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14_November_2012_002Dharamshala: Former United States (US) House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said that the US has a "special responsibility" to protect the human rights of people in Tibet.

In a statement welcoming the Central Tibetan Administration's (CTA's) Flame of Truth Relay to San Francisco on Saturday, November 10, the current House Democratic Minority Leader, a long-time critic of Chinese policy in Tibet, expressed her pride at the fact that the international relay ended its US tour in the city she represents, adding: "The people of Tibet have legitimate grievances after decades of harsh rule.

"They have been economically marginalised in their own land, imprisoned for peacefully expressing their political views, and forced to endure "political education" campaigns to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"The US, a country rooted in the values of liberty, equality, and human rights, has a special responsibility to protect and promote those values, both at home and abroad."

Echoing her words of nearly five years ago when she stood beside the Dalai Lama in McLeod Ganj, India, following the crackdown on Tibetans protesting Beijing's hosting of the Olympic Games in March 2008, (when her words were printed on pro-Tibet posters and T-shirts), Pelosi described the ongoing crisis in Tibet as "a challenge to the conscience of the world," adding: "Throughout my twenty five years in Congress, I have made the cause of Tibet a top priority, and I am proud to represent a city that strongly advocates the protection of human rights.

"We are proud that the San Francisco Bay Area is home to the third community of Tibetans in the US and we stand in solidarity with the people of Tibet."

Several hundred Tibet supporters joined the Flame of Truth relay, marching from San Francisco's United Nations Plaza to the Chinese consulate, calling on the United Nations and the US to pressurise China into improving conditions in Tibet.

Speaking to the San Francisco Gate, the CTA's North American representative, Tashi Namgyal, stated that the aim of the electric torch relay is to "dispel the darkness surrounding Tibet."

Alluding to the spate of self-immolations in Tibet, in which 72 Tibetans have set themselves alight protesting Chinese rule in their country since March 2011, he added: "It also symbolizes that Tibet is burning now."
The event was also attended by mayor of the nearby city of Richmond, Gayle McLaughlin, who expressed her sympathy for the Tibetan self-immolaters, saying: "I'm torn apart that the repression is so bad that these young people are driven to take their own lives and make such a powerful statement."

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