DHARAMSHALA: His Holiness the Dalai Lama today graced the public felicitation organised by the Central Tibetan Administration in honor of the high-level bipartisan US Congressional delegation visiting Dharamshala. The delegation, led by US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, is on a two-day visit to Dharamshala to reaffirm the United State’s continued support on the Tibet issue.
The felicitation was attended by thousands of Tibetans and Tibet supporters who thronged the Tsuglagkhang temple to express their joy and appreciation to the visiting eight-member congressional delegation.
Expressing his gratitude to the delegation for coming to Dharamshala, His Holiness the Dalai Lama described the United States as the global leader for world peace. “America is a leading nation of the free world and plays a pivotal role in the promotion of peace around the world. U.S. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi has been one of the longest friend and supporter of the Tibetan people, who has stood with us in the most critical of times and situations. I thank all of you today for expressing your genuine support for the Tibetan cause and solidarity for Tibetans inside Tibet,” His Holiness said.
“It is important to remember that Tibet supporters are not merely supporting us because of attachment; they are supporting the spirit of truth and justice, which is the core strength of our struggle. We have not gathered here against China but for truth and justice. We consider China as our friend and strongly believe in principle of give and take and mutual benefit. The Tibetan struggle represents that of truth, justice, non-violence and Tibetan people’s determination to preserve this culture has generated intense support for Tibet from all corners of the world, including Chinese,” His Holiness explained.
His Holiness further emphasised his commitment to nonviolence and said that the challenge before us is to make the new century, a century of non-violence and dialogue.
“Today, it is a conviction in these values that gives me the powerful motivation to promote basic human values. Even in my own struggle for the rights and greater freedom of the Tibetan people, these values continue to guide my commitment in pursuing a non-violent path,” His Holiness added.
“My sincere hope is that the future of Tibet and China will move beyond mistrust to a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and recognition of common interests.”
“In our newly emerging global community, all forms of violence, including war, are totally inappropriate means of settling disputes. According to my personal experiences the best way to overcome conflicts is to bring about mutual understanding through dialogue and not violence,” His Holiness noted.
Leader Nancy Pelosi, addressing the august gathering, paid tribute to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a man of compassion, vision and hope. She said: “Anytime anywhere a person can be in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a special occasion. I am proud to be here with the delegation from across America.”
“We came to see you as you have inspired us with your hope. I am more hopeful than ever that we will meet the challenges that face us. My hope springs from His Holiness’ message of compassion. Hope exists right where His Holiness tells us, right between deep faith in the goodness of others, belief and compassion,” she said.
“When we see the spark in the eyes of the children yesterday at the Tibetan Children’s Village, the children’s vision, we saw hope that they will one day return home to Tibet. When we saw the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts last night and today, we saw the hope that they would bring the authenticity of the Tibetan art home to Tibet. When we heard the leadership of President Dr Sangay, we saw hope for the progress of freedom for Tibet,” she explained.
In an emotional recollection of the US Congressional visit to Tibet in November 2015, Leader Pelosi said, “We went to the Potala Palace and we saw the room where His Holiness lived. We promised each other then and there that we would do everything in our power to make sure he would return to that place.” Rep Jim McGovern, Betty McCollum and Joyce Beatty were also part of the Congressional delegation to Tibet.
She also spoke about a particular exchange the delegation had with Chinese government officials, in which Leader Pelosi called on the Chinese officials for confining the minds of the children, freedom, culture and religion in Tibet.
Leader Pelosi further said the free world would have lost its moral authority to speak about human rights anywhere in the world, if it did not speak up against the repression in Tibet and in rest of China.
“To some in China, the authentic autonomous Tibet is inconceivable; to us it is inevitable. We must shorten the distance between the inconceivable to them and inevitable to us. I am sure with your devotion, determination and commitment to Tibetan values, culture, language and religions and under leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who will live to be at least 113 years old, I am certain we will succeed.”
President of Central Tibetan Administration, Dr Lobsang Sangay, in his address described His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the life and soul of Tibet. “His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we believe, is the manifestation of the Buddha of compassion (Chenresig). Chenresig and Tibetans are inseparable. Dalai Lamas and Tibetans are also forever connected. Therefore, as long as there is Tibet and as long as there is Tibetan people, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will return to this world to alleviate the sufferings of the Tibetan people,” he said.
Reaffirming the CTA’s emphasis on women empowerment as per His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s wishes, he said: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a big time advocate for women rights. In 1963, just a few years after we came into exile, we had the first women representatives in Tibetan Parliament. Since then, His Holiness is the biggest advocate of women’s rights earning the epithet ‘the feminist Dalai Lama’.”
Expressing gratitude to the delegation for visiting Dharamshala, President Sangay said: “the congressional delegation sends a message of hope, justice and freedom for Tibetans inside Tibet and the world. As you entered the ceremony, you have seen the smiles of the Tibetan children and public, these smiles reflect the smiles of the six million Tibetan people,” Sikyong said.
Sikyong also thanked Leader Nancy Pelosi for implementing almost all the promises that she has made to him during their meeting at Washington DC three years ago.
“I met Leader Pelosi and Representative McGovern at DC three years ago. During the meeting, she gratefully promised me eight things. Seven of the promises were already implemented. This is a symbol of your dedication and support. Unlike other politicians, you not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk. One of the promises was a visit to Tibet and the other was to visit Dharamsala. And in 2015, Leader Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Tibet and had a frank discussion with Chinese leaders,” Sikyong exclaimed.
Sikyong further described the grim political situation prevailing inside Tibet, which has led 147 Tibetans to self-immolate in protest. “Freedom House has come out with a freedom index report, which showed China at the bottom. Two years ago, Freedom House showed Tibet right at the bottom just above Syria. Similarly, reporters without borders have said that it’s more difficult to visit Tibet than North Korea. This only confiems our worst fears about the situation inside Tibet,” he said and requested the US government to continue supporting the Tibetan movement based on the Middle Way Approach.
President Dr. Sangay stated that just as Nelson Mandela had eventually walked free and restored democracy to South Africa, just as Aung San Suu Kyi had eventually walked free in Burma and just as the Good Friday agreement had eventually been signed in Northern Ireland, he remains convinced that Tibet’s day too will come because Tibetans have friends like those in the delegation. He looked forward to His Holiness the Dalai Lama walking free in the streets of Lhasa and giving the Kalachakra Empowerment before the Potala Palace, where Tibetan and Chinese Buddhists alike will receive it.
“On that happy day, when the dreams of the Tibetan people are fulfilled and the bell of freedom chimes in Tibet, we will invite you to join us again. Justice and freedom will prevail in Tibet thanks to our friends’ support. Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he said.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, the lone Republican in the delegation, assured the bipartisan support of the US Congress on Tibet and love and respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
He also expressed his solidarity with the sufferings endured by the Tibetan people inside Tibet. “Today there is no justice for Tibet and Tibetans in the practice of their religion, language and in expression of devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Only when there is justice in all of these areas, will there be freedom in Tibet. And that is what we, in the United States Congress, is firmly committed to.”
“You have seen the US government step up and help fund Tibetans in keeping their culture and traditions alive here in Dharamshala and elsewhere in the world. And the United States will continue to stand by Tibet until Tibet is free and justice is served.”
Sikyong thanked the US government’s continued support to the Tibetan people and further urged the delegation to make efforts towards the appointment of US special coordinator for Tibetan issues, a post left vacant at the moment.
Representative Eliot Engel in his speech urged China to let Tibetans practice their faith without governmental interference. “Let the people of Tibet practice their faith. Let the people of Tibet determine their own future,” he said. He further expressed his continued support to the Tibet issue and announced: “We will never stop until Tibet is free.”
Towards the end he assured that, being on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US Congress, he would make sure to talk about his experience here in India and also look into how helpful they can be to the Tibetan people.
Representative Jim McGovern, in his speech, pledged to make the return of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Tibetan people to Tibet possible. He called upon the Chinese government to respect human rights and release all Tibetan prisoners of conscience including the 11th Panchen Lama. Condemning China for interfering in Tibet’s traditional reincarnation system, he said China does not have the authority nor the right to name reincarnated religious leaders of Tibet.
He further made a call to like-minded people from all over the globe to work together for peace and Justice. “We need to be the wind at the back of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We need to be the wind at the back of President Dr. Lobsang Sangay. We need to be the wind at the back of all the Tibetan people all over the world but especially in Tibet,” he added.
Representative Pramila Jayapal also expressed her support for the Tibetan issue and recalled her childhood spent in India. She also thanked her birth country India for providing refuge to the Tibetan people. She emphasised the importance of preserving Tibetan religion, language and arts.
Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel of the Tibetan Parliament, in his statement, thanked the delegation for coming to Dharamshala to express support for the Tibet cause. “This gesture will send a strong message to the Chinese that Tibetans are never alone,” he said.
Secretary Dhardon Sharling thanked the delegation especially leader Nancy Pelosi for making this visit as requested by President Dr Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration. She also thanked them for their insightful and powerful remarks packed with positivity.