December 10, 2016
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Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel (file pic)

Today is 10th December 2016, an auspicious day which marks the 27th anniversary of the acceptance by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – the incomparable one in being the saviour and the guiding light of all Tibetans, the master of the entire corpus of the teachings of the Buddha on this earth; a great champion of peace in this world – the world’s most famous award for peace, the Nobel Peace Prize. On behalf of all Tibetans, therefore, I, with happiness, faith and elation, and with remembrance of his kindness, offer my greetings.

In its announcement to present the Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee said: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the leader of the Tibetan people, is a person whose priority is to strive for harmonious coexistence in this world by relying solely on the approach of mutual respect, tolerance, and non-violence. It is on this basis that he has accomplished the admirable results of the preservation of the unique historical and cultural heritage of his people with all their noble qualities. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a person who strives to protect in an effective way the rights and interests of the entire humanity as well as of the world’s natural environment. In addition, he has consistently offered constructive suggestions for the resolution of all types of international conflicts in a peaceful manner.” And in one of his responses during the award ceremony, His Holiness the Dalai Lama explained that he had at all times adhered to the ideals of compassion, kindness, tolerance, and altruism with a sense of affection towards all other beings. He said that to treat everyone in this world with a sense of respect was the best approach towards ensuring the happiness and well-being of both oneself and others. Besides, His Holiness the Dalai Lama also said that he was since childhood inspired by Mahatma Gandhi of India who had renounced all kinds of violence and who had committed himself to relying solely on the method of non-violence and that he had always admired and praised him for it. I am reiterating these today only for the purpose of stirring the memory of the occasion.

Over the past many decades, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has, driven by a sense of responsibility and without being daunted by hardship, travelled to all parts of the globe and directed his efforts at ensuring the well-being of all sentient beings through his message of non-violence and peace. In particular, he has made efforts to ensure harmony between the followers of the different religious faiths in the world. He has also explained and propagated the concept of secular ethics, worked to establish exchanges between Buddhism and modern science, directed his efforts at solving the just cause of Tibet, and especially focused his attention on Tibet’s religion and culture, language and script, as well as Tibet’s natural environment. He still remains committed to these numerous efforts and he was conferred with an enormous number of honours & awards, including the Noble Peace Prize and he still continues to do so.

Most recently, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Japan and Mongolia and his programs in both the countries have been most extensive. During the visit to Japan, His Holiness emphasized that more than just engaging in practicing the rituals, a follower should strive to become a 21st century Buddhist.  He further said that in order to discern the Three Supremely Precious Jewels, one should have an understanding of the Truth of the End of Suffering and the Truth of the Path that Leads to the End of Suffering which is possible only if one had studied them. With teachings like these, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave profound yet lucid explanations of the very essence of the subject under discussion. His Holiness has in the past repeatedly spoken about the meaninglessness for people to change their religious faith from the one that had been followed for generations by their families to a new one. He repeated this during his recent visit to Japan too while emphasizing that one should, while remaining true to one’s own religious faith, show respect for all other faith systems and thereby strive to maintain harmonious interreligious coexistence. He thus employed skill to attain the noble goals.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also recently visited the European countries of Latvia, Switzerland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium and France. In Belgium’s capital Brussels, His Holiness attended the Seventh Tibet Support Groups Conference and later took part in a Mind and Life Conference of experts in the city’s BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts. He had truly extensive engagements during his visit to those countries, meeting and interacting with members of Tibet Support Groups and meeting with the head of the European Parliament, the President of Slovakia, the Culture Minister of the Czech Republic, members of parliamentary Tibet Support groups in each of these countries and so many other prominent public figures.

Likewise, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on being invited, visited the Ganden Thekchenling Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. A Spokesperson of the Chinese government reacted by falsely accusing His Holiness of using the pretext of religion to try to split Tibet from China. In addition, the Chinese government expressed all out opposition to the Mongolian government for facilitating the visit of His Holiness. But there was no way anyone could agree with the contentions of the government of China and heed its demands. Besides, Tibet and Mongolia have a unique and close historical fraternal relationship based on ties of teacher and disciple and this cannot be destroyed by anyone. Therefore, irrespective of warnings and protests from the government of China, the government of Mongolia has this time allowed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be invited to the country, thereby enabling him to give religious teachings there. This was not only the appropriate thing to do but also became a source of great benefits for both the immediate and long term good of the government and people of Mongolia. Many prominent figures have been profuse in complimenting the government of Mongolia for its courageous act of standing up to China’s bullying tactics and thereby enabling the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama while a number of commentaries have also been written on this development. In this connection, the International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet issued a statement, saying it was indeed encouraging to see that Mongolia was able to stand up for its values and that this was certainly something that “many of our own countries with Buddhist practitioners can and should emulate.” The Chinese government’s reactions to the visit were thereby shown to be improper and uncalled for.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has remained resolutely selfless and sincere in his efforts to reach an amicable settlement between Tibet and China. The democratically elected parliament in exile of the Central Tibetan Administration has adopted the middle way policy. It is only within the framework of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and in accordance with the provisions of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law of the People’s Republic of China that under this policy we demand genuine autonomy for all Tibetan inhabited territories. The government of China clearly knows that this is not a separatist demand and that we are only seeking to remain under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. Nevertheless, it makes use of every available opportunity to keep referring to us as separatists. We demand that the government of China change by giving up this futile and hardline policy and instead immediately take up for consideration a peaceful settlement that will be mutually beneficial both immediately and on long term basis to both the sides. And with a view to bring this about we call for efforts to establish immediate contacts between representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the government of China.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was presented to Mr Juan Manuel Santos, the 32nd President of Colombia, in recognition of his resolute efforts to bring the country’s 52-year-long civil war to an end. We too offer our compliments to the President in admiration for his noble efforts.

The works of His Holiness the Dalai Lama continue to expand like the ever rising volume of a summer stream. And it is obvious that he is greatly respected by all the high and mighty of this world. Nevertheless, within our own community, stray individual Tibetans make baseless denigrations and distorted claims against him in social streams. This is nothing but a show of ingratitude which only saddens one’s kith and kin but heartens one’s enemies. We must take care without fail to be appreciative of our objects of gratitude and on that basis be clear about the results of our acts of omissions and commissions. Besides, we call for resolute opposition by the whole community against such types of conduct.

Today is not only the anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama; it is also another important day marking the World Human Rights Day. However, in our homeland of Tibet, accounts about the extremely tragic human rights situation since its annexation by communist China remain too numerous to be compiled. In recent times too, violations of human rights, especially the Tibetan people’s religion and culture, and, likewise, the destruction of our land’s natural environment have continued unabated.

To cite just a couple of examples, there is the current tragic situation at the Larung Gar Buddhist Learning Centre and the restrictions being introduced to prevent people in both China and Tibet from travelling to India to receive the Kalachakra teaching from His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is a global Buddhist leader with no political role whatsoever. They clearly reveal that there is no meaningful freedom of religious belief and practice both in China and Tibet.

The government of China is spending many billions of yuan to build and multiply railway tracks from cities in China to various destinations in Tibet. Its purpose is to speed up the policy to make Tibet a colony of China within the shortest possible time.

The situation concerning the natural environment in Tibet has been deteriorating and becoming ever more serious day by day. For example, at a sacred mountain in a town called Jol in the so-called Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (incorporated into China’s Yunnan Province), the mining department of the government of China arrived to extract copper ore. The local Tibetans petitioned for an end to the mining work on their sacred mountain. But far from giving any consideration to their request, the Chinese authorities intimidated the Tibetans and warned them that they had been empowered by higher level authorities to use violence to crack down on them, make arrests, and even shoot to kill them. It only exacerbated the already tense situation.

Again, in a township called Ju Dechen in the so-called Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province, Chinese authorities issued a coercive order, requiring the entire people of the Tibetan township to move out to make way for the blockage of the Dri Chu river (Chinese: Yangze River) to build a hydro-electric power station dam. And when the local Tibetans gathered to present a petition to express their grievances resulting from enforcement of the order and sought remedial help, the Chinese authorities not only totally ignored them but also subjected them to brutal beating, detention and arrest. Speaking in general terms, China has built numerous dams and continues to build ever more throughout Tibet. These have resulted in serious damages to the natural environment and inflicted enormous hardship on the living conditions of the local Tibetan people, especially in the nomadic areas.

Even today, the Chinese government continues to persecute many innocent Tibetans in all manners of atrocities including through arrest, torture and imprisonment. According to a most recent information received from Tibet on 6 December 2016, the Intermediate People’s Court of Barkham, the seat of the so-called Ngaba Autonomous Prefecture (incorporated into China’s Sichuan Province) has sentenced some ten Tibetans – from both the lay and monastic community to prison terms of 5 to 14 years.

Along with celebrating the anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama today, a Himalayan Festival is being held here at Dharamshala for two days, beginning this afternoon. The festival is meant to express the admiration of the people of the local host community to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s works and to symbolize the unassailable bond of fraternity between the Indian and Tibetan peoples. I therefore offer my appreciation to all the organizers of the Himalayan Festival. The gratitude we owe to the central and state governments and the people of India for their help can never be forgotten and on this day I again offer my thanks and gratitude to them. I also appeal everyone to come together and cooperate to ensure the sustenance of the existing high level of fraternal relationship between the Indian and Tibetan peoples.

On behalf of all Tibetans in Tibet and in exile, I take this opportunity to express gratitude to all the governments and parliaments, organizations and private individuals, and others on this vast globe who out of their love and respect for freedom, democracy, and justice have provided all manners of facilitative help and support for the Tibetan cause. I also appeal to them to continue their strong support for our cause.

Finally, we pray that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a champion of world peace, and all the other great religious leaders of Tibet live a long life, that all their noble wishes be spontaneously fulfilled, that peace and well-being be ensured for all the sentient beings of this world, and that the just cause of the Tibetan people may be accomplished in all speediness.

 

By the Tibetan Parliament in Exile

10 December 2016

 

 

* In case of any unintended discrepancy between this translation and its original Tibetan text, the latter should be treated as authoritative and final.

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