Tibetans in UK Mark His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Birthday
Sunday, 6 July 2008, 12:48 p.m.
London: The Office of Tibet,
the Tibetan Community and the Tibet Society based in the Britain,
jointly organised a function on Sunday to mark the 73rd birthday of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Robert Ford (C) flanked by his son (L) and Representative Tsering Tashi
(R), during a function commemorating the 73rd birthday of His Holiness
the Dalai Lama in London, on 6 July 2008 (Photo: Ugyen Choephell)
This time with due consideration for the prevailing sad
situation in Tibet, the function did not include any singing and dance
items. Instead, the gathering saw and participated in an extended
prayer session for His Holiness, Tibet and world peace led by Ven Geshe
Tashi Tsering, resident teacher of the Jamyang Buddhist Centre.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Robert Ford, one of the last
remaining British who has worked and lived in Tibet, told the gathering
about his admiration for the Tibetan people’s simplicity and faith in
their religion and devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whom he
again had the opportunity to meet in London in May.
Mr Ford, who last served as the Consul-General in Geneva before
retiring in 1987 and receiving the Commander of the Order of the
The former British diplomat told a mixed gathering of Tibetans
and others in the Westminster Cathedral Hall that his last “official
audience” with His Holiness the Dalai Lama took place in 1949 in the
Tibetan capital Lhasa before he was asked to leave for Chamdo in
eastern Tibet to establish a radio link from there to Lhasa.
He said following his last audience with His Holiness, the
nightmare had begun for Tibet and that his own personal dreams was also
shattered. In 1950 he was arrested by the Chinese army and suffered
imprisonment for nearly five years.
“Sadly, this was the last time I saw the Dalai Lama in Tibet,
the abode of the Gods,” recalled Mr Ford, who has also written a book
entitled, “Captured in Tibet”, about his experience in Tibet.
He joined the British Mission in Lhasa in 1945 as a radio
officer. The same year he was transferred to Gangtok (Sikkim), where he
worked for British-India relations with Tibet. In 1947 when India
became independent, he returned to Lhasa and became the first foreigner
to be given an official Tibetan rank after his appointment by the
Government of Tibet.
“Tibetan Buddhists do not proselytise. Throughout my years in
Tibet, I never felt any pressure to convert. Conversely I found a
remarkable tolerance of my own Christian religion”, said the
85-year-old Ford, who had enjoyed a privileged life in Tibet from 1945
to 1950, when he was arrested by the Chinese forces and wrongly accused
of espionage and spreading anti-communist propaganda.
|Mr Robert Ford addresses the function|
Mr Tsering Tashi, Representative of His Holiness the
Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, Poland and the Baltic Countries, based
at the London Office of Tibet, said that despite some of the official
Chinese criticisms, His Holiness’ is respected all over the world as a
man of peace and with a high moral standing.
“The warmth with which His Holiness was greeted by the
leadership and the public in this country during his visit to London,
Nottingham and Oxford this May was a testimony of this fact. And
despite all the official Chinese criticisms, the international
recognition of His Holiness continues to grow,” said Mr Tashi.
He said only last month he had the great honour of collecting two awards on behalf of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“One was the International Statesman of the Year award given at
the UK House magazine’s parliamentary awards ceremony which was hosted
by the BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson and attended by ministers
and parliament members,” he said.
The other was the honorary citizenship bestowed upon His
Holiness by the Polish city of Wroclaw. During the awards presentation
ceremony, the mayor of Wroclaw not only expressed their sympathy for
the plight of the Tibetans inside Tibet but also lauded His Holiness
the Dalai Lama’s leadership based on non-violence and compassion that
is a source of much inspiration for them,” he added.
Representative Tsering Tashi also said that more and more
Chinese are showing respect for His Holiness and expressing their
support for the just Tibetan cause through better awareness and
information on Tibet.
He appealed to the Tibetans and supporters to reach out to the
Chinese students, scholars, businessmen and other to inform them about
Tibet’s true situation and the positive stand that His Holiness has
consistently taken to non-violently resolve the issue of Tibet and also
of his support for the Chinese people.
Mr Sonam Frasi, one of the two Europe member of the Tibetan
Parliament-in-Exile said Tibetans in the free world should draw
inspiration from the bravery shown by the Tibetans inside Tibet.
He said the recent uprisings in Tibet have shown how Tibetans
from all walks of life despise the oppressive Chinese policies and that
even the Chinese appointed Panchen Lama has not spoken against the
Tibetans. Speaking about the Western Shugden Group, which had staged
protests during His Holiness’ visits, he said they have become a tool
in the hands of the Chinese authorities and therefore urged Tibetans
and Western Buddhists to be vigilant about their activities.
–Edited by Lobsang Choedak based on report filed by Office of Tibet, London