By Judy Kurtz, The Hill – 6 December 2017
Richard Gere says he’s “knocked out” by lawmakers’ words of support for Tibetans.
“I’m going to be incredibly blunt with you,” the “Pretty Woman” star said Wednesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee hearing focused on U.S. policy towards Tibet.
“I’m totally knocked out by the words I’m hearing from all of you,” Gere exclaimed after Reps. James McGovern (D-Mass.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) spoke.
“Human rights and personal freedoms in Tibet are already in a poor and worsening state. According to the State Department’s 2016 human rights report, the government of China engages in the severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing the civil rights of the Tibetan population,” Yoho, the subcommittee’s chairman, said.
Gere, chairman of the board of directors for the International Campaign for Tibet, said, “I’ve seen this evolve over decades now, how people talk about Tibet and from what part of their being they speak. And this is coming from a deep place in all of you.”
“I think everyone in this room is feeling this from a deep place, how important this is — maybe not strategically, but humanly,” he added.
“Before being politicians or actors, we are human beings who understand that oppression cannot be tolerated,” Gere, 68, told lawmakers in prepared remarks. “We understand that all human beings have the right to the pursuit of happiness and to avoid suffering. This is what his holiness the Dalai Lama continuously reminds us of, to look at what unites us as human beings, as compassionate people sharing our time and space on this small and very beautiful planet.”
While Gere praised President Trump for reportedly raising the issue of human rights with Chinese authorities during a trip last month to China, the actor knocked the commander in chief for not going far enough.
“President Trump and Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson did not publicly highlight the lack of respect of human rights in Tibet or the need for China to restart the dialogue process with the Dalai Lama. Now, this is out of line, completely, with the provisions of the Tibetan Policy Act,” said Gere, a longtime advocate for human rights in the region and frequent visitor to the Hill.
“It is now critical that the U.S. Congress takes concrete initiatives to make sure that the Tibetan Policy Act, which is law, is fully implemented and that China is consistently reminded that the U.S. stands with the Tibetan people in full support of their peaceful aspirations.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) stood alongside Gere as he delivered a message on Twitter about the “human rights and oppression” in Tibet:
Just had an important and timely meeting with Richard Gere, Chairman of the @SaveTibetOrg, and @DrLobsangSangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration on deteriorating human rights & oppression of religious liberties in #Tibet by the Chinese gov https://t.co/e97Xm9woAy pic.twitter.com/251Cg4a8zR
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) December 6, 2017