CECC Chairman Sander Levin Speaks in Support of House Resolution on Tibet

Congressional-Executive Commission on China | www.cecc.gov

CECC Chairman Sander Levin Speaks in Support of House Resolution on Tibet

April 9, 2008

(Washington, DC)—The House of Representatives today voted to approve House Resolution 1077, “Calling Upon Chinese Government to End Crackdown in Tibet and Begin Substantive Dialogue with the Dalai Lama,” by a vote of 413-1. The resolution calls on China to end its crackdown in Tibet; enter into a substantive dialogue directly with the Dalai Lama; allow independent monitors, journalists and medical personnel into Tibet; and release all Tibetans who were arrested for non-violently expressing their political views.

Congressman Sander Levin, Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, spoke on the House floor in support of the resolution. Following are Chairman Levin’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

"Chinese law includes protections for the distinctive culture, language and identity of ethnic minority citizens. China's Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law guarantees ethnic minorities the ‘right to administer their internal affairs.' More specifically, the term ‘regional ethnic autonomy,’ as the law itself defines it, ‘reflects the state's full respect for ethnic minorities’ right to administer their internal affairs.’ Madame Speaker, China in recent weeks has reflected anything but “the state’s full respect” of ethnic minority rights, nor of basic human rights standards recognized in both Chinese and international law.

"Let us be absolutely clear: Tibetan protests continue not because China is hosting the Olympics. Tibetan protests continue not as a result of foreign influence. Tibetan protests began and continue for one reason: in spite of what the Chinese government has written in its laws, in practice it has created an ethnic autonomy system that denies fundamental rights to ethnic minorities. This could not be more clear than it has become in the last several weeks, and the time for change is now.

"Protest activity has included instances of rioting resulting in destruction of property and death of Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike. This is unacceptable in any context. Most protest activity, however, while at times disorderly, has been non-violent. The Chinese government’s reaction, however, has revealed a level of hostility toward Tibetans not seen in decades, and has heightened fears for the Tibetan people.

"The Chinese government would do well to consider a number of concrete steps to address the current crisis. I would ask, Madame Speaker, that a list of such steps, prepared by the staff of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, be submitted for the record [this document included below].

"I would urge all my colleagues and the general public to take full advantage of the Commission’s analysis not only of events in Tibetan areas, but across China. We cannot let recent events distract us from abuses of law and fundamental rights of the Uighur people of China’s Xinjiang province and other areas of China, and of the Han Chinese themselves. The Commission monitors and reports on human rights and rule of law developments in China on an ongoing basis, and I encourage all frequently to visit the Commission’s website—www.cecc.gov—to subscribe to the on line newsletter, and use the Commission’s work to remain up-to-date on developments in China.

"Finally, the resolution of Tibetan grievances can occur only with direct talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama. Moreover, as China plays an increasingly important role in the international community, other countries will appropriately assess China’s fulfillment of the commitments it has made in both Chinese and international law, including legal and constitutional commitments to ethnic minorities. The international spotlight will remain long after the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Summer Games. We hope that the Chinese government will welcome such attention with a full commitment to openness, and to the implementation of basic human rights”

Floor Statement of Representative Sander Levin
Chairman, Congressional-Executive Commission on China

April 8, 2008

Addressing Tibetan Protests

1. Distinguish between peaceful protestors and rioters, honor the Chinese Constitution’s reference to the freedoms of speech and association, and do not treat peaceful protest as a crime;

2. Provide a detailed account of Tibetan protest activity in each location where such activity took place;

3. Provide details about each person detained or charged with a crime, including each person’s name, the charges (if any) against each person, the name and location of the prosecuting office (“procuratorate”) and court handling each case, and the name of each facility where a person is detained or imprisoned;

4. Allow access by diplomats and other international observers to the trials of people charged with protest-related crimes;

5. Allow international observers and journalists immediate and unfettered access to Tibetan areas of China;

6. Ensure that security officials fulfill their obligations under Articles 64(2) and 71(2) of China’s Criminal Procedure Law to inform relatives and work places (monasteries in the case of monks) where detainees are being held;

7. Encourage and facilitate the filing of compensation suits under Chinese law in cases of alleged wrongful arrest, detention, punishment and other official abuses during the recent protests;

8. Permit international observers to monitor closely the implementation of China’s new Regulation on Open Government Information, which comes into force on May 1, 2008, with special emphasis on implementation in Tibetan areas.

9. Strictly enforce the Regulations on Reporting Activities in China by Foreign Journalists During the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period, with special emphasis on access to and in Tibetan areas of China.

10. Commence direct talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.

Click here to view this press release on Congressman Levin's web site.