Dharamshala — Monday, July 6, 2015, the 80th birthday of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan people will be observed as 'World Tibet Day' by Tibet Support Groups and Tibet supporters all over the world.
Friends of Tibet, one of the principal organisers of 'World Tibet Day', expects more than 40 countries to join the event with various events and related activities. This is the first time World Tibet Day is being observed after the demise of its founder, Richard Rosenkranz who passed away on October 9, 2014.A Pulitzer Prize nominee and a former correspondent from the US Senate, Rosenkranz was instrumental in making World Tibet Day one of the most important events in the Tibetan Calendar.
World Tibet Day (WTD) was first initiated in Chicago in 1997 at an informal meeting between Tendzin Choegyal, the Dalai Lama's younger brother and Richard Rosenkranz. Envisaged and proposed by Rosenkranz who intended for WTD to be an annual worldwide event, designed to help the Tibetan people regain their essential freedoms and celebrate the unique value of Tibetan culture and thought.
Upon the encouragement and suggestion of Tendzin Choegyal, it was decided that WTD be held on July 6th, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birthday, which he believed would gain more support from Tibetans. The idea was then broached to to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama who was ecstatic about an event of this order. He remarked, "The World Tibet Day has helped greatly in raising awareness and support for the Tibetan cause and opened many hearts to the essential rights of the Tibetan people to preserve their culture and to practice their religion freely."
Sethu Das, Director, World Tibet Day Foundation, said "One positive action each of us can take, no matter which country we live in, is to urge our government and our elected representatives to approach the Chinese Government on behalf of the Tibetan people in order to restore its lost religious, social and political freedom. One of our goals with World Tibet Day is to put pressure on decision makers in China to agree to negotiations with the Tibetan government in exile in India without any preconditions."
The event apart from helping Tibetans in Tibet to strive for emancipation and showcasing the diaspora of Tibetan culture, also highlights the genocidal threats that Tibetan people and culture face today.
According to the World Tibet Day Foundation, the way the WTD events are celebrated in each country is unique and different, with local organisers showing a great deal of independence in the campaigns they pursue on behalf of Tibet. An example is the worldwide boycott of goods produced in mainland China. Many Tibetan Associations encourage participants at their WTD events to support this campaign in order to help pressure the Chinese government into ending human rights abuses aimed at the Tibetan people.
Meanwhile, Chinese Authorities have clamped down on celebrations of the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday by patrolling the area, blocking public gatherings and limiting the use of social media thereby forcing Tibetan families to engage in private celebrations inside their homes. The authorities are also preventing people from entering monasteries for recitals or prayers.
On June 20, 2015, police arrested Tsering Dondrub, a young Tibetan for possessing an image of the Tibetan flag and a photo of HH the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The whereabouts of Tsering Dondrub remain unknown to this day.
Demonstrations, challenging the communist regime that has encumbered Tibet, continue since 2008 when widespread protests swept the region. More that 141 Tibetans partook in self immolation, demanding independence and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama.