12th September 2019, London: The ‘Dialogue for Peace’ road-trip team of three led by Ven Thupten Wangchen, Member of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, arrived from Paris onto England shores on the evening of 10th September.
An advance team of the Tibetan Community in Britain drove to about 20 miles from Woolwich area, south-east of London, to meet and drive along with the ‘Dialogue for Peace’ car to General Gordon Square in Woolwich, where a large number of Tibetans had gathered to greet the cars as it entered the square. The Office of Tibet, London and the Tibetan Community in Britain was joined by Tibet Support Groups and the larger Tibetan community, including lots of young enthusiastic Tibetan children, as they accorded a warm traditional Tibetan-style welcome to Ven Wangchen and his two companions.
A short and sweet welcome ceremony was held there drawing attention of the passersby in the busy square – where Ven Wangchen thanked one and all for the warm welcome, and explained the objective of his initiative: to call upon politicians and parliamentarians, in the 30 European countries he is touring, to help bring about a dialogue between envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership.
The ‘Dialogue for Peace’ team them made their way to Tibet House: their temporary residence during their London sojourn.
The following day, on 11th September, the white Dazia car drove through the busy streets of London passing through vital routes such as Westminster, Buckingham Palace and Downing Street etc. & through landmarks such as Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square, drawing curious looks from the tourists and locals alike.
Despite it being the second day since the UK Parliament was prorogued for the next five weeks, Hon Kerry McCarthy MP, Labour MP for Bristol East, received Ven Wangchen at the Portcullis House and accompanied him to the Parliament building for a quick meeting over afternoon tea.
Ven Wangchen, holding the white dove butter lamp, explained the objective behind his road trip and called on the UK parliamentarian to continue supporting for dialogue to resolve Tibet issue.
Hon Kerry McCarthy MP later tweeted after the meeting to say ‘We urgently need dialogue with China about Tibet’s future, not least to address the growing environmental catastrophe caused by ice melt in ‘the Third pole’.’ An opportunity arose there to briefly meet with Hon Angus Brendan MacNeil MP of the Scottish National Party who expressed his support for dialogue and peace.
Outside at the Parliament Square, Ven Wangchen sought blessings in front of the statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Driving from there to the area opposite the Chinese Embassy in London, the Dialogue for Peace car was parked right opposite the Chinese Embassy, where Tibetans and Tibet supporters gathered for ‘Lhakar’ (White Wednesday) vigil. Ven Wangchen, holding aloft the white dove butter lamp on one hand and a Tibetan flag on the other, addressed the gathering. Speaking passionately he urged the Chinese leaders to ‘open their hearts and minds’ and to restart the dialogue to resolve Tibet’s future. Joined by the representatives of the Tibetan Community in Britain and Tibet Support Groups, Ven Wangchen and his two companions walked over to the Chinese Embassy to hand-deliver their letter calling for dialogue but there was no one willing to accept the letter, as usual.
Today, the Dialogue for Peace team will be hosted at Samten Khyil, Tibetan Peace Garden, at 12noon by Tibet Foundation. The Peace Garden was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama 20 years ago and is being maintained by Tibet Foundation.
Later the Tibet Relief Fund, a UK charity helping Tibetans in exile, will be hosting the Dialogue for Peace team at their office over a simple lunch with TRF staff and guests.
The team will then drive up north to Yorkshire to join the monks of Tashi Lhunpo monastery at Harewood House for an event on 13th September. They then drive their way to Edinburgh in Scotland for two days program from 13th & 14th September.
-Filed by Office of Tibet, London