Jan 152015
 

Tibet has been a neighbor of China for at least 700 years. During most of that time it has acted as a de facto state, maintaining a separate culture and identity. These two countries peacefully coexisted for 650 years until Mao’s army annexed and occupied Tibet in 1951. During the next 25 years, more than 1.2 million Tibetans were killed during the reforms of China’s Cultural Revolution. The Dali Lama and the Tibetan government are currently in exile in India. Tibetans say the Chinese government has committed cultural genocide while attempting to assimilate Tibet under its ‘One China’ policy. Several years ago, China completed a railway system linking the rest of China with the frozen Tibetan plateau. Critics say this was done to strengthen its political control over Tibet and to marginalize native Tibetans by encouraging further Han migration from the rest of China. China claims to have brought better living conditions and freedom of religious choice to an impoverished population. Since 2009, more than 116 Tibetans have chosen self-immolation as a way to protest against, and draw attention to, the abuses of Chinese rule. Beijing has taken a tough stance on Tibetan self-immolators and their associates, recently imprisoning two Tibetans convicted of murder for “inciting” people to set themselves on fire. The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising, has long denied China’s assertion that he’s seeking Tibetan independence. He says Tibet wants only enough autonomy to protect its traditional Buddhist culture.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2080 – Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current China/Tibet policy and wish to defeat H.R.2080

I support making 3,000 immigrant visas available in 2014-2016 for individuals who were born in Tibet and have been continuously residing in India or Nepal prior to the date of the enactment of this Act, and wish to pass H.R.2080

I support efforts, including identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill, to aid Tibet in its struggle for autonomy

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

For many decades, Israelis and Palestinians have waged a bitter and bloody struggle over lands they both claim by historical right. In 2007, Israel instituted a blockade on the Gaza Strip and closed its border with Egypt. Since then, most Palestinians there have been living below the poverty level of $2/day. Some have turned to subsistence farming for survival. The Palestinian economy is experiencing great hardships from Israeli restrictions on its commercial trade and a ban on its exports, which had accounted for most of Gaza’s income. At times, food and water are scarce for these besieged people. At least 3 wars have been fought between these neighbors in the last 8 years, most recently last July. These wars have destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure and claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinian children and civilians. A relatively few number of Israelis have also lost their lives. Is has been 22 years since agreement was reached on the Oslo Accords which were intended to create a Palestinian state next to the Israeli one –a concept of two states for two peoples. Like all previous peace efforts this one failed. In 2012, the UN implicitly recognized Palestinian sovereignty by voting to upgrade its entity status to that of a “non-member state.” Some Palestinians now say the two-state solution is no longer a viable resolution to this conflict. Instead, they are campaigning for the creation of one democratic secular state for both Arabs and Jews which would include Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. However, this is not an attractive option to most Israelis because Palestinians, with higher birthrates, would soon become the majority and threaten the essence of Israel’s Jewish identity. President Obama has elucidated the choice Israel must make to end this conflict and normalize relations with its neighbors. He said our ally needs to either allow Palestinians to form their own state or to incorporate them into Israel as citizens. Should Israel decide to do neither, its economy may be the target of boycotts, divestment and sanctions from nations who view it as they did apartheid South Africa. Advocates say that bringing peace to this long-standing conflict will resolve the most volatile issue in the Middle East and reduce the animosity that exists for Israel and the United States in this region. Each year, we provide Israel with about $3 billion in military and economic aid while the Palestinians receive about $500 million in economic assistance.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current Israeli-Palestinian conflict policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill linking Israeli and Palestinian foreign aid to the resumption of peace negotiations

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Syria is engaged in a civil war between those loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad and those who wish to oust him. This struggle began with peaceful protests in 2011 and escalated into bloodshed a month later when government soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. Following months of military action, these protests evolved into an armed civil rebellion. This conflict has no clear front lines, with clashes taking place in many cities and towns. The rebel ranks, composed of ex-soldiers, foreign fighters and civilian volunteers are without centralized leadership. In 2013, the Arab League suspended Syria’s membership because of its brutal response to this crisis. It gave Syria’s seat on the League to the Syrian National Coalition, a loose-knit group of former Syrian diplomats, generals and other expatriates based in Turkey. In 2014, the UN estimated this conflict’s death toll at about 200,000 people, more than half which were civilians and children. According to the UN, at least 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 1.5 million people have fled to other countries. Russia and other nations have accused both government and opposition forces of human rights violations but the UN has concluded that the government’s abuses are the greatest in gravity, frequency and scale. Our leaders have insisted Assad step down either voluntarily or by force and have debated whether to send humanitarian or military aid to the rebels. The Obama administration decided to ship a limited number of arms to vetted rebel groups in June of 2013. However, some are against sending arms to the Syrian rebels because of worries these weapons could be acquired and used by terrorists, who are known to be in Syria fighting Assad. Under threat of U.S. attack, Assad agreed to relinquish his stockpile of chemical weapons which were rendered inert. However, since this action, the West has retreated from their involvement in this conflict while Assad has received help from the Shia movement, leading to several military victories and causing analysts to believe his government is no longer facing imminent collapse. Last September, in response to advances by the Islamic State movement (ISIS, ISIL), a coalition of Arab and Western nations led by our military began a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria to degrade the ability of ISIS and other terrorist groups to launch attacks against its neighbors and the West. At this time, we also allocated $500 million to arm and train Syrian rebel groups.

Pending Legislation:

S.1201 & H.R.2494 – Protecting Americans from the Proliferation of Weapons to Terrorists Act of 2013

S.617 – Syria Democratic Transition Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current Syria Civil War policy and wish to defeat S.1201 & H.R.2494 and S.617

I support restricting funds for the escalating military involvement in Syria; prohibiting funding for supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Syria by any nation, group, organization, movement, or individual, and wish to pass S.1201 & H.R.2494

I support providing support for humanitarian activities taking place in and outside Syria; establishing of an inclusive representative form of government; contribute seed funding to establish a Syria Reconstruction Fund for the physical reconstruction and reestablishment of basic services in Syria after the fall of the Assad regime, and wish to pass S.617

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill authorizing arms shipments to the Syrian rebels

 Posted by at 12:00 am