DHARAMSHALA: In an unprecedented first, the Kashag of Central Tibetan Administration convened a historic gathering of leaders from 11 nations, ten parliaments and 60-member Chinese intellectuals from Taiwan, proper China and abroad to mark the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day.
Sixty years ago on this day in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, thousands of Tibetans-united by the indomitable Tibetan spirit- staged a defiant, yet peaceful nationwide uprising against the illegal occupation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China. In the following days and weeks, the Chinese military brutally suppressed the peaceful uprising resulting in the death of tens of thousands of Tibetans.
This years’ and the 60th commemoration of the Tibetan Uprising Day at the seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration was graced by His Excellency Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, former President of the Republic of Botswana and participated by a galaxy of Parliamentarians and Chinese intellectuals from across the world.
“Our own presence here today is testament to the fact that while the March 10 patriots were physically defeated, the spiritual struggle for a Free Tibet lives on in the hearts and minds not only of Tibetans at home and in exile, but also among growing numbers within the international community,” said the Chief guest and former President of Botswana HE Seretse Khama Ian Khama speaking at the CTA’s official ceremony earlier today.
Extolling the Central Tibetan Administration’s Middle Way Approach and its active global engagement on drawing attention to the severity of environmental deterioration in Tibet, he said, “The fact that the Tibetan struggle, as reflected in the teachings and diplomacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as manifested in the political outreach of the Central Tibetan Administration, continues to be based on the “Middle Way” doctrine of non-violence and dialogue ultimately aimed at reconciliation with the Chinese state is truly remarkable given the extreme repression Tibetans have endured, in both the Maoist and post-Mao eras.”
“I welcome the fact that Central Tibetan Administration has for its part actively engaged the world community on environmental issues through Ten Point Action document, which urges the international community through the United Nations, as well as the Chinese government, to focus on measures to protect it as the “Roof of the World” for the good of humanity.”
The former President delivered a sharp rebuke to China for charging threats over the proposed but unsuccessful visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Botswana in 2017.
He said, “While the authorities in Beijing may have the power to suppress basic freedoms within their own jurisdiction they should not be allowed to exercise the same repressive authority outside of their borders including illegal territorial claims in the South China Sea.”
“It was for this reason that in 2017 when I was still President of Botswana, we refused to give in to Chinese government pressure when they threatened us if we failed to bar His Holiness the Dalai Lama from entering Botswana.
“Unfortunately, notwithstanding our principled stand, in the end, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was unable to attend the gathering, which otherwise attracted esteemed participants from the region and beyond.”
In further rebuke, he said, “It therefore defies logic that some still believe that his influence can be diminished by seeking to deny others the opportunity of his physical presence.”
“In this way, the persistent efforts to block the Dalai Lama from ever coming to Africa have merely raised his profile across our continent.”
Concluding his address with what he called “a message of hope for the people of Tibet,” HE Khama said, “While your own struggle has been long and painful, you can take solace in the fact that in your hearts you remain undefeated, in your minds you are already liberated. With such a mindset and the power of your collective determination, your own victory is ultimately certain.”
“The struggle continues, but victory is certain and Power is ours.”
President Dr Lobsang Sangay, the democratically elected leader of Tibetan people, strongly called out China for the brutal repression of the Tibetan people and crackdown on Tibetan language, culture, unique identity, and spiritual practices in the past 60 years.
“In essence, China has deliberately aimed to eradicate Tibet’s civilization from the face of this earth.,” he said. “Instead of looking to end the 60 years of repression in Tibet, the Chinese government has come out with a “Zero and 100 strategy.” Under this new strategy, zero news from international media and exile Tibetans will be allowed into Tibet and projects 100 percent official propaganda about Tibet to the outside world and the Tibetan community in exile. Hence, we must remain vigilant.”
To his countrymen and women, the President said, “My Tibetan brothers and sisters around the world, in spite of living through the darkest period in our history, we have stood together in unity and achieved a great many things against all odds. Our journey over the past six decades has also been that of hope, resilience, and resistance.”
As he marked the successful yearlong observance of the Thank you Year, Dr Sangay thanked the international friends and supporters, including the Tibet Support Groups for the “insurmountable support”. He acknowledged the Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) in 54 different countries, 40 countries hosting Parliamentary Support Groups, Japan as the host of the largest All-Party Parliamentary TSG comprising of 90 members, the Czech Parliamentary Group for Tibet which is the largest in Europe with over 50 representatives from both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
Aimed at sustaining and succeeding the Tibetan freedom struggle, the President officially declared 2019 as the “Year of Commitment” at the ceremony. ”
To ensure that Tibet’s freedom struggle marches forward, the Kashag today officially declares 2019 as the “Year of Commitment”. I want to call upon freedom-loving people of the world to commit to end oppression in Tibet and to commit to fight against impunity. To Tibetan people everywhere, let us continue our commitment to struggle for justice. Let us continue to strengthen our resilience so we can be united with our brothers and sisters in Tibet in freedom. Let us commit to the return of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama to the Potala Palace in Lhasa – where he rightfully belongs.”
Other distinguished guests who spoke at the commemorative event are Hon Shri Shanta Kumar, former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, sitting Member of Indian Parliament; Mr. Michael Brand, Member of the German Bundestag; Mr Thomas Mann, Member of European Parliament, President of the Tibet Interest Group; Mr. Garnett Genuis, member of Parliament from Alberta representing Conservative Party of Canada; Mrs. Lucia Duris Nicholsonova, Deputy Chairman of the Slovak National Council; Ms. Mei Nu Yu, MP, Democratic Progressive Party, Taiwan; Ms Sandy Kalyan, MP, Democratic Alliance, South Africa; Mr Alberto de Belaunde, MP, Liberal Party, Peru; Ms Antonella Incerti and Dr Yang Jianli, Citizen Power Initiatives for China.