On this joyous occasion of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday, on behalf of Kashag and Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, I would like to express our deepest reverence to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
On this very day in 1935, following numerous auspicious signs and symbols, Lhamo Dhondup was born to father Choekyong Tsering and mother Dekyi Tsering in Taktser village, located in the Amdo region of Tibet. We owe deep gratitude to the great parents for blessing us with their precious son. His Holiness’ birth at the fringes of the Tibetan plateau is similar to previous great Lamas and several Dalai Lamas who have chosen specific birthplaces to signify unity in Tibet.
The three Great Dharma Kings of Tibet united the land like no other kings did before them. After Tibet disintegrated into small kingdoms, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama united the whole of Tibet under a single administration of the Gadhen Phodrang government.
His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama, even at a young age, had the vision of a strong united Tibet. Enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of five, he had to take over the spiritual and temporal authority of Tibet at the tender age of 16, at a time when the People’s Republic of China illegally occupied Tibet. The young Dalai Lama immediately formed the Reform Committee to cater to the welfare of poor Tibetans, irrespective of their provincial or religious affiliations. This committee intrinsically helped strengthen Tibetan unity.
At the age of 24, when His Holiness’ efforts for a peaceful resolution with China did not materialize, he declared the continuation of the Gadhen Phodrang government as the legitimate government of Tibet and its temporary establishment at Lhuntsedzong. After His Holiness sought refuge in India, it was in the hilly Indian town of Mussoorie that His Holiness instituted the Kashag of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile affirming their commitment to fostering unity among Tibetans. In May 1960, the Central Tibetan Administration was moved to Dharamsala and to ensure administrative effectiveness, His Holiness announced the portfolio of the Kalons.
On November 17, 1959 in Mussoorie and on July 1st, 1960 in Dalhousie, His Holiness shared his vision of democracy. He said, “It is wrong and very dangerous to harbor prejudices between U-Tsang, Amdo and Kham. You should continue to develop.
internal harmony and be as firmly united as an iron ball.” With a steadfast commitment to represent unity among Tibetans, leaders of all three provinces, monastic institutions and former staff members of the Gaden Phodrang government in Tibet gathered at Bodhgaya and took the Na-gyen Chenmo (great oath) and pledged iron-like unity under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
On September 2, 1960, Tibetans elected the members of parliament and subsequently the first parliamentary meeting was held on the very same day now being commemorated as the Tibetan Democracy Day. The very formation of the parliament on the basis of the three traditional provinces and four religious sects and Bon was to institutionalize the unity of Tibetan people. By the same token, the members of the parliament are referred to as Chithue (people’s representative) – delineating their representation of Tibet and the common aspirations of Tibetan people devoid of regional and sectarian biases.
His Holiness from the early years of exile history sensed the imperative of creating able leaders both in the secular and monastic communities, who would provide able leadership to the cause of Tibet. Accordingly, education was given the top priority and Tibetan schools were established discarding any preference for regional or sectarian connections. Tibetan settlements were set up, allowing people from all provinces and sects to be common Tibetan citizens and coexist peacefully. Monasteries and nunneries were established so that monks and nuns could be educated and be foremost Tibetans. His Holiness has worked hard to ensure that unity is the thread that ties Tibetans together during trying times.
Our exile history tells us that for the first few decades, there have been instances of regional and sectarian discord but they have been diluted overtime. Since the 90s, for two decades, harmony and unity among Tibetans was widespread and were at its peak. Hence in 2011, His Holiness believing in Tibetan unity and political maturity accordingly devolved his political authority to the elected leadership.
However, during the final round of the 2016 election of Sikyong and the members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, traits of regionalism was raised. His Holiness was hurt as made clear from his speech during the 2016 swearing-in-ceremony of Sikyong. “I was pained to see the degradation of morality and the overtones of regional biases during the election campaign. It is very unfortunate. The unity of the three traditional provinces of Tibet is of primary importance. Therefore, we should do away with this warped sense of biases to regions and move on as one. If you consider me your friend, please pay attention to what I have said.”
This remark by His Holiness the Dalai Lama bears a disconcerting resemblance to the ones given in 1959 and 1960. Instead of progression, the final elections witnessed regression. Regional biases were not only expressed, but acted upon, thereby creating disharmony. However there is a window of opportunity for us to rectify our mistakes and redefine our destiny. Mahatma Gandhi had said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become values and values become your destiny.” Therefore, we urge Tibetans everywhere to remove their regional and sectarian partisanship from their thoughts, words and actions because we cannot afford to churn them into our destiny.
His Holiness has graciously bestowed upon us an opportunity to start fresh. On June 19, 2016 at a gathering of Tibetans living in California, he said, “In the recent election, although there have been a little dust storm, the sky and the earth is now clear and pure.” Every Tibetan should not only pay heed to His Holiness’ precious advice but also channel it into action. Now that the dust has settled, let us take a moment to look forward to our future with a renewed sense of conviction, purpose and action.
Tibetans inside Tibet revere His Holiness as manifestation of Chenrezig (Buddha of Compassion) and as the life and soul of Tibet. The spate of self-immolations in Tibet saw Tibetans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Tibetans across the length and breadth of the three provinces of Utsang, Kham and Amdo, risking arrest and imprisonment celebrated His Holiness’s 80th birthday in the grandest manner possible. They continue to gather in droves to offer prayers for His Holiness’ long life. On the other hand, exile Tibetans are fortunate to be in close proximity to His Holiness. The least we can do is to heed to his advice by upholding the principles of unity and preserving our unique language, religion and culture. Unity is the only way to move forward.
We vehemently condemn the fringe group of extremists who bear the name of Shugden and have been making concerted efforts to denigrate the work and accomplishments of His Holiness. While we deplore the planned demonstrations orchestrated by the Chinese government against His Holiness, we avow to take the strictest possible action to confront and challenge these matters. Likewise, we admonish the acts of few individuals using social media and other networks to engage in irresponsible acts of staging baseless and malicious attacks against leaders of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). We urge the public to remain cautious and vigilant and not be gullible to these anti-social behaviors of few people with vested interest.
When US President Barack Obama met His Holiness at the White House on 15 June this year, he discussed the critical political situation of Tibetans inside Tibet and the implications of environmental degradation on the Tibetan plateau. The President encouraged meaningful and direct dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his representatives with Chinese authorities to lower tensions and resolve differences. The President also welcomed His Holiness’ leadership on climate change issues, and expressed support for his efforts to raise awareness of the importance of limiting global warming, including to protect the Himalayan glaciers and the environment on the Tibetan plateau.
President Obama emphasized his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the equal protection of human rights of Tibetan people. The President lauded His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach. The CTA profoundly thank President Obama and the US Government. We remain firmly committed to the Middle Way Policy and will take concrete measures to ensure that dialogue with China takes place in the near future.
Globally, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is recognized as a messenger of peace and harbinger of hope and harmony for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the Templeton Prize for his fervent advocacy of religious harmony. The US Congressional Gold Medal was conferred on him for his efforts towards realizing a one world, one humanity and one environment. The UN Earth Prize was awarded to His Holiness for his efforts to preserve the global environment. Over the last few decades, His Holiness has visited 67 countries spanning 6 continents and authored over 100 books, advocating global peace and harmony. His Holiness’ magnanimity and his pioneering accomplishments have provided a firm support for the cause of Tibet.
On this most special occasion we extend our deepest gratitude to the citizens and Government of this great country India for their continued hospitality and unflinching support towards the Tibetan people. We also express our sincere thanks to all the Governments, Parliamentarians, friends of Tibet and freedom loving people across the globe who support the cause of Tibet.
I once again express my deepest gratitude to His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama for his benevolent presence amongst us. With immense respect, we pray for his long life, to the age of one hundred and thirteen as graciously expressed by him. We reaffirm our unwavering loyalty and devotion to him. May all his wishes be fulfilled. May the non-violent cause of Tibet prevail.
July 6, 2016
Note: This is a translation of the Tibetan statement. Should any discrepancies arise, please treat the Tibetan version as final and authoritative.