US Senator tells China to stop targeting Tibetan protesters and allow access to journalists

US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

DHARAMSHALA, February 2: In a ‘Resolution Expressing Support for the People of Tibet,’ US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday expressed “deep concern” about the current situation in Tibet and “steadfast support” for the Tibetan people.

Blaming China’s “harsh and counterproductive” policies for the recent escalation in protests in Tibet, the Senator called on Chinese security forces to “exercise maximum restraint and stop targeting Tibetan protesters.”

While affirming that “violence is not the answer to the legitimate grievances of the Tibetan people,” Senator Feinstein urged the Senate to “call on Beijing to respect the right of Tibetans to practice their own religion freely and preserve their distinct cultural and linguistic identity”.

Introducing the Resolution, Senator Feinstein, who in the 1990s, carried three letters to President Jiang Zemin from the Dalai Lama requesting a face to face meeting, urged China to resume dialogue with the Tibetan spiritual leader.

“This resolution calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to suspend implementation of religious control regulations, reassess religious and security policies implemented since 2008 in Tibet, and resume a dialogue with Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including the Dalai Lama or his representatives, to resolve underlying grievances,” the tabled resolution read.

Senator Feinstein noted that Chinese policies on Tibet are intended to “suppress the Tibetan culture and people” and have created an “environment of despair, hopelessness, and frustration” among many Tibetans.

The resolution also called on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to “allow unrestricted access” to journalists, foreign diplomats, and international organisations to Tibet in view of the heightened security measures and military clampdown in Tibet.

Since March 2011, 16 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze calling for the return of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.

Following the fiery wave of self-immolations, Tibetans have come out on the streets, expressing solidarity with the self-immolaters and calling for continued activism and a boycott of celebrations during the Tibetan new year ‘Losar’ later this month. 

At least a dozen Tibetans are feared to have been killed in Chinese police firings on unarmed Tibetan demonstrators in three separate incidents in Serthar, Ngaba and Drongo region of Tibet, last week.

While reaffirming the “unwavering friendship between the people of the United States and the people of Tibet,” Senator Feinstein along Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) cosponsors of the resolution, also urged the US administration to work with foreign allies to put pressure on China to begin genuine negotiations with the Dalai Lama.

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