Tibet photo exhibition opens in UK Parliament
|Mrs. Takla addressing MPs and others during the opening of the Tibet photo exhibition|
LONDON, 14 January 2004: A week long photo exhibition of contemporary Tibetan history opened yesterday evening in the Upper Waiting Hall of the Palace of Westminster (British Parliament) under the aegis of the UK-All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. As the venue also forms the passage through which members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords walk through to attend parliamentary sessions, is likely to draw the attention and support of many MPs as well as visitors.
In his opening remarks, Mr. John Wilkinson, MP, and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, said that the pictures, especially of the Tibetans escaping from across the high mountain passes, show how the unresolved issue of Tibet is an ongoing process.
“Tibetan history, rich culture, language and religious heritage have attracted much attention world wide since the diaspora of many thousands of Tibetans forced into exile from their homeland by the Chinese occupation of Tibet,” he said.
Mr. Wilkinson lauded the peaceful nature of the Tibetan people under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who won the Noble Peace Prize in 1989 for leading the non-violent Tibetan struggle for freedom from China. He said the Tibetan struggle is a truly worthwhile cause deserving of every support.
“The Dalai Lama is recognized as an outstanding example of a spiritual and political leader who seeks to resolve conflict through dialogue, an approach that has been tested to the extreme. Still the Tibetans within and outside Tibet persist in their peaceful, reasoned approach which has aroused admiration worldwide and is in particularly sharp contrast with the violence of international terrorism,” he said.
He said the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet continues to bring the issue of Tibet to the attention of the British government and also is working with the EU and fellow parliamentarians to garner more support for Tibet. Mr. Wilkinson said he looked forward to the day when the Tibetan
people will have the freedom to decide their own destiny without facing any intimidation from the Chinese authorities.
The exhibition titled “A Long Look Homeward” consists of photographs, detailed narrative text, and video clips of a journey through Tibet’s history as narrated by the Tibetan community in exile. The Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, told the mixed audience of MPs and invited guests including representatives of various London-based Tibet-related organizations, that the photos of the developments in Tibet were taken as they happened following the Chinese takeover. “If the Chinese had really come to liberate Tibet then the story of the Tibetan people would be different today,” she said.
Mrs. Takla expressed appreciation for the active role that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet is playing in championing the just cause of Tibet and appealed for more international support for His Holiness’ efforts to bring about further dialogue and eventual negotiation to attain ‘genuine autonomy’ for Tibet.
“If the world wants to really get rid of violence and terrorism then it is time the non-violent movement of the Tibetan people is given every support and encouragement,” said Mrs. Takla who is based at the Office of Tibet in London.
MPs who were able to attend the simple inaugural function found the exhibition impressive and educative. Lord Alton told this writer that the photos which are “equivalent to 1000 words” will surely be seen by many MPs and likewise draw their support for Tibet.
“Coincidently, this afternoon during a debate in the House of Lord on the subject of China and EU Arms Trade Embargo, I raised the issue of Tibet and pointed out how human rights is a litmus test to do business with China,” he said.
House of Commons member, Mr. Rudi Vis, said he is supportive of Tibet and is able to understand the plight of the Tibetan people because many residents in his Finchley and Golders Green constituency are not originally from UK.
For the representatives of the Tibetan community, the exhibition held inside the parliament was a source of much encouragement and a sign of more positive initiative to come from the British government and parliament.
“As a Tibetan, I feel morally uplifted as the venue is very important. I guess this is what democracy is all about- where you are allowed to show the truth. I hope this year marking 100 years of Anglo-Tibetan relations will result in more such events. But we need to make more effort,” said Mr. Tsering Passang, Culture Secretary of the Tibetan Community in Britain.
The exhibition is the travelling version of “A Long Look Homeward- Beyond Borders,” permanently housed in the Tibet Museum (Demton Khang) in Dharamsala in northern India, headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile. All those interested in viewing the exhibition in the parliament should contact the Hon. Group Administrator of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, Philippa Carrick, at firstname.lastname@example.org (Tel: 020 7272
A report by Office of Tibet, London