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Sikyong-Tibet-Vimala-Association-2017Dharamshala — Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay today inaugurated 'Druzin Gatsel' a new Tibetan residential building for former Tibetan political prisoners at MecLeod Ganj, Dharamshala on 22 February 2017.

Other top officials including Kalon Sonam Topgyal Khorlatsang, along with Secretaries of various departments attended the inaugural ceremony of the new building. President of Vimala Association, Ms Mimmie and Ms Debbie were also present at the ceremony. Vimala Association is the co-sponsor of the project.

The Druzin Gatsel residential building is a project executed by the Department of Home, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) with support from Vimala Association, Italy to provide permanent housing facilities for former Tibetan political prisoners. "The building consists of 16 apartments and is built with a total project cost of 176 lakh INR," according to the CTA.

Speaking on the occasion, Sikyong spoke about the Central Tibetan Administration's commitment to look after the welfare of newly arrived Tibetans, especially the former political prisoners. "As it is In keeping with His Holiness the Dalai Lama's vision and advice, the Central Tibetan Administration feels utmost responsibility to look after the welfare of the newly arrived Tibetans from Tibet.

"As His Holiness had repeatedly mentioned, the Tibetans inside Tibet are the rightful owners of Tibet. Especially the political activists, inside Tibet and those who escaped to exile, have sacrificed their own welfare to fight the repressive system in Tibet. Therefore, we are doing our best to cater to their needs and support them as family members," Sikyong expressed.

Sikyong also mentioned that under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, CTA and the aegis of Australian government, hundreds of former Tibetan political prisoners have been rehabilitated in settlements in Australia. "However since the selection is based on lottery system, there are few who continue to remain in India. Therefore, the Kashag had initiated this project to provide permanent housing facility for those who remain in India. We are very pleased that our project has come to fruition," Sikyong added.

“A great idea of having the chance to give to these people who suffered so much, live their remaining part of life with peace. I am very happy, and the concept wherein we succeeded in making the life easier of at least these people fills our hearts,” said Mimmi Guglielhone said, President of Vimala Association.

“We are here to inaugurate the residence for former political prisoners. We have built the residence for them and we are glad that those who have sacrificed so much in Tibet have a place to stay,” Dr Sangay said, while speaking to the media.

Secretary Chemi Rigzin of Department of Home introduced the background on the Druzin Gatsel project. According to the Secretary, the project was started in the October 2014. In accordance with Kashag's guidelines for use of the apartments and selection of the eligible individuals, the Department of Security had selected 11 eligible individuals from a total of 30 applications. Out of 16 apartments in the building, 11 were distributed to former Tibetan political prisoners. Remaining five apartments were handed to staff of Tibetan Settlement Office as staff quarters.

The secretary further mentioned that the building was built on a strong foundation to enable future expansion. The Vimala Association had contributed 126 lakh INR to the project and the rest was contributed by the CTA.