Dharamshala: - Kasur Lodi G. Gyari, who was one of Tibetan Youth Congress' (TYC) four founders, massively understates the situation when he notes, "TYC was not founded overnight." The organization, forged to unite Tibetans amidst the turmoil they face, originated in His Holiness the Dalai Lama's desire to maintain momentum in the struggle for the Tibetan cause. Over 50 years later, TYC remains a formidable force in the pro-Tibet community.
The four founding members were Kasur Tenzin Geyche Tethong, Kalon Trisur Sonam Topgyal Dzachutsang, Kalon Trisur Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, and Gyari. They assembled with Tibetan leaders and spiritual masters on 3 February 1960 to pledge the Oath of Allegiance "Na-gan Thuwoche." This represented their commitment to "eschew parochialism and sectarianism and personal differences," as well as their vow "to unite and stand together solid like an iron ball."
History, along with the monolithic homogeneity the Chinese sought to force upon the Tibetans, allowed these leaders to recognize that ideal unity did not necessitate abandonment of all differences. Rather, "Respecting and recognizing everyone equally is the most important condition that will sustain the unity of the Tibetans as one people."
Clarifying why Tibetan Independent movement was included in the aims and objective of the organisation, Lodi Gyari said: "Some people believe that the movement of TYC was launched solely to advocate the stance of independence. This view does not confirm to reality. When TYC movement was started, there was no division between people supporting independence and autonomy. The Middle Way Approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama was made public much later."
Specific to TYC, the organization sought to reach out to younger members of the community, that they might uphold feelings of Tibetan camaraderie over any regional, religious, or socioeconomic differences. TYC includes a Tibetan map in both its logo and its flag, "deliberately chosen to symbolize and support the (nation's) historical transformation, and to be a reminder of the oath of unwavering unity."
The established aims and objectives of the organization are as follows:
1) To dedicate oneself to the task of serving one's country and people under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Spiritual and Temporal Ruler of Tibet.
2) To promote and protect national unity and integrity by giving up all distinctions based on religion, regionalism, or status.
3) To work for the preservation and promotion of religion and Tibet's unique culture and traditions.
4) To struggle for the total independence of Tibet even at the cost of one's life.
"These days there is great debate regarding the position of the TYC." He continues that: "Basically, 'till (sic) now there is no change in TYC's stand on independence from 17 September 1988." After His Holiness the Dalai Lama presented the Strasbourg proposal, TYC passed a resolution stating, "Fundamentally there is no change in the TYC's stand on independence, but on the ultimate decision of the Tibetan issue, (it) will follow the guidance and leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama".
"Tibetans in exile remain engaged in extensive discussion to promote unity among all the Tibetans, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, almost in all his speeches during that period, has strongly emphasized all Tibetans to remain united, by leaving aside regionalism and religious differences, as that is the need of the hour," he added.
"Therefore, we the younger generation felt it necessary to launch the TYC movement to inculcate the unity among Tibetans so that the present and the coming generations do not carry the baggage of historical differences," he said in the statement. "The primary aim of the TYC was to promote and protect national unity and integrity by giving up all distinctions based on religion, regionalism or status. Upholding this basic objective, TYC has continuously and successfully served since its inception," he continued.
Of course, His Holiness supports the Middle Way Approach. Lodi Gyari notes, "I am a supporter of the Middle Way Approach and this is not based on blind faith. I have done thorough research and learned from my own experience how the world thinks and particularly the long-term benefits for all the Tibetan people." In response to those who worry that Tibetan independence has been compromised, he argues, "What has been cut? What has been sold? The situation has been cut and sold from way back." Moving forward, he views the Middle Way Approach as the best way to seek genuine autonomy and thus preserve Tibetan identity.
However, he once again echoes his desire for unity by cautioning, "I am not criticizing those who advocate independence. Most of them are dedicated and equally working for the common cause."
Although TYC seeks to do all it can to further the cause, Lodi Gyari believes, "Achievement of the long-term dream of unity of Tibetan people geographically and emotionally primarily rests with the brothers and sisters back in Tibet." For its part, TYC will continue to strive to unite Tibetans under an umbrella of allegiance and democratic struggle on behalf of the Tibetan identity.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and does not necessarily reflects the editorial policy of The Tibet Post International.