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Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Representing the 4th District of Minnesota

McCollum Welcomes His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Minnesota

June 24, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Minnesota and joined him on stage for his public talk at the Minneapolis Convention Center, an event hosted by the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota. In her remarks, Congresswoman McCollum reiterated her strong support for the vibrant Tibetan-American community in the Twin Cities and her commitment to securing peace, justice, and human rights for the people of Tibet.

"Today, let us focus our minds, our hearts, our prayers, and, as free people, let us work to make the people of Tibet free. It is long past time for China’s repression in Tibet to end.  The human rights abuses must stop.  The prisoners of conscience must be set free.  The destruction of Tibetan culture and the repression of Buddhist monks and scholars must stop," Congresswoman McCollum said. "China is a powerful country. But, the United States is a free and powerful country. The United States must never abandon our commitment to freedom, justice, and human rights around the world. And, we must never abandon the people of Tibet."

Congresswoman McCollum's full remarks at the public talk with His Holiness are below:

Good morning! I am so pleased to be here with Minnesota’s strong and thriving Tibetan community. I wish to thank the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota for inviting me to join you this morning.

Only one month ago – in May – I was in Dharamsala, India as part of an official congressional delegation led by the Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.  In Dharamsala my colleagues and I were humbled to be received very warmly and graciously by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  We had a very special visit with His Holiness.

Today, it is our honor to welcome His Holiness to Minnesota and his presence is a blessing and inspiration for all of us. Please accept my offer of strong support for Tibetans in Minnesota and across the U.S., for the Tibetan community in India and Nepal, and all Tibetans living in exile.

The refugee experience, being forced from ones homeland, fleeing violence and persecution, is a journey of loss, pain, and suffering.  You never forget home, but now you have a second home and together we must make this home in America one of safety, hope, and opportunity.

We want this home to be welcoming for your families and a place where you have the freedom to maintain your culture, practice your beliefs, and sustain your rich traditions as Tibetans. I know firsthand the important contributions Tibetan-Americans are making here in Minnesota and I am grateful. Your community makes Minnesota a stronger, better state.

In 2015, I was in Tibet, your homeland.  I experienced the mountains, the thin air in my lungs, and the warmth of the Tibetan people I met. But, there was also the heavy burden of a land that is not free.  The people of Tibet are not free. 

Today, let us focus our minds, our hearts, our prayers, and, as free people, let us work to make the people of Tibet free. It is long past time for China’s repression in Tibet to end.  The human rights abuses must stop.  The prisoners of conscience must be set free.  The destruction of Tibetan culture and the repression of Buddhist monks and scholars must stop. 

With great sadness, I must tell you that two weeks ago I received a letter from China’s Consul General in Chicago asking me to refrain from “any contact with the Dalai Lama in any form.” The letter called today’s gathering a platform for a separatist plot. There is no plot, only a path of peace and dialogue.  Let us follow His Holiness on that path, a path to separate the Tibetan people from political repression, a path to separate Tibet from endless acts of cultural destruction, and a path to separate the political and religious prisoners from their cells and their suffering.

As a Member of Congress, I urge the Congress and the President of the United States to stand with the people of Tibet to promote human rights, religious freedom, and a meaningful political dialogue.

China is a powerful country. But, the United States is a free and powerful country. The United States must never abandon our commitment to freedom, justice, and human rights around the world. And, we must never abandon the people of Tibet.

I will work in Congress to continue U.S. funding for all Tibetan programs, scholarships, and assistance for refugees. And, I will work to pass H.R. 1872 – the “Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017.” Let me also urge President Trump to meet directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and listen to his wise and compassionate insights.  Mr. Trump needs to hear why ongoing U.S. support for Tibet is vital.

The teachings of His Holiness are not only wise, they are in the best interest of the United States and of all of mankind.  Let us love our planet and work to stop climate change.  Let us welcome refugees and all who flee violence and suffering whether Buddhist, Christian or Muslim.  Let us open our hearts to the poor and the vulnerable – in our own communities and around the world.

Minnesota is blessed by our Tibetan brothers and sisters.  And, today we are blessed by the presence of His Holiness and his teachings. May peace be upon us all and may we follow its path together. Thank you.