As the US Congress discussed how to put pressure on Beijing over claimed human rights abuses in the Himalayan region, Hollywood actor Richard Gere expressed anger over the “cruelty” of Chinese policies in Tibet on Tuesday.
The “Pretty Woman” actress testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and accused Chinese officials of forcibly dividing Tibetan families, outlawing their language, demolishing sacred sites, and collecting DNA without consent.
Gere, a lifelong supporter of Tibet who has appeared before Congress numerous times, said that the Chinese Communist Party’s ethnic policies “have been largely predicated on containment, denial, destruction and assimilation for decades.”
The 73-year-old claimed that Beijing had oppressed the Tibetan people through “cruelty, collective violence, and persecution,” adding that they were under “pervasive surveillance system” control.
Over the ages, Tibet has alternately been independent and under Chinese rule. China claims that in 1951, it “peacefully liberated” the mountainous terrain and introduced infrastructure and education to the previously impoverished area.
However, a large number of displaced Tibetans charge China’s Communist Party of oppression, abuse, and the destruction of their culture.
According to three United Nations specialists, about a million Tibetan children have been taken away from their families and subjected to “forced assimilation” at Chinese residential schools.
“Identifiable mechanisms” like random arrest, forced relocation, rape, abuse, and vanishing are all tactics that Beijing’s integration practices have used in the past, according to Gere.
He urged the US and its partners to “speak with a single voice” regarding the necessity of Beijing resuming negotiations that would result in “meaningful autonomy” for Tibetans.
Gere urged Washington to pressure China at the UN to stop the removal of pastoral herdsmen from their native territories and urged Congress to approve legislation emphasizing US support for the Tibetan people.
He encouraged legislators to produce a report on China’s attempts to shape how the world views Tibet and its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as well as to reduce US support for the involuntary gathering of DNA and other types of personal health information.