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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

China out to dissipate Tibet as we know it, top US hearing told

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(TibetanReview.net, Mar29’23) – Hollywood star and Tibet activist Richard Gere has on Mar 28 accused China of carrying out a panoply of cruelties in Tibet that included separating children from their families, prohibiting their language, destroying religious sites and engaging in nonconsensual DNA collection as US Congress debated ways to pressure Beijing to address the underlying crisis in the Himalayan region. Testifying at the same event – the bipartisan US Congressional-Executive Commission on China – the executive head, Sikyong Penpa Tsering, of the Central Tibetan Administration has warned that Tibet was dying a “slow death” under Chinese rule.

73-year-old Gere has accused Beijing of “cruelty, collective violence and persecution” of the Tibetan people, whom he has said were repressed by a “pervasive surveillance system.”

“Identifiable mechanisms like arbitrary detention, forcible transfer, rape, torture, disappearance are all tools that have been well-documented throughout the course of Beijing’s assimilation practices,” the AFP quoted Gere as saying.

Chinese policies in Tibet increasingly “match the definition of crimes against humanity,” Reuters quoted Gere as saying.

He has called on the United States and its allies to “speak with a unified voice” on the need for Beijing to resume talks leading to “meaningful autonomy” for Tibetans.

Congress should pass legislation underscoring US support the Tibetan people, he has said, urging Washington to press China at the United Nations to halt the expulsion of nomadic herders from their ancestral lands.

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In his testimony, Sikyong Penpa Tsering, speaking via video link, has said, “If PRC (the People’s Republic of China) is not made to reverse or change its current policies, Tibet and Tibetans will definitely die a slow death.”

Uzra Zeya, US undersecretary of State for democracy and human rights, has told the hearing that China continued to “wage a campaign of repression that seeks to forcibly Sinicize” the 6 million Tibetans in the country and eliminate Tibetan religious, cultural and linguistic heritage.

Republican Representative Chris Smith, who chairs the commission, has said there was a global focus on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, but “we cannot take our eyes off the ongoing genocide being committed against Tibetan people.”

Others who addressed the hearing, which was on Preserving Tibet: Combating Cultural Erasure, Forced Assimilation and Transnational Repression, included Lhadon Tethong, Director of Tibet Action Institute, and Tenzin Dorjee, Senior Researcher and Strategist at Tibet Action Institute.

* * *

Meanwhile during a press conference on Mar 28 afternoon, House Republican Michael McCaul who chairs the House foreign affairs committee told actor Richard Gere that his panel would debate a proposed bill that, if made law, would amend existing US policy on Tibet to actively counter what the congressman said was a disinformation campaign from China, reported the courthousenews.com.

“Our bill rejects the [Chinese Communist Party’s] claims that their tyranny over Tibet is a legitimate government, and asserts that the people of Tibet have a say in their future,” McCaul has said. “We cannot allow the CCP to suppress the vibrant history and resiliency of the Tibetan people or Tibetan Buddhism.”

If approved, the legislation sponsored by McCaul and Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern would enshrine Tibet’s right to self-determination in US policy and would reject China’s historical claim over the region.

“When it comes to Tibet, we are running out of time, and we need to do something different,” McGovern has said at the press conference. “Let’s get this bill passed and send a clear and unambiguous message to the people of Tibet and the Chinese government that the whole world is watching what happens. We will not remain silent.”

Also, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, who supports the proposed bill, has said at the press conference, “We need to realize that this is an unresolved conflict, not an internal affair. … We must refresh US policy towards Tibet and we must push for negotiations that advance freedoms for the Tibetan people and a peaceful resolution to China’s conflict.”


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