A new bipartisan House resolution will condemn China’s recent mass arrest of peaceful Tibetan protestors and reaffirm House support for Tibetan self-determination following the 65th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising.

Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Young Kim, R-Calif., introduced the resolution “Recognizing the 65th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day of March 10, 1959, and condemning human rights violations related to the hydropower dam construction project in Derge” on Monday, March 11.

The resolution recognizes the thousands of Tibetan people who formed a human shield around the Dalai Lama’s residence on March 10, 1959 to protect their leader from the imminent threat of abduction by Chinese troops. Seven days later, the Dalai Lama was able to escape into exile to keep the Tibetan cause alive.

The resolution also recognizes the Tibetan mass protesters in Derge (Chinese: Dege) county in eastern Tibet. Last month, those protestors demonstrated against a hydropower dam project that would reportedly force residents of two villages to abandon their homes and destroy six Buddhist monasteries containing centuries-old religious murals. Chinese authorities reportedly arrested over 1,000 Tibetan people in the wake of the protests.

The resolution comes as over 200 Tibetan Americans and Tibet supporters are in Washington, DC for the annual Tibet Lobby Day, an event organized by the International Campaign for Tibet that brings advocates to the nation’s capital to meet with their Congressional offices.

Quotes from Congress members, ICT

Rep. McGovern said: “It’s been 65 years since His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was forced to flee as the People’s Republic of China forcibly took control of Tibet. Every day since, the Tibetan people have been defending their human rights and fighting for their self-determination. The PRC must comply with its own laws and its international human rights obligations, and stop oppressing Tibetans.”

Rep. Kim said: “The Tibetan people have suffered the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression and control for 70 years, and the CCP shows no signs of slowing down until it has erased Tibetan culture. The freedom-loving people of Tibet deserve our support. I’m proud to join Rep. McGovern in a bipartisan call to stand with the Tibetan people and urge the Biden administration to enforce laws in place to hold the CCP accountable.”

International Campaign for Tibet President Tencho Gyatso: “This resolution is a tribute to the resistance and resilience of the Tibetan people over 65 years, as well as the US Congress’ consistent, bipartisan support for their cause. From the Tibetan National Uprising of 1959 to the recent protests in Derge, the Tibetan people have continued to reject China’s attempts to destroy their culture and way of life, and Congress has been inspirational in supporting their efforts. We thank Reps. McGovern and Kim for introducing this resolution, and we look forward to working with them and their colleagues not only to pass this legislation in the House, but to pass the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act in the Senate, too.”

House resolution

The resolution confirms the House’s “longstanding support for the human rights, including the right of self-determination, of the Tibetan people.” It also “condemns the People’s Republic of China’s persistent efforts to erase the Tibetan people’s distinct religious, cultural, linguistic, and historical identity.”

According to the resolution, those efforts include the hydropower dam project in Derge. The resolution condemns China’s “arbitrary detention” of the protestors and expresses “grave concern” for their well-being. It demands China immediately release the protestors and all prisoners of conscience.

The resolution also demands that China “publicly apologize” for violating the protestors’ rights, “provide immediate redress for physical and emotional trauma, and expunge from the detainees’ official records any mention of the arrests or charges.”

The resolution calls on the Biden administration to urge Chinese authorities to halt the dam project unless China takes local Tibetans’ views into account and obtains their genuine consent.

The Biden administration should also insist that China abide by its commitments to safeguard cultural heritage, and the administration should fully implement the Tibet Project Principles that require Tibetan input into development projects.

Read the House resolution.

Resolving Tibet

The new resolution is the latest in a major wave of Congressional support for Tibet, including the passage of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018 and the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020.

Last month, the House passed the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by McGovern and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. Kim spoke in support of the legislation on the House floor.

Known as the Resolve Tibet Act, the bill will strengthen US efforts to push China to resolve the crisis in Tibet through peaceful negotiations with Tibetan leaders.