Sikyong Penpa Tsering, during his short stop-over in the UK, en-route to Washington DC, to primarily speak at the University of Oxford’s prestigious Oxford Union Society, covered a wide range of engagements with media, think tanks, students and staff of Oxford University as well as interact with Tibetan compatriots to raise awareness of the Tibetan situation inside Tibet and outside.
On Monday, 30 January 2023, Sikyong was greeted at London Heathrow Airport by Representative Sonam Frasi, Tibetan Community in Britain and local Tibetans before heading straight to Tibet House, where he had a luncheon meeting with the staff of the Office of Tibet, London. Later that afternoon, he had a meeting with a BBC Executive Producer. Sikyong’s first day’s engagement ended with a visit to London’s Piccadilly Circus to pay homage to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s the Art of Hope produced by CIRCA.
On the second day, 31st January morning, Sikyong visited BBC studios in Portland Place to give two separate interviews with different departments of BBC World Service before heading to Oxford University. He was greeted by a member of the Oxford Union Society at the entrance and taken on a tour of the Oxford Union including a corridor where a framed picture taken of the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama dated 2 December 1991 was on display alongside those of many other famous and respected world leaders.
In the Oxford Union’s debating hall, under the talk titled Tibet – An Unresolved International Conflict, Sikyong spoke eloquently for about 20 minutes on Tibet’s glorious past – militarily, spiritually, transliteration and culturally; international impact of the present impasse with PRC – environment, water security, trade and global peace; and the future aspirations of resolving the conflict with China peacefully as guided by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach adopted as a policy by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. He also referenced two books – Tibet Brief and Tibet Was Never a Part of China Since Antiquity – on the legality of Tibet’s historical status of independence from China.
This was followed by 40 minutes of Q&A during which Sikyong among other issues,
- reiterated his unwavering faith and commitment in following the advice and guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama;
- highlighted the strong Tibetan spirit still inside Tibet, their courage in protecting their religion and belief system, despite the heavy surveillance of gridlocks and AI tools used to control the Tibetans in Tibet, and the all-pervasive sinicisation including the colonial-style schools, rolled into all walks of life for the Tibetans under Xi Jinping’s policy of One-Nation China;
- shared his concerns on the repercussions of the mega damming programme along Tibet’s rivers;
- expressed his disappointment in the inherent weakness in the structure of United Nations Organisation to rein in even one rogue member of the Security Council;
- touched on Tibetan relationship with other victims of China’s persecution like the Uyghurs, Hongkongers and Mongolians; and
- rejected CCP’s claim on the reincarnation process of His Holiness the Dalai Lama referring to His Holiness’ 2011 statement and Kashag’s six-point statement dated 29 September 2022
In conclusion, Sikyong implored the international community to take responsibility for creating this monster called ‘China’ and projected Tibetans as a strong internal force that partners with the international community in bringing positive change inside China.
After the Oxford Union talk, he was interviewed by the editor of the Oxford University students’ magazine. More meetings with smaller group of students and staff of the Oxford University continued in a different hall during which request came to speak at a future event in Oxford. Some asked how they can support Tibet and Sikyong advised them to open an Oxford chapter of Students for Free Tibet or join UK-based Tibet Support Groups.
Sikyong then addressed a gathering of around 20 Tibetans living in and around Oxford including those studying and working at the University of Oxford. He explained to them the policies and priorities of the 16th Kashag, highlighting areas and platforms where Tibetans in the West and CTA can work together, and the objectives of V-TAG and the population survey. He then responded earnestly to questions, concerns, suggestions shared by the Tibetans in attendance, and requested them to work on preserving our language and support the Office of Tibet, London, in raising awareness about Tibet, especially the highly educated people present there.
On the morning of Wednesday, 1 February, the day of his departure to USA, Sikyong was interviewed by an international think tank based in Cambridge and participated in Drukthar’s DrukTalk podcast before heading to the airport with the staff of the Office of Tibet, London.
This visit was organised by the Office of Tibet, London at a short notice considering the importance of the invitation received from the Oxford Union Society and it helped to enhance understanding of the current Tibetan situation and standpoint. Additionally, this visit works as a perfect precursor to Sikyong’s forthcoming visit in April when the Office of Tibet has lined up a heavy schedule of engagements that are more of political and diplomatic nature.
–Filed by the Office of Tibet, London