed the Tibetan Policy Act - to invest in Tibet's economic development, assist refugees, and officially make Tibet a national priority for the United States.
"With our votes, we enshrined support for Tibet as the law of our land.
"Building on that support, every year, regardless of which party is in the majority, the Congress passes legislation to assist the transit process for Tibetan refugees crossing the border; provide development grants to preserve cultural traditions and environmental conservation inside Tibet; and promote a series of initiatives related to education, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Tibetan language broadcasts by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.
"Moving forward, Congress will continue to extend our bonds of friendship and provide a bedrock of support for the Tibetan cause.
"Today, our actions - in the U.S. and around the world - are as critical as ever. More than 50 years after Tibetans bravely assembled to protest Chinese rule, China's harsh crackdown continues. And the situation has deteriorated in recent months as the Chinese government has increased its military presence in Tibet; Tibetans have resorted to the practice of self-immolations to draw attention to their plight; and China has engaged in a more aggressive campaign to pressure foreign governments to move the issue of Tibet off the radar.
"As parliamentary leaders, we cannot - we must not - let this status quo go unanswered.
"And over the next few days, leaders at this convention are engaging in innovative and strategic discussions about the challenges in China and Tibet, culminating in the 2012 Ottawa Declaration and an action plan.
"Our voices will be strong because we have the moral high ground, but also because we are standing together with a unified voice.
"Standing together, we must send a clear, effective message to the Chinese government - to cease religious repression; allow access to journalists, diplomats, and international observers; release political prisoners of conscience, including the 11th Panchen Lama.
"Standing together, parliaments and legislatures - the voices of freedom-seeking citizens around the world - must keep working multilaterally on measures to support the men and women of Tibet and the Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal.
"Standing together, we will remain steadfast partners of the Tibetan people.
"His Holiness the Dalai Lama embodied the spirit of all Tibetans when he said: ‘I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest.' For 53 years, His Holiness has remained separated from his land and his home. Yet he has found hope, even in the darkest hours.
"The parliamentarians of the world are here today because they have hope for a brighter future in China and Tibet.
"Thank you for your participation today and I look forward to working with you to shine a light for the freedom of the Tibetan people."