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solidarity-2013Dharamshala: - Tibetan minister Pema Chhinjor urged intellectuals and scholars from the Tibetan community to join and be part of the Tibetan administration and to use their knowledge and ability to further strengthen the Tibetan cause.

A prayer service and official gathering was organized by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration at the Tsuglakhang in Dharamshala in memory of the Tibetans who set themselves on fire, protesting the Chinese rule and calling for the return of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Tibet. Since 2009, at least 117 Tibetans are reported to have lost their lives this way.

The prayer service, which was conducted on 17 May, 2013, was organised as part of the observance of International Solidarity Day,

On this day in 1995, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, Gendhun Choeki Nyima disappeared suspiciously at the age of 6.

Kalon Pema Chhinjor of the Department of Religion and Culture spoke of the strength that has been displayed by the Tibetan community in exile. He also called out to Tibetan authors and scholars, who frequently criticise the workings of the CTA and the Tibetan parliament to do something constructive and beneficial for the Tibetan community, stressing that "there were plenty of seats available at the Tibetan parliament".

The Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Ven. Khenpo Sonam Tenphel stated that the fact "that his whereabouts still remain unknown clearly symbolizes the continuing tragic situation in Tibet, where courageous Tibetans are still being imprisoned and their basic rights recognised only in forced denials is the reason why 17th of May has especially been set aside for observing this special occasion".

Ven. Sonam Themphel said that the Tibetan parliament in exile remained hopeful that " as a result of this day being observed in places across the world, definite appreciable gains will be seen in the furtherance of the Tibetan cause with regard to Tibet's both immediate and long term religious, political and ethnic well being".

He expressed his gratitude to the "United Nations, governments of numerous countries, organizations and groups, as well as private individuals, who have adopted resolutions, issued statements and so on, on the tragic situation in Tibet today, expressing solidarity with and support for the Tibetan people". He also thanked the "government and people of India for their continuing and phenomenal generosity towards the Tibetan people".

The day concluded with performances by members of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts and a mass recitation of 'Words of Truth', a prayer composed by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.