Fourth Tibet Support Group Conference Begins in Prague
Prague, 20 October 2003: The fourth international conference of Tibet Support Groups began its session in Prague, Capital of the Czech Republic yesterday morning.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at the conference venue at the Top Hotel to a welcome from the gathering. With Mr. Oldrich Cerny, executive director of the Forum 2000, as the master of ceremony, the inaugural session began with prayers by three monk-participants. Thereafter Count Otto Lambsdorff, Chairman of the Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung, gave his welcome address in which he commended the support provided to the conference by the Czech Republic. He gave a background of Czech’s own recent history to say why this support was all the more significant. The Count said the FNF supported His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s efforts at a negotiated solution through his Middle Way Approach.
Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche appreciated the role of the Tibet Supporters in activating international pressure on China to resolve the Tibetan issue. He explained the policies of his administration based on Truth, Non-Violence and Genuine Democracy and on finding a negotiated solution through His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach.
Both Count Lambsdorff and Kalon Tripa recognized the presence of the Chairman of the Tibetan Parliament, Mr. Pema Jungney.
The next speaker was Mr. Jan Ruml, Vice President of the Senate of the Czech Republic. He talked about the culture of Tibet as being a peaceful one and said everyone has a responsibility in trying to preserve it.
President Vaclav Havel arrived at the venue at this stage, after attending another conference. He was received at the Hotel entrance by Representative Sonam Tenzing and Secretary Thubten Samphel. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche came to the waiting lounge and led President Havel to the stage.
President Havel then gave his remarks in which he said although the world has become smaller it had the capability to sustain the diverse cultures. President Havel said the Czech Republic had received the support of the international community in its struggle for democracy and freedom. Having achieved that he said the Czech people now felt it obligatory to repay this by supporting the just struggle of the Tibetan people.
His Holiness then gave his address. He began by saying that the Kalon Tripa had explained the basic political position. He emphasized the significance of the Kalon Tripa by saying the Tibetan people now had a democratically elected leader and said his position was in a state of semi-retirement. He said it did not matter much now whether the Dalai Lama was there or not because the Tibetan people have a leadership process. His Holiness said his genuine retirement will be there when there is a resolution of the Tibetan problem. He said he continued to pay attention to his two other commitments; as a human being to promote basic human values and as a Buddhist leader to promote religious harmony. He said as the Dalai Lama he will continue to look after the welfare of the Tibetan people.
His Holiness said although there has been re-establishment of contact with the Chinese
leadership the situation on the ground in Tibet has not registered any changes.
His Holiness also commented on the attitude adopted by some to accept international intervention when there are natural calamities and to term as interference when spotlight is put on human rights violations. He said the suffering in both cases was similar except in that in one case it is inflicted through natural causes and in the other through man-made causes.
His Holiness talked about his concern for the environmental situation in Tibet, including the extreme exploitation of resources. He stressed on the need for the preservation of the Tibetan culture.
His Holiness said he was fully committed to his Middle Way Approach and is not separatist or splittist.
He also urged the conference to discuss and think over this and to see how this situation could be changed and what kind of effort is needed to achieve our goal. He welcomed suggestions, including constructive criticism. Referring to the demonstrations just before the Iraq War, His Holiness said demonstrations alone cannot achieve peace. He said what is needed is to support the nonviolence movement like the Tibetans so that an alternative can be provided.
Mr. Hubertus von Welck, Regional Director of FNF in New Delhi gave the concluding vote of thanks.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche and Count Lambsdorff later addressed to a well-attended press conference.
The conference continued with workshop sessions on political strategy.
There are 260 participants from 47 countries representing 135 Tibet Support Groups.
Earlier on the evening of October 18, President of Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, H.E. Dr. Petr Pithart, hosted a welcome reception on behalf of the Czech Parliament at the Senate building in Prague. In his welcome address, Dr. Petr Pithart praised the non-violent approach of the Tibetan struggle and involvement of international community represented by various Tibet Support Groups around the world. He also said that the only common thing between the people of Tibet and Czech Republic is that both yearn for freedom and democracy. Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche thanked the Czech leaders for
supporting the organization of the conference. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Association of the Regions of the Czech Republic was present at the reception.