Ngawang Sangdrol’s talk bring tears in Tibetan eyes
Copenhagen: The recently released internationally-known former Tibetan political prisoner, Ngawang Sangdrol, brought spontaneus tears when she spoke of her prison experience this evening here to members of the Tibetan Community in Denmark. Despite the well-documented harsh prison life she had experienced, it was amazing that Ngawang Sangdrol hardly showed any hatred or used bad words to describe China or the authoritarian Chinese rule in occupied Tibet.
“There are still many Tibetan political prisoners languishing in Chinese jails in Tibet. They have suffered more than me. I, therefore, appeal to you all to continue doing everything possible for their release and freedom and please abide by the advice of our supreme leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” said the soft-spoken and humble Ngawang Sangdrol who apparently was moved by the emotional reunion with fellow-Tibetans in exile and the warmth with which she was received and served with traditional Tibetan butter tea and ‘khabtses’ (cookies).
Ngawang Sangdrol is in Denmark to receive a special audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama scheduled on Monday and is also attending the 5-day public teachings by His Holiness on “The Six Paramitas Leading to Ultimate Liberation”. The Paramita is a Sanskrit word meaning to transcend the mundane level and achieve mental perfection in the given practice. The teachings in Tibetan with English, Danish and German translations, has been hosted by the Denmark-based Tibet Charity founded in 1997 by the Tibetan philosopher T.D. Lakha Lama with the aim of primarily supporting the preservation of Tibetan culture and the Tibetan refugee communities in India and Nepal.
Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, based at the Office of Tibet in London, lauded Ngawang Sangdrol’s sense of nationalism and courage. With tears in her eyes and occasionally sobbing, she urged the Tibetan gathering to continue their determination to work for the common cause and to shoulder the responsibility of properly representing the Tibetan nation. She also presented Ngawang Sangrol with a framed certificate of Honorary Citizenship awarded by the Northampton City Council of UK, and received on her behalf when she was still in prison, at an official function held on 8 March 2002. The citation reads: “Certificate of Honorary Citizenship awarded to Ngawang Sangdrol in Recognition of the Suffering of the People of Tibet.”
During the question and answer session, members of the Tibetan community, some, as a lady put it, ‘with tears of sadness and joy’ expressed their gratitude for all the sacrifice that she has made for Tibet’s freedom at such a young age. Now aged 26, Ngawang Sangdrol was first arrested in 1990 as a young 13-year-old Buddhist nun and became known as one of Tibet’s longest serving female political prisoners, until her release and arrival in the United States on 28th March this year to undergo medical examination. She then reached Switzerland on 6th May at the invitation of the Swiss government for medical treatment and is being looked after by the Office of Tibet and the Tibetan community there.
Asked about how she felt when she for the first time saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 4th June, the day the Tibetan spiritual and political leader arrived in Denmark from a successful visit to Sweden, Ngawang Sangdrol said it was like a dream.
“When I heard His Holiness was coming on 4th June, I was so happy and nervous. When I actually saw His Holiness coming (walking through the hotel lobby), it was like a dream and I also felt very sad,” said Ngawang Sangdrol, adding that thereafter she does not remember anything.
It may be recalled that on 4th June those who were waiting and had lined up to greet His Holiness at the down town hotel saw how Ngawang Sangdrol unable to control her emotions and tears fell on the feet of His Holiness who very gently tried to raise her up. It was a scene that brought tears to the eyes of many Tibetans and Westerners present, including those who carried her away to a quite place to help restore her conscious.
The plight of Ngawang Sangdrol and her courage under difficult prison circumstances has touched the hearts of many young Tibetans in exile, both in the Indian sub-continent and the West.
“She has a very strong will power and I think she is very intelligent and brave. I feel it is our duty to help her and I feel honoured to be able to do so,” said Tashi Yangzom Lungthok, a member of the Tibetan Women’s Association of Switzerland, who is accompanying Ngawang Sangdrol during the teachings. The young Tibetan who works in a hospital in Zurich also is hosting Ngawang at her home.
Sangay Lhamo who lives in Denmark told the Europe correspondent of the Radio Free Asia (Tibetan language service) that she was very moved when she heard about the sufferings of Ngawang Sangdrol in the prison.
“I then had a feeling that I must do something,” said Lhamo who is in her early twenties and had taken off from work to meet and hear Ngawang Sangdrol.
Another young Tibetan shared a similarly moving, though different feeling with this writer.
“When I heard about Ngawang Sangdrol-la’s sufferings, I felt fortunate to have been born outside Chinese-occupied Tibet. Now that Ngawang sangdrol-la is living in the free world, I pray for her well-being,” said Tsering Dolkar who lives in India and is visiting relatives in Denmark.
Yesterday, at the invitation of the Danish Tibet Support Group, Ngawang Sangdrol gave a public talk that many in the audience found highly moving and inspiring. When asked if she needed any help, she replied by saying that she and some other political prisoners were released apparently because of the efforts of His Holiness, and support received from the international community and therefore appealed for the same good work to be continued for the release of the remaining political prisoners in Tibet.
By Tsering Tashi (Office of Tibet, London)