London: The 59th anniversary of the Tibetan Democracy Day was marked in the London Borough of Waltham Forest Council, located north-west of London, with the ceremonial hoisting of the Tibetan national flag outside the Town Hall.
This is the second year in a row that the Tibetan national flag was raised here.
Organised by Councillor Kastriot Berberi with the joint collaboration of The Office of Tibet, London and the Tibetan Community in Britain, the Flag Raising Ceremony, held outside the Assembly Hall, was graced by The Mayor, Councillor Christopher Robbins CBE; other Councillors and Town Hall staff; senior police officers of the London Borough of Waltham Forest Council, Tibet supporters including council/staff members from the Tibet Society, Tibet Relief Fund & Free Tibet; and Tibetans in Britain. Ms Youdon Aukatsang, Member of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, who is in the UK for work meetings with the Tibet Relief Fund, was also present at the ceremony.
After Cllr Berberi welcomed everyone to the formal ceremony, it was time for the speeches.
Mr Sonam Tsering Frasi, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, the Baltic States & Poland, explained the significance of the ceremonial flag-raising on Tibetan Democracy Day in one of the major London Boroughs in London, which has been awarded the London Borough of Culture 2019, as a very special moment. Thanking all those involved for this ceremony, he requested for this to be an annual event of the Waltham Forest Council.
Ms Youdon Aukatsang, Member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, expressed how great an honour it was for her to be present at this ceremonial flag-raising event, especially as Tibetans celebrate the 59th anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day – the democratic rights and privileges gifted to the Tibetans by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in exile. Expressing her concern at the repressive policies by the Chinese authorities in Tibet and China’s increasing aggression overseas, she urged the international community to stand up strongly for values and ideals such as liberty and freedom wherever they are threatened in the world. She concluded her address by stating that she looked forward enthusiastically to the moment when the Tibetan flag would be ceremonially raised.
At around five past one pm, the Tibetan flag was ceremonially raised atop the high flag pole as the Tibetan community sang the national anthem with full vigour and passion.
Young Tibetan children, who are at the end of their summer holidays before their new school term begins the next day, dressed in their complete traditional attire, presented two beautifully choreographed Tibetan dance performances enthralling the audience with their smooth moves.
It was then the Mayor’s turn to thank the Tibetan community for enriching the cultural diversity of the Borough with their Tibetan Buddhist culture of compassion, for their contribution to the wider community with their presence. He minced no words in expressing his strong support for Tibet and Tibetan culture and assured everyone that the ceremonial raising of the Tibetan national flag will happen at the Borough every year – drawing the loudest applause from all those present.
He then invited everyone inside to the Council Chamber for another round of the formal event.
Inside the packed Chamber Hall, the Mayor once again welcomed all to the official chamber and reiterated his support for Tibet. The Representative and Tibetan Parliamentarian once again addressed the gathering, this time from the Council floor. While the Representative called for such a flag-raising ceremony to be an annual event of the Waltham Forest Council, the Tibetan Parliamentarian suggested that a Resolution on Tibet could be something the Mayor and the Councillors could work on in future on such historic days. The young Tibetan children showcased their talent on the Tibetan guitar, dra-nyen.
Tenzin Kunga representing the Tibetan Community in Britain in the last speech of the ceremony thanked especially The Mayor, Cllr Berberi and Tibet supporters for their presence at the flag-raising ceremony stating that the Tibetan national flag symbolises truth, justice, peace and compassion.
To round off the ceremony, all those present were invited to sample the Tibetan fare that was arranged for by the local Tibetan residents of Waltham Forest Council and the Tibetan Community in Britain.
Overall it was a great day of celebration for everyone, Tibetan and non-Tibetans, blessed with warm summer weather coupled with the knowledge that such an event might be an annual feature.
-Filed by Office of Tibet, London