Dharamshala — Tibetans paid their final respects to Tenzin Choeying, the young martyr who self-immolated protesting Chinese occupation of Tibet on July 14th as his remains were cremated yesterday, before which TPI had an exclusive interview with Choeying's father.
Speaking to TPI, Ngawang Khedrup said, "At a time like this, I would talk about how precious our bodies and lives are. Especially with a youth in the midst of their studies, its a great loss for parents. But if we look beyond this, we see how many of our 6 million Tibetans since 1940 have self immolated, have become political prisoners, how many innocent people have been killed, how many people are imprisoned, how many people have been disappeared, and that is just in brief, without going in to details.
"This feeling is one of pride of our nation, loyalty to our nation, culture and principles. Those who are self-immolating are never without food or water, its not that they don't have family members or loved one, it is never a situation like that. I also think about what His Holiness the Dalai Lama tells us Tibetans: 'From birth until death, you have the responsibility and the right of the Tibetan identity.' Nowadays in society, more people are saying they need rights, which His Holiness the Dalai Lama has given. But when it comes to the common cause, they don't pick up the phone, which is really disappointing. Today I am here speaking in front of the media, and I'm not saying I'm a skilled speaker, I swear. I have no talents, no education, I'm just a new arrival from Tibet.
"As his holiday was ending, he said to me, 'dad, in this life I was born as your child. This came about from the cause and effects of our past lives, but in the future,'" Khedrup continued, fighting back tears, "'but in the future, maybe we aren't going to have this relationship. Why? Because we are all impermanent, we all will die. Dad, be strong. Please think about the Tibetan cause as much as you can,' he said. This conversation gave me a great feeling, as my own child was giving me lessons. I told him, you are so good, and if you want to study, I support you. I am not just praising him after his death."
He continued, "We are all impermanent. We shouldn't chase after wealth; wealth will not help. When Tibet lost its freedom, it is said that we had wealth. But that didn't help, did it? Most importantly, we need education, as well as courage. In his last testament he [Choeying] strongly raised the importance of Tibetan language and in his writing he penned: "If we Tibetans don't keep the culture of Tibet, who will keep it? If Tibetans don't keep the Tibetan language, who will keep it? If Tibetan people don't fight for the struggle of Tibet, who will fight for it? Likewise, if children don't repay their parents for their graciousness, who will do it?" Khedrup said, adding: "Even as just an uneducated person, a child with these kind of thoughts made me feel this deeply.
"In terms of his last words, he had said, 'Maybe I will not come home next year,' he had said. When I asked where he would go if he didn't come home, he said, 'we never know about the impermanence of death. I might go before you.' When I asked he came to feel like this, he responded by saying, 'I wasn't very happy when my father said I had to go to the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi and study Tibetan language, because my classmates were saying we must learn English now and go to a foreign country. Many say that with Tibetan language, we cannot get a good job, so I had a strong desire to learn English.'
"'But after my father and uncle took me to school in Varanasi, there was a growing sense of peace in my heart, and I understood a new sense of patriotism for Tibet. There are a few new arrivals from Tibet at the university, and I occasionally tear up whenever I hear stories of their difficulties in Tibet,' he told me," said Khedup, adding, "Thinking about it, as a human being I feel that he fulfilled a purpose."
"To the people of Tibet in general, and particularly to the Tibetan youth, I do want to urge you all: we all have full responsibility to the freedom struggle of Tibet, whether those who born today or those who will die tomorrow. In the future, please do not waste your precious life by self-immolating. For the sake of the Tibetan freedom struggle, please further expand the Tibetan cause worldwide. The population of Tibet is only 6 million, and it's a big sorrow for anyone, losing more than 150 Tibetans in the self-immolation protest. Instead, We need a strategy to educate one Tibetan who can educate one hundred more. Without education, I think the freedom struggle of Tibet cannot succeed. We must educated ourselves to fight with China, but knives and guns are not our weapons against China. We must fight through nonviolent means, while focusing internationally and proving that truth is on our side."
Hundreds of Tibetans and supporters gathered to pay their homage to the deceased Tibetan student who self immolated for the Tibetan cause, at his funeral procession in Dharamshala. Following the commemoration and prayers Lhagyal Ri on July 26, 2017, the funeral procession towards the cremation ground situated about a half kilometer, was attended by his bereaved family members and the grieving crowd.