San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke at the 'Unite for Tibet' National Uprising Day Rally in San Francisco. Below is a transcript of the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you very much. What an honor it is to be with all of you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for speaking out again and again. I know that the day started with John Avalos, Supervisor Avalos, kicking off this rally. And I’m happy to be with here with Kaydor, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Americas; with Kelsang – I’m using only first names – the President of the Tibetan Association of Northern California; Giovanni Vassallo, President of the Bay Area Friends of Tibet; Tenzin, President of San Francisco Tibetan Youth Congress; Sonamtso Lama, regional coordinator of Students for Free Tibet. And I want to acknowledge each and every one of you. How special you are to be here.
“It is my privilege to join you in standing united for Tibet. It’s an honor to be joined by so many of San Francisco’s proud Asian-American community, Pacific Islander community, who have been steadfast advocates for justice and human rights, for peace here in the United States and throughout the world.
“As you know better than anyone – some of you weren’t even born yet, some were, I was – for the past 56 years, people around the world have commemorated the Tibetan National Uprising, by marching, advocating, and rallying on behalf of the people of Tibet. Today, we honor our friendship and solidarity with the people of Tibet by redoubling our efforts on their behalf. We will continue standing up and speaking out until Tibetans can enjoy religious, political, and cultural freedom.
“I’ve said it here many times; I’ve said it on the floor of Congress; I’ve said it when I’ve visited His Holiness in India: the situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world. Until every child is able to learn about his or her heritage and culture in their own language, we will stand united. Until every person is able to practice his or her faith without fear of persecution, we will stand united. Until possessing a photograph of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is no longer used as an excuse to imprison the faithful, we will stand united. Until His Holiness is allowed to return to his homeland, we will stand united.
“This year marks the 80th birthday and reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who describes himself, as you know, as a ‘simple monk, no more no less.’ Our cause is also simple: securing the human rights and the human dignity of the people of Tibet. Together we can help bridge the distance between the inconceivable – to us, it is inconceivable that this will not happen; to us, it is inevitable that this will happen; to the Chinese it is inconceivable it will happen – we have to bridge the distance between the inconceivable to them and the inevitable to us.
“A few days ago, I had the privilege of joining a pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama to honor the Foot Soldiers who marched from Selma to Montgomery. I’m going to tell you this story, because when I was there, when I had a chance to speak at a big dinner that they had, I talked about His Holiness. Because we were talking about what happened in Selma. What happened in Selma was about nonviolence. What happened in Selma, and the whole Civil Rights Movement in America, was about nonviolence. It was nonviolence that was learned from the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in India, where His Holiness now lives. That nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi, used by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement, used by Nelson Mandela – about reconciliation, not revenge, civil discourse. That’s what Lincoln was about in his Second Inaugural Address. He reached out a hand of friendship to the South, to bring them in, to end violence and have respectful civil discourse.
“So while we were talking about that, I told them this story about His Holiness, and his commitment to nonviolence. When I visited him there, I brought a very distinguished delegation of Members of Congress to see him in Dharamsala. And he brought in a large number of Lamas from all over the region. Before we met with the Lamas though, in the morning, we saw people who had just come over the mountain. And they were crying at the feet of His Holiness. They were telling us about what they saw in Tibet, and how the Chinese were treating the people of Tibet and people in prison, and people that they were imprisoning – about the self-immolations that were taking place there. This was March of 2008, so you know what that year was in Tibet.
“So as they cried – it was so sad, and we had seen the little children in the school, and how they were able to be raised according to their culture and how wonderful that was in India, but we wanted to see that in Tibet. So when it was my turn to speak to the Lamas, I said to the Lamas: ‘This morning, I saw this horrible thing that they told us about, and self-immolations, and the rest. And we have to make sure that stops. And we have to make sure,’ – and we had all these Members of Congress – ‘that when it comes to visas, when it comes to appropriations, to help the bridge to help people in India coming over from Tibet. We have to make sure that the Chinese government knows that we all stand together with Tibet, and that their actions will be condemned. Because we have no moral authority to speak about human rights anywhere in the world unless we condemn what is happening in China and Tibet.’
“So after I was finished speaking, His Holiness got up and said: ‘You know what we have to do?’ I thought he would like what I said, right? He said: ‘We have to rid’ – I was Speaker at the time – ‘we have to rid Speaker Pelosi of her negative attitude.’
“But isn’t that just like him? So beautiful, finding always a more peaceful way, a respectful way, because he has the confidence that right will prevail. His Holiness, whom I worship and love and have all the respect for in the world – I said: ‘Well, I’m glad that that is your attitude, and that’s your path, and I hope that I can follow your path. But in the meantime, I have to let people know what is happening in Tibet, and what we can do about it by shining a bright light on it.’ And that’s what you are doing once again today – honoring the nonviolent spirit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama – nonetheless, shining a bright light on the injustice that is happening in Tibet to the point that people had engaged in self-immolation. And your sign is right: ‘China is responsible.’
“So as his Holiness takes the peaceful path, it is really important for others of us to make sure that the world does not forget what is happening there. And I’m so glad to be with you today, to call attention to what is happening. Reading your signs, ‘long live the Dalai Lama,’ let us end on that happy note. Tibet belongs to Tibetans. Long live the Dalai Lama. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”