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Senators Boxer, Brown and Snowe Lead Call on China to Resolve Crisis in Tibet

April 4, 2008

Contact: Natalie Ravitz (Boxer) 202 224-8120
Bethany Lesser (Brown) 202 224-3978
Kurt Bardella (Snowe) 202 224-8667


April 2, 2008


Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs,
together with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME),
today led a bipartisan group of 27 Senators in sending a letter calling
on Chinese President Hu Jintao to bring about a timely, peaceful
resolution to the current crisis in Tibet and to respect the human
rights of the Tibetan people.

In the letter, the Senators encourage the Chinese government to increase
transparency by removing current restrictions on the press and to
disclose accurate information about Tibetan individuals who have been
detained, injured, and killed since the crisis began.

Media reports quote the Tibetan government in exile as putting the death
toll from the demonstrations at about 140, while China has put the death
toll at 22.

The Senators also ask that the government release peaceful protestors
who have been detained and meet directly with His Holiness the Dalai
Lama, whose "deep bond with the Tibetan people make[s] him key to
achieving a negotiated solution to the Tibet issue."

Boxer said, “I am deeply concerned about the crisis and violence in
Tibet – it is in the interest of all involved that we move quickly to
restore peace in the region.  But it is also my sincere hope that China
will take this opportunity to listen to the valid, long-standing
concerns of the Tibetan people and extend an open hand to the Dalai
Lama, whose wisdom and leadership is deeply respected by the Tibetan
people and the international community."

Brown said, “China’s crackdown on the people of Tibet is inexcusable.
Beijing has long sought a place at the table of global leaders. But
systematic and violent repression of free speech, political protest and
the eradication of ethnic culture, religion, and language are not the
acts of a world leader, nor a country we should be striving to open to
free trade. President Hu Jintao must take immediate steps to end the
violent repression, open up to western media and release all political

Snowe said, “The violent crackdown perpetrated against the Tibetan
people last month has already shattered the illusion that China's
economic development, without political liberalization, is synonymous
with modernization.  It is in all of humanity's interest to now ensure
that, when the world turns its gaze to this summer's games in Beijing,
the Olympic flame is not obscured by a curtain of smoke rising from Tibet.”

In addition to Boxer, Brown and Snowe, the letter was signed by U.S.
Senators Joseph R. Biden, Jr.(D-DE), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Charles E.
Schumer (D-NY), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Robert
Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Tom Coburn
(R-OK), Max Baucus (D-MT), Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), James M. Inhofe
(R-OK), Larry E. Craig (R-ID), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse
(D-RI), Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), John E. Sununu (R-NH), Gordon H. Smith
(R-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN),
Jon Tester (D-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR).

Full text of the letter follows:

The Honorable Hu Jintao
People’s Republic of China

Dear President Hu:

We write today to respectfully urge you, in the strongest possible
terms, to take all necessary steps to bring about a peaceful resolution
to the current crisis in Tibet and to respect the human rights of the
Tibetan people.

First and foremost, we ask that the Chinese government remove its
restrictions on the media and communications, and allow independent
monitors and the foreign press unfettered access to the region. We
believe that lack of reliable information is only fueling uncertainty,
causing resentment and discord on both sides of the issue. Increased
transparency will be an important factor in resolving the conflict and
is the best assurance against further escalation of the violence. Such
transparency should include disclosing the names and whereabouts of any
Tibetans, including Tibetan monks, who were detained in the wake of
recent events. It is particularly critical that the world be given an
accurate picture of the number of individuals detained, injured, and
killed since the crisis began.

We also ask that the government release those detained for peaceful
protest and demonstrate respect for the internationally-recognized right
to peaceful assembly and expression of political opinion.

Finally, we ask that the government move quickly, and at the highest
level, to meet directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and engage in
substantive dialogue to restore stability and bring genuine autonomy to
the region. The Dalai Lama’s respected stature in the international
community and deep bond with the Tibetan people make him key to
achieving a negotiated solution to the Tibet issue and to peacefully
implementing any agreement that is reached.

The protests seem to reflect long-simmering Tibetan resentment toward
Chinese policies and laws that have failed to respect the basic rights
of the people of Tibet. They also appear to reflect Tibetans’ belief
that the six years of dialogue conducted to date—without the direct
participation of the Dalai Lama—has been too slow and unyielding of
results. For stability to last, the underlying causes of the public
protests must be addressed, and policies that address the interest of
both the Tibetan people and the Chinese government must be considered.

In any such dialogue, it is vitally important that the Chinese set forth
a timeline and framework for evaluation of substantive progress. An
expedient resolution of the Tibet question through official negotiations
that include measurable results favors both the Tibetan people and the
Chinese government.

Again, we urge you to do everything possible to bring about a peaceful
resolution to this crisis. As a permanent member of the United Nations
Security Council, China would be best served by expeditiously resolving
this issue in a manner that reflects international norms and respect for
human rights.

We look forward to continued dialogue on this matter and others that are
important to the US-China bilateral relationship.

Thank you for your consideration of this most important request.

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