From CNN – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday criticized China for its crackdown on anti-government protesters in Tibet and called on “freedom-loving people” worldwide to denounce China.
“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” Pelosi told reporters.
“The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world.”
She made the comments during a meeting with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, noting that she was voicing her personal opinion and not U.S. government policy.
Pelosi also offered words of support for the people of Tibet, saying it is time to shed light on what is happening there.
She arrived in northern India on Friday for talks with the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan government-in-exile.
Pelosi told the crowd at the temple in Dharamsala that it must be karma that brought her to India at such a difficult time. The Dalai Lama and Pelosi held hands as he escorted her around the temple.
“There’s a great relationship between the United States and His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” she said.
Pelosi is the first high-level U.S. official to meet with Tibet’s spiritual leader in Dharamsala in the aftermath of deadly clashes that broke out a week ago in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The clashes involved Chinese security forces and anti-Chinese protesters. There were also reports of Tibetans attacking ethnic Han Chinese who live in Tibet.
Pelosi’s visit was scheduled well ahead of the recent outbreak of violence. She is part of a U.S. congressional delegation in the country for bilateral meetings with the Indian government and to discuss climate change in New Delhi and Mumbai.
Chinese authorities insist they have acted with restraint in the clashes and killed no one. Instead, China says 13 “innocent people” were killed, some brutally burned, by the Tibetan rioters.
In India, Tibet’s government-in-exile said 19 Tibetans died in China’s Gansu province in recent days, raising the total death toll from the unrest to 99.
Over the last week, the violence has spread beyond Tibet into at least two neighboring Chinese provinces — Gansu and Sichuan — both with large Tibetan populations. Watch China’s restrictions on foreign media »
Beijing responded by mobilizing security forces and barring members of the international media from the region.