Dharamshala — “To some in China, the authentic, autonomous Tibet is inconceivable. To us, it is inevitable. So we must shorten the distance between the inconceivable to them, and the inevitable to us,” said Leader Nancy Pelosi during the felicitation ceremony welcoming a U.S. Congressional delegation to Dharamshala.
This morning, May 10th, the Main Temple in McLeod Ganj was filled with fluttering flags from both the United States and Tibet as an audience of nearly 5,000 strong awaiting the arrival of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the delegation of eight United States Congressmen and Congresswomen.
Leader Pelosi, the first ever female Speaker of the House and longtime Tibet supporter recalled her fondness for the Tibetan spiritual leader. "Anytime anywhere a person can be in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a special occasion. I am proud to be here with the delegation from across America.”
“When we see the spark in the eyes of the children yesterday at the Tibetan Children’s Village, the children’s vision, we saw hope that they will one day return home to Tibet. When we saw the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts last night and today, we saw the hope that they would bring the authenticity of the Tibetan art home to Tibet. When we heard the leadership of President Dr Sangay, we saw hope for the progress of freedom for Tibet,” she explained.
“China uses its economic leverage to silence the voices of the friends of Tibet. But if we do not speak out against oppression in Tibet and the rest of China, because of China’s economic power, we lose all moral authority to talk about human rights anywhere in the world. We will not be silenced, you will not be silenced.
“To some in China, the authentic, autonomous Tibet is inconceivable. To us, it is inevitable. So we must shorten the distance between the inconceivable to them, and the inevitable to us.”
Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the democratically elected President of the Tibetan people, addressed the crowd and dignitaries in his opening remarks, saying, “Your delegation sends a message of hope to Tibetans inside Tibet. Your delegation sends a message of justice to China, and your delegation sends a message of freedom to the world.
“Buddhism is 2,500 years old, Communism is just a hundred. There is no competition between the two. After communism is gone, Tibetan Buddhism will be there for another 2000 years. Tibet will be there. Tibetan people will be there. Tibetan spirit will be there.“
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (Republican, Wisconson), the co-leader of the delegation, began the Congressional speeches, saying, “I am the one Republican on this delegation, and I am here with honor and with gratitude because I wish to assure Your Holiness, everybody present here and everyone who may be listening, that there is no disagreement between the political parties in the US Congress on our love and respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as our solidarity with the cause of the Tibetan people to be free from the repression that has been put upon them for a very long time.
“We are with you, Your Holiness, and we are with all of you so that you can reach your aspirations, so that you can go home to Tibet, and be able to freely practice your religion, keep your culture alive, educate the kids and remember: receive justice, because with justice comes freedom.”
Representative Jim McGovern (Democrat, Massachusetts) also addressed the gathering, saying: “We have come to Dharamshala, because we believe in you and we stand with you. We stand with President Lobsang Sangay, and we stand with all the Tibetan people. And we pledge to work for the day that His Holiness and all Tibetans can go back to Tibet and can freely practice their religion, celebrate their culture, traditions and language, and yes have genuine autonomous status according to the Middle Way Approach.”
Representative Eliot Engel (Democrat, New York) delivered the strongest message of the day, saying simply, “I have a message for the leadership in of Beijing, it’s very simple: get out of Tibet.”
Next, Representative Pramila Jayapal (Democrat, Washington) expressed her gratitude for being able to grow up beside Tibetan people and their resiliency in her birth country, India, and said, “We stand for the Tibetan people, we stand for freedom and justice, we stand for human rights, and we will raise our voices and use power, as a country that has that power in the world, to fight for the Tibetan people to return to Tibet, and to practice your religion and your culture in peace.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama also addressed the audience, speaking in Tibetan, as according to him after everyone else’s eloquent speeches, he “felt discouraged to speak in English.”
“America is a leading nation of the free world and plays a pivotal role in the promotion of peace around the world. U.S. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi has been one of the longest friend and supporter of the Tibetan people, who has stood with us in the most critical of times and situations. I thank all of you today for expressing your genuine support for the Tibetan cause and solidarity for Tibetans inside Tibet,” His Holiness said.
“It is important to remember that Tibet supporters are not merely supporting us because of attachment; they are supporting the spirit of truth and justice, which is the core strength of our struggle. The Tibetan struggle represents that of truth, justice, non-violence and Tibetan people’s determination to preserve this culture has generated intense support for Tibet from people of all corners of the world.
"Today, it is a conviction in these values that gives me the powerful motivation to promote basic human values. Even in my own struggle for the rights and greater freedom of the Tibetan people, these values continue to guide my commitment in pursuing a non-violent path,” His Holiness added.
“My sincere hope is that the future of Tibet and China will move beyond mistrust to a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and recognition of common interests.”
“In our newly emerging global community, all forms of violence, including war, are totally inappropriate means of settling disputes. Today in the 21st century there is great use of weapons and violence, which has killed more than 20 million people. Did that violence solve the conflicts? No. According to my personal experiences the best way to overcome conflicts is to bring about mutual understanding through dialogue and not violence.”
Thanking the delegation for supporting the Tibetan cause and being longtime friends, he concluded the public gathering, giving Tibetan scarves, khataks, to each of the delegation members.
The eight member bipartisan delegation, co-led by Leader Pelosi and high ranking Republican, Jim Sensenbrenner, also included Representatives Eliot Engel, Jim McGovern, Betty McCollum, Judy Chu, Joyce Beatty and Pramila Jayapal.
Leader Pelosi is a longtime supporter of Tibet and friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and this visit marked her second led delegation to Dharamshala. She also travelled with a delegation to Tibet last year.