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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Pelosi Remarks Upon Presentation of Inaugural Lantos Human Rights Prize to the Dalai Lama

October 8, 2009

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi presented
the first Lantos Human Rights Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama this
morning in the Capitol Visitor Center. Named for the late Congressman and
human rights activist Tom Lantos, the Lantos Human Rights Prize is intended
to raise awareness about human rights violations and honor the brave
individuals who are committed to fighting for human rights throughout the
world. Below are the Speaker's remarks.

"Thank you, Katrina [Lantos Swett], for bringing us all together today on
this very special occasion and for continuing your father's work for justice
around the world. Many of us came together a generation ago when Tom Lantos
invited us to join His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Capitol of the United
States. He invited His Holiness, and it was the first time His Holiness
would visit the Capitol. But, as Tom always told us then, it was his
invitation, but it was his wife Annette's idea. Tom and Annette shared a
passionate commitment to this man of peace and to his work. Thank you,
Annette, for continuing to shine a bright light on the dark corners of
oppression throughout the world.

"Tom's spirit, of course, lives through your work at the Lantos Foundation
for Human Rights and Justice. It also lives in the House of Representatives.
We are proud to continue Tom's work through the Tom Lantos Human Rights
Commission, as an official entity of Congress. It builds upon the work of
the Human Rights Caucus that was co-founded by Tom Lantos and John Porter.
And it is now ably chaired with great conviction by Frank Wolf and by Jim
McGovern. We thank them for their leadership.

"We heard from the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It is
clear to see, Your Holiness, that Tibet has a friend in the Chairman's
office of the Foreign Affairs Committee with Howard Berman, previously with
Tom Lantos, and before that Ben Gilman who is with us today. Thank you, Ben,
for your leadership as well. This has been bipartisan from the start.

"That special relationship between the United States and the Dalai Lama is
almost as old as His Holiness himself. It goes back to when President
Franklin Roosevelt sent the Dalai Lama - who was a little boy at the time -
a watch that showed the phases of the moon and the days of the week. It was
a wonderful gift of friendship which also anticipated his Holiness' love of
science. His Holiness took this watch with him when he left Tibet in 1959.
He told us earlier this morning that he had the pocket watch in his
equivalent of a pocket when he received the Congressional Gold Medal two
years ago. He received the medal from President Bush. From one President to
another, bipartisan, between generations, the bonds of friendship between
the United States and His Holiness and the Tibetan people are as strong and
durable as ever.

"U.S. Presidents, Members of Congress, and the American people continue to
be inspired by His Holiness's message of peace, non-violence, human rights,
and religious understanding. And we can all learn from him. We had a
delegation that visited him in India last year and we were particularly
stirred up by his concerns and about what is happening in Tibet. His
Holiness reminded us then, particularly me, to rid myself of a negative
attitude and to think more of reconciliation, peace, and friendship. We are
learning from His Holiness. I am so pleased that President Obama recently
appointed a special envoy to Tibet, the Under Secretary of State Maria
Otero, who is with us today as well. She just visited His Holiness in India
as well and I thank her for being with us.

"It has been said over and over again that His Holiness describes himself as
a 'simple monk, no more, no less.' It is the simplicity that I hear, and to
millions of believers and admirers, that simplicity is a source of wisdom
and compassion.

"Last week, His Holiness visited the site where Martin Luther King was
assassinated and received the International Freedom Award from the National
Civil Rights Museum. I am so pleased that John Lewis is with us today. John
teaches us every day here, Your Holiness, that each one of us contains a
spark of divinity and therefore is worthy of respect. We need to remember
that about everyone, including ourselves. In the legacy of Dr. King and
Mahatma Gandhi, His Holiness leads the way in employing the power of
non-violence to promote the freedom of his people and people around the

"For more than 20 years, His Holiness has advocated for Tibetan autonomy
within the framework of the People's Republic of China. His Holiness has
expressed a desire to visit China and to engage directly with Chinese
officials. It is our hope that the Chinese government will welcome this
opportunity for a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet. The cause of
Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world. We must not fail to
meet that challenge. In fact, unless we speak out on human rights in China
and Tibet, we lose all moral authority to talk about human rights anywhere
in the world.

"Your Holiness, I now have the great privilege of giving you this special
Tom Lantos Prize. On this medal are inscribed the words of Tom Lantos: 'The
rights of one are the rights of all.' On behalf of the Lantos Foundation for
Human Rights and Justice, the entire Congress, and millions around the
world, I thank you for your work to ensure the rights of all people.

"Now I have the privilege of reading the citation on behalf of Annette,
Katrina and the Lantos Foundation. 'The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights
and Justice hereby awards its inaugural Lantos Human Rights Prize to the
14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, the religious and political leader of the
Tibetan people. With courage, compassion, and humility he has given voice to
the aspirations of all humanity for a life of dignity, justice, and respect.
As an unflinching advocate of non-violent reconciliation, he has advanced
the cause of human rights in every corner of the globe. His Holiness the
Dalai Lama is one of the most highly honored peacemakers of our time and is
a unique moral voice for our day."

SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House
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