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09thaugust2011kalontripaDharamshala: - On August 9, a public felicitation ceremony took place for Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the new leader of the Central Tibetan Administration. The ceremony, which included addresses from Indian and foreign dignitaries, took place in the main temple in the Himalayan town of McLeod Ganj.

The ceremony began with the hoisting of the Tibetan national flag by Kalon Tripa Sangay and an offering of sweets to the guests and the public. After the speeches, greeting scarves (Tib: Khatags) were presented to Kalon Tripa by representatives of monasteries and NGOS. The ceremony concluded with cultural music and dance performances from local students.

Speakers included Ms. Chen Chieh-Ju from the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan, Mr. Seishu Makino from the Democratic Party of Japan, Mr. Batjargal Batbayar, a Member of Parliament from Mongolia, Mr. Gautam, a Member of the Constituent Assembly in Nepal, Dr. N.K. Trikha, the National Convener of the Core Group for Tibet Cause in India, Ms. Eva Lichtenberger, a Member of the European Parliament from Belgium, Dr. Yang Jianli, the President for Initiatives for China-USA, Mr. Matteo Mecacci, a Member of Parliament from Itlay, and Mr. Siegfried Herzog, the Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

The representatives expressed strong support for Tibet and for the new Kalon Tripa, showing their solidarity with the Tibetan struggle and calling for autonomy and the return of human rights in Tibet.

09thaugust2011kalontripa1Dr. Yang Jianli, a Tibet supporter and democracy advocate from China currently based in US, received especially strong enthusiasm from the audience. He expressed his congratulations to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his "extraordinary leadership, wisdom, and determination," and the "righteous way" he initiated democracy for the Tibetan people. He also commended Dr. Lobsang Sangay for his commitment to serving the Tibetan people.

He characterized the Chinese government as "the greedy dictators in Beijing" and said that Tibet's achievements in democracy served as a "beacon of hope" to many, including Han Chinese such as himself.

Expressing his support for the Middle Way Approach, the policy that calls for Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule, he said it was the Tibetan people's "good fortune to have His Holiness as your spiritual leader and Dr. Lobsang Sangay as your political leader."

Jianli said that the issue of Tibet is not limited to Tibet and China, but that it is a moral issue that affects all of humanity. He praised the Tibetan exile community for being stable and harmonious, and expressed confidence that one day Tibet would also be harmonious under democracy and autonomy.

09thaugust2011kalontripa3"Continue to fight the good fight," he advised. "Liberation will one day take place in Lhasa."

Mr. Matteo Macacci, President of the Tibet Group in the Italian Parliament, also spoke about the importance of democracy.

Macacci said that democracy is advancing around in the world. Citing examples such as the recent revolution in Egypt, he said that even in countries that appear stable, people are rising up and calling for change. He expressed admiration for the non-violent approach of the Tibetan Administration and the tradition of "compassion, love, and cooperation."

"China is powerful, but not stable," he said, saying that a society based on fear would not last long.

Calling today an important day in history and an example for the whole world, he expressed hope that one day there would be a "free Tibet and a free China."

09thaugust2011kalontripa2Dr. N.K. Trikha of the Core Group for the Tibet Cause in India also spoke very strongly in support of Tibetans and their new democratic paradigm. He said that what is happening to Tibetans and their culture is "absolutely unacceptable to every Indian" and called for the return of "honor and dignity" to the Tibetan people.

"I assure you that we Indians will do everything we can," he said to the new Kalon Tripa. "Tibet is in the hearts and minds of India."

European Parliament representative Ms. Eva Lichtenberger, from Belgium, emphasized the importance of continued international support and pressure for the Tibetan cause. She said that the European Parliament always brings up the issue of Tibet when there are Chinese guests present, and she said, "I assure you, there are thousands of people in Europe that follow and support Tibet."

09thaugust2011kalontripa4She spoke about the importance of the international community giving back to Tibet, saying that "Tibet gave such a large present to the world in the form of such a rich culture."

Concluding the ceremony, Kalon Tripa thanked the speakers for traveling to Dharamshala for the event. "You've covered a lot of distance, overcome jet lag, and experienced the height of the monsoon in Dharamshala, which has the second highest rainfall in India," he said. "I'm really grateful."

He expressed his own admiration and gratefulness for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his political leadership over the past 60 years, as well as his hope that he can live up to His Holiness' expectations in providing leadership to the Tibetan people.

Kalon Tripa drew on uprisings around the world, such as in Lybia and Syria where unpopular leaders resist giving up power, to make a point about His Holiness' voluntary devolution of political power.

"We have a leader who willingly, despite resistance from the people, despite objection, reservation, and anxiousness, which includes me, from the people, who is willing to forgo the political power because he believes it's time," he said.

09thaugust2011kalontripa12He also made a point about key differences between Tibetan politics and politics around the world. Unlike elections elsewhere, Tibetan political candidates are friends during the election and remain friends afterward. Using an example from his own campaign, he spoke about the time when, during the final election, he and a competitor shared a taxi ride from Dharamshala to Delhi, a hotel room, and breakfast and lunch the next day.

"We have Buddhist principles to follow," he said. "Hopefully some of you members of Parliament will take a lesson from us," he said, laughing.

Kalon Tripa emphasized that the Tibetan Administration has established a true foundation for democracy, and expressed hope that other diaspora and exile communities can follow their model.

In closing, he said that he appreciated that "we have friends all around the world who voluntarily provide help and support. That kind of support is genuine. The genuineness of your friendship is greatly appreciated by all the staff members of the Tibetan Administration."

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