DHARAMSALA: Thousands of Tibetans and supporters of the Tibetan cause gathered to pay their last respects to Jampel Yeshi, the 27-year-old Tibetan who set himself on fire in Delhi for freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to his homeland.
The main temple packed with Tibetans and supporters reverberated with solemn prayers as the body of Jampel Yeshi, wrapped in Tibetan national flag, reached there for the funeral service organised by the Tibetan Youth Congress this morning. The entire Central Tibetan Administration attended the prayer and funeral service. Both Indian and Tibetan shops and restaurants in Mcleod Ganj remained closed as a mark of solidarity and respect.
The funeral service began with the singing of Tibetan national anthem, followed by prayers at the Tsuglagkhang, the main temple. As a mark of respect, the Tibetans then offered traditional scarves to the casket, which was carried in an ambulance to the crematorium. Thousands of Tibetans followed the funeral procession.
In his address, Kalon Pema Chhinjor of the Department of Religion and Culture, said Jampel Yeshi and other Tibetans have voluntary sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet.
“We must strive to make the international community act on their demands and aspirations for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet,” he said.
He reiterated the Kashag’s appeal to the Tibetans and Tibet supporters to organise their activities peacefully, in accordance with the laws of their country, and with dignity.
He said young Tibetans, born and brought up in China’s socialist paradise in Tibet, are burning themselves.
He said the media has the moral duty to find out why Tibetans are setting themselves on fire.
He also apprised the gathering that Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay, on his way to Delhi for an official visit yesterday, paid his last respects to Jampel Yeshi by offering a traditional scarf to the casket carrying his body.
Mr Penpa Tsering, the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, said the repressive policies of the Chinese government are pushing Tibetans to set themselves on fire. “Now the question is how many more Tibetan lives have to be lost before the Tibetan issue is resolved or before the Tibetan issue vanishes completely from this world?,” he said.
He underscored that the Tibetan people have adopted the mutually-benefical middle-way policy to preserve their identity and culture, and the long term interest of China and India. “Tibet acted as a historical buffer between India and China. If Tibet is given genuine autonomy, it is our firm belief that we could become a facilitator or contributing factor in promoting peace and stability in whole Asia.”
Speaker Penpa Tsering thanked the Tibetan NGOs and Tibet support groups for their efforts to highlight the issue of Tibet. He said the Parliament would be holding a series of international and national conferences to push forward the Tibetan cause, and to secure a commitment from the Chinese government and the international community to resolve the issue of Tibet.
He urged the international community to encourage China, not as an enemy but as a friend, to resolve the issue of Tibet for the long-term interest of its moral standing and as a responsible world leader.
He underlined that Tibetans should have the freedom to preserve their language, culture and heritage. “We thank governments, Parliaments and Tibet supporters for your support. We need your continuous support for many months and months to come until the issue of Tibet is resolved,” he added.
Jampel Yeshi has left a written statement in his room before setting himself on fire at a rally in Delhi on 26 March. Below is the English translation of his statement.
1. Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is the shining example of world peace. We must strive to ensure return of His Holiness to Tibet. I pray and believe that the Tibetan people in and outside Tibet will be united and sing the Tibetan national anthem in front of the Potala Palace.
2. My fellow Tibetans, when we think about our future happiness and path, we need loyalty. It is the life-soul of a people. It is the spirit to find truth. It is the guide leading to happiness. My fellow Tibetans, if you want equality and happiness as the rest of the world, you must hold onto this word ‘LOYALTY’ towards your country. Loyalty is the wisdom to know truth from falsehood. You must work hard in all your endeavours, big or small.
3. Freedom is the basis of happiness for all living beings. Without freedom, six million Tibetans are like a butter lamp in the wind, without direction. My fellow Tibetans from three Provinces, it is clear to us all that if we unitedly put our strength together, there will be result. So, don’t be disheartened.
4. What I want to convey here is the concern of the six million Tibetans. At a time when we are making our final move toward our goal – if you have money, it is the time to spend it; if you are educated it is the time to produce results; if you have control over your life, I think the day has come to sacrifice your life. The fact that Tibetan people are setting themselves on fire in this 21st century is to let the world know about their suffering, and to tell the world about the denial of basic human rights. If you have any empathy, stand up for the Tibetan people.
5. We demand freedom to practice our religion and culture. We demand freedom to use our language. We demand the same right as other people living elsewhere in the world. People of the world, stand up for Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans. Victory to Tibet!