By Diana Hughes
My name is Diana Hughes and I am very much committed to trying to aid the Tibetan cause, as my father was a British doctor with the IMS, Harry Staunton, who worked in Lhasa and was present at the enthronement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1940, long before the Chinese occupation.
Sibford Gower and Sibford Ferris, my home, are sister villages 10.5 km west of Banbury in Oxfordshire, on either side of the river Sib. Mr Thubten Samdup, the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the UK and Northern Europe, kindly travelled here to meet and talk to the Sibfordians as well as a considerable number of people who had come from further afield. The village hall was filled to capacity and Mr Samdup was clearly touched and delighted by the interest in Tibet shown in this one small part of England.
The award-winning film ‘Undercover in Tibet’ was shown, featuring a courageous young Tibetan, Tash Despa, who ventured back into Tibet, the homeland whence he had escaped ten years previously. He took with him a small team from Channel 4, and managed to secretly interview Tibetans living in Tibet, at great risk to them and to himself. It was clear to the audience to what brutality and hardship these people were being subjected on a daily basis.
After the film another a short DVD was screened, graphically depicting the self-immolations, the grief-stricken Dalai Lama, and in contrast the smiling, seemingly indifferent British politicians greeting their Chinese guests. This was accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful singing of Jane Alston, who has composed many songs for Tibet.
Mr Samdup told the deeply moved audience that it was not enough to be upset and sympathise with the Tibetans – we have to do something to bring about a change, to end the deadlock and the breakdown of negotiations with the Chinese authorities. The more people who take the step of seeking out their local MP and impressing on him or her how vital it is to keep the Tibetan topic active in Parliamentary discussion, the greater the chance is of persuading the Prime Minister to be more proactive in standing up for Tibet.
I would like to thank Mr Samdup for coming to talk to us about the grave situation in Tibet and I am sure that many of the people who left deep in thought will have been inspired to do what they can to “be the change”.
This was Mr Samdup’s third visit to Oxfordshire, as he has previously addressed groups in Tudor Hall School and The Oxford Student Union.