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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Tibet 101

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 3:00pm
HVC 215 Capital Visitor Center


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing on the history and an update on the current human rights situation in Tibet.

Tibet is among the most sensitive issues in U.S.-China relations. The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, a core legislative measure guiding U.S. policy, includes a strong focus on encouraging dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The two sides held nine rounds of talks between 2002 and 2010 but failed to come to any agreement. Talks have been stalled since and new challenges lie ahead.

On April 15, 2015, the government of the People’s Republic of China released a new white paper on Tibet. The white paper demands that the 14th Dalai Lama make “a public statement acknowledging that Tibet has been an integral part of China since antiquity,” as a pre-condition for an improvement in relations with Beijing. Moreover, the Dalai Lama's advanced age – he will be 80 in July – and changes in his role in the Tibetan exile movement have implications for any continuation of the dialogue process.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government and human rights groups continue to raise concerns about human rights in Tibetan areas of China. Unrest erupted in 2008 around the 49th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising, with as many as 200 people killed. Since then, China has imposed increasingly expansive controls on Tibetan religious life and practice. Since 2009, at least 137 Tibetans within China are known to have self-immolated, many apparently to protest PRC policies or to call for the return of the Dalai Lama, and 112 are believed to have died. In its 2014 annual report, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China identified 639 Tibetan political prisoners and detainees, the vast majority of whom were apprehended following the 2008 unrest.

Our distinguished panel of speakers will review Tibet’s history and the status of the dialogue, provide an update on the current human rights situation in Tibetan communities in China, and discuss the role Congress plays in regard to U.S. policy.

For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-225-8097 (for Mr. McGovern) or Carson Middleton at 202-225-2411 (for Mr. Pitts) or the Commission staff at

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC


Opening Remarks



  • Susan V. Lawrence, Specialist in Asian Affairs, Congressional Research Service
114th Congress