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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

President Bush and US Congress honor His Holiness

October 19, 2007

TibetNet
18 October 2007

Dharamshala: US President George Bush and Congress conferred His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the top US civilian award - the Congressional Gold Medal at
an elaborate ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building yesterday.

George W. Bush, the first sitting U.S. president to appear in public event with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, despite strong objections from China and urged the
government in Beijing to welcome the Tibetan spiritual leader back to the country.

The President called His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a "universal symbol of peace and tolerance."

He said, "I will continue to urge the leaders of China to welcome the Dalai Lama to China," adding that "They will find this good man to be a man of peace and
reconciliation."

He said "Americans cannot look to the plight of the religiously oppressed and close our eyes or turn away."

He said he has "consistently told the Chinese that religious freedom is in their nation's interest. I've also told them that I think it's in their interest to meet with the Dalai
Lama."

On Tuesday, His Holiness had a nearly hour-long meeting with President George Bush at the White House. The two leaders discussed on what the United States
could do to support His Holiness' endeavour for a solution to the Tibetan problem. First Lady Laura Bush joined the meeting.

U.S. Representative Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged China to invite the Dalai Lama to the
Chinese capital for "serious discussions."

"He accepts the sovereignty of China" in Tibet, Lantos said. "Let this man of peace visit Beijing."

The Republican and Democratic congressional leaders honored His Holiness in their address.

On receiving the top US gold medal, His Holiness said, he was "deeply touched" to receive such a "great honour".

"I believe that this award also sends a powerful message to those individuals who are dedicated to promoting peace," His Holiness said.

On the future of Tibet, His Holiness reiterated categorically that he is not seeking independence and have no intention of using any agreement on autonomy as a
stepping stone for Tibet's independence.

"I am seeking a meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people within the People's Republic of China," adding, "If the real concern of the Chinese leadership is the unity
and stability of PRC, I have fully addressed their concerns," said His Holiness.

Meanwhile, thousands of Tibetans gathered at the Tsuglakhang, the main temple at an official function held here this morning, to commemorate the conferment of US
Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The US Congress bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama is their highest recognition and respect for His Holiness' commitment to
all his spiritual and temporal endeavours," said Kalon Tsering Phuntsok, the acting Kalon Tripa.

He said the recognition is a clear sign of US Congress' support in resolving the issue of Tibet.

"Taking the opportunity on this momentous occasion, on behalf of all Tibetans living in and outside Tibet, the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration
expressed its gratitude to the two Houses of the US Congress and President George W Bush," he said.

He expressed appreciation and gratitude for the voluntary support on the issue of Tibet by various Tibet Support Groups and human rights activist based in every
corner of the world.

He urged the Chinese leaders during its current 17th Party Congress being held in Beijing to build up more courage and sincerely move forward the current dialogue
process based on His Holiness the Dalai Lama's principles of the Middle Way Approach and peaceful resolutions.

He further urged Chinese government to bring about positive development in Tibet and immediate release of political prisoners including Panchen Lama, Tulku
Tenzin Delek, Rungye Adrak, Jamyang Gyatso.

In her address, Deputy Speaker Dolma Gyari expressed appreciation for the US Congress and President Bush in honoring His Holiness with the top civilian award.

The 14th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile passed resolutions on 7 October 2006 and 4 October this year to express gratitude to President Bush and US Congress.

"Honoring His Holiness with the Congressional Gold Medal is a strong endorsement of His Holiness' tireless commitment in upholding the unique Tibetan identity,
enhancing lasting peace and principles of non-violence, religious harmony, tolerance, and promoting a sense of universal responsibility." said Mrs Gyari.

The Tibetan institutions based in Dharamshala presented an endless list of colorful cultural songs and dances.

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