Ngawang Sangdrol, former Tibetan political prisoner and one of the Drapchi 14 nuns, will testify before a full hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in Washington, D.C. on November 18, 2004. The Commission will be looking into Chinese Government’s policy towards religious practitioners.
CECC was created by Congress in October 2000 to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. It consists of nine Senators, nine members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by President Bush. The current Chair is Congressman Jim Leach (R-Iowa), and the Co-Chair is Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska).
Sangdrol will be testifying before the Commission along with Ms. Preeta Bansal, Chair, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Pastor Bob Fu, President, China Aid Association in Midland, Texas, and, Mr. Joseph Kung, President, the Cardinal Kung Foundation in Stamford, CT.
In its 2004 annual report released on October 5, 2004, CECC reported on the status of religious freedom in Tibet saying, “The Party continues its ongoing campaign to transform Tibetan Buddhism into a doctrine that promotes patriotism toward China, and repudiates the religion’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.”
The annual report welcomed the third meeting of the Dalai Lama’s envoys with Chinese leaders. It said, “The visit to China by the Dalai Lama’s envoys that began on September 12 creates an important opportunity to address obstacles and achieve progress through dialogue. Chinese leaders misrepresent the Dalai Lama’s offer to accept bona fide autonomy as an attempt to gain independence in a ‘disguised form,’ even though he has stated that a solution can be based on China’s Constitution. Politically, Tibetan rights to constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech, religion, and association are subject to strict constraints, but emerging patterns suggest that local governments in some Tibetan areas are relatively less repressive than others. Economically, most Tibetans live in rural areas where they are marginalized by low incomes, poor health care, and lack of economic opportunities. Culturally, the increasing Han population in Tibetan areas poses a significant challenge to Tibetan culture and heritage.”
The annual report made the following specific recommendation to the Congress and the Administration concerning Tibet: “The future of Tibetans and their religion, language, and culture depends on fair and equitable decisions about future policies that can only be achieved through dialogue. The Dalai Lama is essential to such a dialogue. The President and the Congress should continue to urge the Chinese government to engage in substantive discussions with the Dalai Lama or his representatives.”
The hearing will be held on Thursday, November 18, 2004 at 10:00 AM in Room 2255 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The CECC Annual Report for 2004 can be viewed at http://www.cecc.gov/index.php.