The American Mid-term Elections and Tibet

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting Congressman Tom Lantos as Congressman John Boehner and President Bush watches during the Gold Medal ceremony on October 17, 2007

On November 2, 2010 Americans will be participating in mid-term elections that is widely seen to be a game changer in American politics. Experts are predicting that the current Democratic-majority House of Representatives will change to a Republican-majority one. This will mean that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will give way to a Republican Speaker, with Representative John Boehner widely believed to be that individual.

Speaker Pelosi has had a long interest in Tibet and the Tibetan issue. A fellow Tibetan American asked me yesterday whether we had any idea of Congressman Boehner’s views on Tibet. A pointer may be his remarks at the ceremony in the Capitol on October 17, 2007 to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In his remarks, Congressman Boehner talked about the suffering of the Tibetan people and concluded, “Tonight when this work is done, this ceremony is over, all of you will go home. Members of Congress will finish their work tomorrow, and they will go home. We’ll go to our districts and we’ll see our families. But the Dalai Lama will not go home. He has not been home in 50 years. So today, we honor his sacrifice and his struggle and with a firm commitment that we will never forget the people of Tibet.”

The full text of his remarks is given below and a video recording of the same can been viewed here.

“Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, Madam Speaker, my colleagues and all of our special guests here today, thank you for coming as we celebrate His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. The United States Congress has voted to present our highest honor to a great leader, a great leader who has struggled his whole life for religious freedom and the liberty of his people.

“We gather under this very symbol of democracy. This rotunda completed during our nation’s Civil War has come to embody the words of our founding fathers. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Those words are as true today as they were 231 years ago. They are a beacon for any people anywhere yearning to break the chains of tyranny and live and worship in peace.

“Now Tibet is the roof of the world. It’s the home to Mount Everest and most of the highest peaks in our world. It has a capital, it has a flag, it has some six million people who live there. Most of them are simple farmers and shepherds. But the people of Tibet have become well acquainted with brutality and cruelty. Some have faced imprisonment for their religious beliefs. The Dalai Lama, who we honor today, has taken on the burden of his people. And he’s become a symbol of dignity, of tolerance and of religious freedom.

“Tonight when this work is done, this ceremony is over, all of you will go home. Members of Congress will finish their work tomorrow, and they will go home. We’ll go to our districts and we’ll see our families. But the Dalai Lama will not go home. He has not been home in 50 years. So today, we honor his sacrifice and his struggle and with a firm commitment that we will never forget the people of Tibet.”

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