Speaking at a press conference at the main Tibetan temple in Dharamsala, north India, His Holiness said, "Actually, I also come from that area. So naturally very sad. The people, their living standards low, and education also quite backward. And then, last 50, 60 years, constant problems. The fear become their way of life. On top of that, this major disaster happened. So very, very sad."
He continued that he appreciated the help given by monks and lay people from neighbouring areas, and also by the Chinese central and local governments, including Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who visited Kyigudo.
"I personally feel the construction of new schools and hospitals are items of most importance," he said. "Whether it comes from individual friends or NGOs in the outside world, help inside Tibet is always very much appreciated, and it should concentrate on education and health."
He concluded that he feels an emotional attachment to Kyigudo, because both he and the late Panchen Lama were born there, and that he would lke to visit the area to pray for the earthquake's casualties and offer his condolences to the survivors.
The full text of the press release issued by His Holiness' private office is printed below:
As I mentioned briefly soon after I heard the news, I was deeply saddened by the effects of the devastating earthquake in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Tibetan: Kyigudo) of Qinghai Province which resulted in the tragic loss of many lives, a great number of injured and sever loss of property. Because of the physical distance between us, at present I am unable to comfort those directly affected, but I would like them to know I am praying for them.
I commend the monastic community, young people and many other individuals from nearby areas for their good neighborly support and assistance to the families of those who have lost everything. May your exemplary compassion continue to grow. This kind of voluntary work in the service of others really puts the bodhisattva aspiration into practice.
I also applaud the Chinese authorities for visiting the affected areas, especially Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who has not only personally offered comfort to the affected communities, but has also overseen the relief work. I am very appreciative too that the media have been free to report on the tragedy and its aftermath.
In 2008, when a similar earthquake struck Sichuan, Chinese central and local government leaders and auxiliary authorities took great pains to provide relief, allow free access to the media, as we as clearing the way for international relief agencies to provide assistance as required. I applauded these positive moves then and appeal for such ease of access on this occasion too.
The Tibetan community in exile would like to offer whatever support and assistance it can towards the relief work. We hope to be able to do this through the proper and appropriate channels ass soon as possible.
When Sichuan was rocked by an earthquake two years ago, I wished to visit the affected areas to pray and comfort the people there, but I was unable to do so. However, when Taiwan was struck by a typhoon last year, I was able to visit the affected families and pray with them for those who bad perished in that disaster. In providing some solace to the people concerned, I was happy to be able to do something useful.
This time the location of the earthquake, Kyigudo (Chinese: Yushu), lies in Qinghai Province, which happens to be where both the late Panchen Lama and I were born. To fulfill the wishes of many of the people there, I am eager to go there myself to offer them comfort.
In conclusion, I appeal to governments, international aid organizations and other agencies to extend whatever assistance they can to enable the families of those devastated by this tragedy to rebuild their lives. At the same time, I also call on the survivors of this catastrophe to recognize what has happened as the working of karma and to transform this adversity into something positive, keeping their hopes up and meeting setbacks with courage as they struggle to restore what they have lost. Once again, I pray for those who have lost their lives as well as for the well being of those who have survived.
17 April 2010