Dharamshala, March 10: To mark the 55th Tibetan National Uprising Day Dr Lobsang Sangay, Tibetan Government in Exile’s Sikyong, has described the profound effect that His Holiness struggle to leave Tibet and seek refuge in India 55 years ago has had on him even to this day.
Dr Sangay described his recent trip to Tawang in Arunchal Pradesh where the Dalai Lama crossed over from his homeland to his exiled land, “There is no escape from the painful reality that many of the elders who were forced to make the journey into exile in 1959 have died without fulfilling their dreams of returning to their homeland. Similarly, innumerable Tibetans in Tibet have died without reuniting with family members or realizing their freedom. I take great solace, however, that their hopes and dreams live and grow in their children.”
The exiled political leadefr also went on to touch upon the unwavering protesting undertaken by generation after generation of Tibetans, “Demonstrations of resilience and resolve by Tibetans inside Tibet from the uprisings and resistance in Kham and Amdo in the 1950s, to the protests in Lhasa in the 1980s, to the nation-wide uprising in 2008 and the recent self-immolations reveal that the struggle for Tibet will not abate”
While including self-immolations in the protesting chronology of Tibetans inside Tibet Lobsang Sangay was quick to point out that changes that have occurred and why; “The Tibetan struggle today is led by a new generation of Tibetans inside Tibet and in exile. It is the younger generation of Tibetans in Tibet who clearly and loudly demand their identity, freedom and unity.”
He, however, did stay on the party line of appealing not to continue such a protest by stating, “since 2009, there have been 126 self-immolations all across Tibet. Despite repeated appeals not to engage in such drastic actions, the self-immolations have continued.”
His strongest statement made during this speech is as he looked towards the future of Tibetans and the Tibetan struggle. “My fellow Tibetans, we must bear in mind that the year 2020 will mark 70 years since the invasion of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China. By then, the generation of Tibetans with memories of a free Tibet will have greatly dwindled. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will turn 85 and by that year he will have led the Tibetan people for 70 uninterrupted years. The next generation of Tibetan leadership inside and outside Tibet has to cope with a crucial and challenging reality. Tibetans inside Tibet will have no personal memories of traditional Tibet, while Tibetans outside of Tibet will know only a life lived in exile. Exile Tibetans constitute only 2.5 percent of six million Tibetans but it is likely there will be equal number of Tibetans in the West and in India, Nepal and Bhutan.”
“As a long-term strategy, we need to build self-reliance in the Tibetan world, in thought and action. Our more than 50-year-old movement cannot depend solely on others to help us achieve our goals. It is time to assume individual responsibility and collective leadership and stand on our own feet. We need to build our individual and collective strengths. We need to reflect deeply”, he added.
With the Western influences clear to see in Dharamsala and in other Tibetan refugee settlements, Lobsang Sangay strongly encourages Tibetans to not forget about their culture and their identity; “It is crucial that younger Tibetans study the language and history of the nation. It is equally important that they record the stories and narratives of individual families and ancestral land. Continue to enjoy momos in Tibetan restaurants and wear chubas in celebration of the Tibetan culture, but for identity to take strong roots we must educate ourselves, engage deeply with Tibetans from Tibet, and reflect individually on the challenges that lie ahead.”
He concluded with a direct plea to each and every Tibetan, “Dear Tibetan brothers and sisters inside Tibet, our journey may be long and the challenges may appear daunting, but we will succeed. In Tawang, I saw the path His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our parents, and grandparents took from Tibet to India. From a distance, I could see the great mountains and rivers of Tibet. I took it as a good omen to begin 2014, that like you, I saw a path back to Tibet.”