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TPI_HRLN2_attendeesDharamshala: - On 2 July, 2011, the Second Legal Education and Awareness Workshop for Tibetan community leaders opened in McleodGanj, Upper Dharamsala, India. The workshop is a joint initiative of the Human Rights Law Network of India and four major Tibetan NGOs; Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women's Association, Students for a Free Tibet-India, and Gu Chu Sum Ex-Political Prisoners Movement.

The workshop was organized into events on two days. The first day was primarily for community leaders to be briefed on legal rights. Approximately 60 attendees from various Tibetan settlements were present. Six separate sessions, each covering a different topic, were presented by a panel of advocates and law students with HRLN.

The event was introduced by Mr. Jitender Rana, a lawyer based in Dharamshala, who gave a brief background of HRLN and how the workshops for the Tibetan community were developed. Following that, Mr. Anant Asthana of the Delhi office discussed the Indian Constitution and how it applies to the Tibetan community. The third session was presented by Mr. Vinayak Narayan, a former TCV student and advocate based in Dharamsala, who covered such issues as Tibetan Registration Certificate (RC or Blue Book) and IC (Identity Certificate, issued to Tibetans in lieu of a passport).

The afternoon sessions included a presentation by Maura Finn, an Emory law student and volunteer with HRLN Delhi office, on requirements for RC, IC and "Special Entry Permits" for Tibetans coming into Nepal and India. Mr. Anand Sharma, an advocate from Shimla, discussed the intricacies of Benami land deals/land ownership. The final session was "facing legal challenges and finding creative solutions".

At various times during the workshop, time was made for audience Question and Answer sessions. The primary topics of concerns were tenant-landlord issues, Birth Certificate procedures, RC issues and procedures, IC and Exit Permit issues, land deals, banking account difficulties, and corruption.

The workshop's second day was a two hour session for the general public to get a better understanding of legal procedures and their rights, and to address their legal concerns. An estimated 150 community members participated. In additional to the HRLN advocates, the panel was joined by Tibetan Member of Parliament Dawa Tsering-la and Dharamsala Police Station Head Officer Ashot Kumar.

At the outset, one of the panelists asked the controversial question "How many of you here are refugees?" The majority of those present raised their hands. The panelists went on to explain that, according to Indian law, Tibetans are not considered refugees, and explained their legal status. Prominent Tibetan activist and writer Tenzin Tsundue and MP Dawa Tsering-la elaborated on the topic.

Dharamsala Police Head Officer Ashot Kumar then spoke about other local rights and responsibilities of community members.

The final portion of the program was devoted to Q and A from citizens. Topics varied widely and included such issues as domestic violence rights, child labor laws and abuses, details of obtaining and renewing RCs, and the status of Tibetan students whose entry permit to India is only valid for the duration of their studies.

The workshop concluded with a presentation of traditional khata, Tibetan prayer scarves, to the panelists and organizers, by members of the organizing NGOs.

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