Dharamshala: The UN, EU and Human Rights Desk at the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), Central Tibetan Administration, together with the Tibet Museum, has completed its 2-week-long speaking tour covering four institutes and one school across West Bengal cities, including Kolkata, Siliguri, Darjeeling and Gangtok in Sikkim. During the speaking tour, the staff of DIIR, Tenzin Kunkhen and Lobsang Kyizom, discussed the current human rights situation in Tibet and why resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict is important to India and the rest of the world. Moreover, the two speakers urged Indian college students to raise their voices against China’s deplorable human rights record in Tibet in their writings and articles and to publish them in journals to keep Tibet at the forefront of public attention. Staff from the Tibet Museum, Tenzin Dolma and Tenzin Khentse, presented an exhibition about the long-standing relations between India and Tibet and the strong ties that existed between the two nations in the past as well as to this day.
The speaking tour highlighted various human rights violations in Tibet under the Chinese occupation, including eviction and demolition of Tibetan Buddhist Institutes at Larung Gar and Yachen Gar in recent years, demolition of religious statues in Kham Drakgo, religious repression, violations of cultural and linguistic rights, torture deaths, and Tibetan self-immolations. In addition, they discussed cases pertaining to Chinese interference in Tibet’s religious practices, in particular the reincarnation system, as well as the Central Tibetan Administration’s Middle Way Approach.
The second part of the presentation primarily focused on Tibet’s significance to India as well as the neighbouring Asian countries as a water tower. Additionally, the speaker, Lobsang Kyizom, discussed the long-standing ties that Tibet has shared with India, whether in terms of Buddhism, medicine, language, or culture. She encouraged the Indian university students to support the Tibetan cause through various means, such as participating in Tibetan Support Groups in their localities, writing research papers and a thesis on the relations between India and Tibet and the significance of Tibet to India and the world as a whole.
Approximately 450 students and faculty members were reached through the speaking tour on human rights in Tibet and the exhibition at the Tibet Museum on India and Tibet relations. The students at Sanskrit College and University, Kolkata, Raiganj University, Raiganj, St. Joseph’s College North Point, Darjeeling, and Sikkim University, Sikkim actively engaged with the speakers during the Question and Answer session which exceeded the allotted 45 minutes.
On the afternoon of 15 September 2023, the Department of IQAC, Sanskrit College and University, DIIR of the Central Tibetan Administration, and Ganasamannay Kolkata jointly organised a seminar on India and Tibet: History and Heritage. Among the four panellists for the seminar are Ruby Mukherjee, president of Ganasamannay, Kolkata; Dr. Mausumi Sen Bhattacharya, Associate Professor at Sanskrit College; Tenzin Kunkhen, and Lobsang Kyizom, Central Tibetan Administration. A total of forty students and faculty members attended the seminar at Sanskrit College and University.
The DIIR team successfully showed the Tibet Museum Exhibition on India and Tibet Relations at the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural School thanks to the kind assistance of Sonam Lhundup Lama, Secretary of the Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet (HIMCAT). The Exhibition was attended by around 100 people, including students, parents, faculty, and local residents. Before leaving for Raiganj for their next programme, the DIIR staff had lunch at the school.
On the morning of 19 September 2023, the Department of History, Raiganj University organised “One Day International Seminar on Tibet’s Relevance and Why it Matters”. As part of the DIIR program, the DIIR speakers briefly presented the Central Tibetan Administration and discussed the deplorable current human rights situation in Tibet under the PRC government. In addition, they discussed the Indian government’s position on Tibet and urged students and faculty to urge their parliamentarians to revise India’s Tibet policy. Following the presentation, students and faculty expressed their support for Tibet through suggestions and questions. Dr. Deepak Kumar Roy, Vice Chancellor of Raiganj University, and Dr. Babulal Bala, Head of the History Department, were both extremely supportive of the program at Raiganj University. Over 100 faculty and students attended the talk. After the talk, the University provided lunch for the team and arranged for a vehicle to take them to their next destination. The DIIR team received a very warm reception from the Vice Chancellor and the faculties of the University.
The DIIR team arrived at St. Joseph’s College North Point in Darjeeling on the afternoon of 20 September 2023 and addressed the worsening current situation inside Tibet under Chinese rule, as well as the importance of Indian youth taking Tibet seriously given the rich cultural and traditional ties between the two countries dating back thousands of years. More than 100 History students from various semesters attended the talk organised by Dr. Samir Sharma, Associate Professor at the College. The students asked questions concerning the Middle Way Policy, the official policy of the Central Tibetan Administration for resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict. Following the presentation, students had the opportunity to read about the Museum Exhibition located outside the seminar room.
On 22 September 2023, the DIIR team concluded its speaking tour by giving a talk at Sikkim University in Gangtok regarding Tibet’s human rights situation and its importance to India and other Asian neighbours. Dr. Sangmu Thendup, Professor, organised the event and students from the History department attended. A number of senior batches and faculty members of the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology also attended the talk, bringing the number of attendees to more than 100. Following the presentation, students and faculty members asked questions to which the speakers responded to the best of their abilities. Dr. Ambika Dhaka, the Head of the History Department, concluded the program by praising the team for conducting the Tibet Awareness talk and welcoming future collaboration between the University and the CTA.
The speaking trip garnered a resoundingly positive response from college students and teachers. The discussion ranged from human rights violations in Tibet and the Middle Way Approach policy as a viable solution to the international stand on Tibet and how students can contribute to this struggle.
-Filed by the UN, EU, and the Human Rights Desk, Tibet Advocacy Section, DIIR