President Dr Lobsang Sangay addressing the gathering on Second Five Fifty Youth Forum, in Dharamshala, India, August 16, 2019. Photo: TPI/Yangchen Dolma

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Dharamshala, India — The President of the Tibetan-government-in-exile, Dr Lobsang Sangay said that the Central Tibetan Administration’s goal is to realise the Five Fifty Vision through a policy of dialogue, nonviolence supported by the Middle Way Approach when dealing with China, to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet. He also said that five outstanding leaders will be elected amongst the participants to be the representatives of youth.

Over 100 Tibetan youths from across the globe have gathered in Dharamshala, India, to express their concerns, share their ideas, and discuss challenges and opportunities concerning the future of Tibet and its freedom struggle.

President of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) attended the inaugural ceremony for the three-day forum with officials from the executive, legislative, and judiciary pillars of the CTA held in Dharamshala, India August 16, 2019. The ceremony began with the lighting of butter lamp by President and Chief Justice Commissioner followed by the welcome remarks by Sonam Norbu Dagpo DIIR Secretary.

“Kashag then came up with Five Fifty Vision which was originally inspired from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advice to ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst, which aims towards restoration of freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness to Tibet”, President Dr Sangay said while addressing the inaugural session of the forum.

President explained about the inception of the Five Fifty Vision of CTA which he said was formed after much discussion and debate within the members of Kashag following His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s devolvement of his political role in 2011. He explained that through Five Fifty Vision, CTA’s goal is to realise this vision through a policy of dialogue, nonviolence supported by the Middle Way Approach when dealing with China.

Resolving the issues of Tibet’s political future within the next five years, sustaining and strengthening the resilience of the Tibetan people both inside and outside Tibet including preserving and promoting Tibetan culture and identity for the next 50 years if needs be has been the core mantra of CTA’s Five Fifty Vision.

The youth forum, therefore, becomes one of the mechanisms for achieving the Five Fifty Vision mainly focusing on nurturing and empowering the leaders of tomorrow. President lauded the participants for their active interest in this ambitious yet achievable vision of CTA. One of the most important considerations during this forum, President Sangay announced that 5 outstanding leaders will be elected amongst the participants to be the representatives of youth.

Speaking as the chief guest, Pema Jungney, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in-Exile highlighted about the crucial responsibilities of Tibetan youth in the nation-building as he reiterated that they are in the possession of the power to change the destiny of Tibet. “In order to build a nation, you must be well acquainted with the past history of the nation”, said Speaker Pema Jungney.

While congratulating the participants and expressing his good wishes, the Speaker reminded the gathering about the significant contributions made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the elder generation alike in retaining the Tibet movement which he affirmed will never cease to exist or be extinguished as he acknowledged their effort and struggle.

The Five-Fifty Youth Forum is envisaged by Dr Lobsang Sangay President of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Around 100 participants from 13 countries attended the 2nd forum, under the theme "Young voices in the Tibetan Freedom Movement: Communications, Advocacy, and International Relations" to discuss and voice their opinions to advance the cause of Tibet. This year's forum was held for three days from 17-19 August, hosted by the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the CTA.

The forum convened with the third plenary session at Hotel Devdar resort near Norbulingka Institute at Sidhpur, Dharamshala, India. It was presided by President Dr Lobsang Sangay, CTA’s Chief Resilience Officer Kaydor Aukatsang, Chief Planning Commission Kunchok Tsundue, and the secretaries of Department of Information and Internation Relations(DIIR).

The event kicked off with a panel discussion on the first and foremost theme: Tibet and People’s Republic of China: Establishing Constructive engagement and negotiations. The panelists engaged in the discussion about the relation between China and Tibet till date and its future prospects.

Thinlay Chukki from DIIR UN, EU, and Human Rights Desk elaborated on the relation of Tibet and China by speaking on the topic ‘Legal status of Tibet in the international law’. In her statement in proving that Tibet was never part of China, she reiterated, “On the eve of Chinese “act” against Tibet in 1949/50, Tibet fulfilled all the requirement of a “state” under the international law and therefore the act against Tibet was not an internal domestic matter of China."

"It was an act of aggression against another sovereign state, an illegal invasion violating international laws prevalent then including the UN Charter which is built on the principle of “territorial integrity which China so blatantly violated then and now wants the world to respect. Tibet was historically an independent country and that is a fact and no amount of Chinese propaganda can change it,” she added.

Kalsang Tsering, Task Force Secretariat of Kashag introduced the participants to the processes of dialogues between the Chinese delegation and Tibetan delegation which first took place in the year 1979. He further spoke about the Tibetan delegation visitation program and the annual task force meeting.

Ngawang Tsegyam, Secretary to Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama highlighted the relationship between China and Tibet historically. He spoke on the benefits and fruitfulness of the Middle Way Policy and the policy which is gaining wider support of the Chinese scholars, educators, lawyers and Human rights activists. As the Keynote speaker of the first Panel, he further solicited the support for dialogue between Tibet and China as shown by many high-level dignitaries of China. Tsegyam also spoke of the importance of keeping relation with China in two ways: Relation with Chinese authority; and relation with the Chinese people.

The second Panel Discussion was on the theme: ‘Inclusion of and responsiveness to Tibetans inside Tibet and Diaspora’. Panelist Tashi Lamsang, Former General Secretary of Tibetan Youth Congress spoke about the history of Tibet including the military power of Tibet in the early times and the subsequent influence that China has brought out on the language and culture of Tibet. Second Panelist Tenzin Choeyang, Research, and Media officer, Tibetan Women’s association spoke about the Tibetan Women’s role in the inclusion of and responsiveness to Tibetans inside Tibet and Diaspora. She has narrated case studies of many Tibetan women who were a huge part in the freedom struggle back in Tibet and in the diaspora. Third Panelist Jamyang Phuntsok shared his experiences and suggestions regarding the theme.

Ven Kanyag Tsering, Tibet news coordinator at the Kirti Monastery in Dharamsala informed about the critical human right situation in Tibet and shared various information related to the same. The panel discussion once again ended with questions and doubts raised by the participants and clarification and answers provided by the panelists.

Kunchok Dolma Yaklha spoke about Tibet advocacy in the UN and shared her experiences regarding how China blatantly cut out the voices raised against them. She shared the incidents where Chinese delegation interrupted her speaking on Tibet issues at various platforms. She further notified the participants about the role of the Central Tibetan Administration(CTA) and the status it holds. She called CTA the pivotal and the head for the Tibetan movement since the institution is the continuation of government back in Tibet. Finally, she advised the Tibetan youth to preserve identity and dignity and carry the movement forward.

Dr Tenzin Dorjee talked about the importance of communication and keeping a good relation. He spoke broadly on the advocacy and International Relation. He said since the world is globalised, so one must need to be interdependent as specified in the text of Buddhism thus he advised to connect globally and advocate the freedom struggle. He further highlighted the importance of transparency, integrity, and preservation of identity and urged the youth to work for the Tibetan struggle especially because they are now in a free country.

The fourth and the final panel discussion was held on the theme: ‘CTA’s Leadership Towards the Five-Fifty Vision- Creating Visionary Leadership and Resource Mobilization’. The panelists were Phurbu Thinley, Principal, SOS Hermann Gmeiner School Pokhara, Shenphen Ringapontsang, Founder AMA- Australia, Yeshi Dawa, PhD Candidate, Amity University- Noida, Kelsang Dolma, Special Assistant, Office of Tibet, Washington D.C, Kalden Choephel, Founder Director, Exile Creations, Pema Gyalpo, Founder, Oshi Shenphen Tsokchung and Nyima Gyaltsen, Winner of TED Investment Award- 2017.

This forum comprises four themes, including Legal status of Tibet in the international law, Inclusion of and responsiveness to Tibetans inside Tibet and Diaspora, Young voices in the Tibetan Freedom Movement: communications, Advocacy and International Relations, and CTA’s Leadership Towards the Five-Fifty Vision- Creating Visionary Leadership, and Resource Mobilization. All the aforementioned panelists spoke on their individual experiences with regard to creating visionary leadership and resource mobilisation. According to the organiser, the participants enthusiastically participated in all the plenary sessions and expressed satisfaction and understanding of all the information provided by the respective panelists of different themes.

Attended by 100 young Tibetans in the diaspora who are excelled in many areas of study, this year's meeting was concluded on Monday by discussing CTA’s Five Fifty Vision, particularly on the challenges and opportunities facing the Tibetan freedom movement.

DIIR Secretary Sonam Norbu Dagpo of lauded the participants for the perseverance and resilience they displayed throughout the forum, saying, “Your presence here speaks volume of your dedication and patriotism towards the cause of Tibet”. He strongly urged the younger generation Tibetans to be well acquainted with the past history of Tibet as he called them the pioneers in shaping Tibet’s future.

“The past history of Tibet reveals that Tibet was an independent nation but this fact has been misconstrued and fabricated by China’s narrative of Tibet,” said the DIIR Secretary. While apprising them of the initiatives taken and being taken by CTA and urged them to contribute in the process, he also urged them to devise strategies to confront and condemn such misinterpretations that China blatantly makes. He concluded by saying: “Don’t ask what CTA can do for you. Ask yourself what you can do for CTA and the cause of Tibet”.

President Dr Sangay in his concluding remarks said the forum has been established particularly for the younger Tibetans to examine what political role they want to contribute towards the cause of Tibet and he also extolled that the initiative proved to be successful one much to CTA’s aspiration. While urging them to expand the suggestions and recommendations in the next year forum, the President also comforted them to face the challenges of criticisms positively and grow from the experience.

“Tibetans inside Tibet are still facing unprecedented oppression but they have not lost hope. They are united and determined in their pursuit which has kept them strong so we must inculcate the same in the exile” President Dr Sangay added. He further noted that the younger generation of Tibetans, in particular, have more and bigger challenges but he also reminded them that they are also blessed with an abundance of opportunities and thus urged them to make the best use of the favorable time and not get disheartened and discouraged by potential criticisms from strangers.

The 1st forum was held in 2018 in Dharamshala, India under the theme "Tibet and PRC: Importance of Historical ties and establishing constructive engagements and negotiations," attended by over 185 participants from 21 countries.

According to the CTA official media, the most important themes to remember are the following:

The subtopics of the Five-Fifty Forum: Shaping Tibet’s Political Future were; Theme 1: Tibet and PRC: Establishing Constructive; Engagement and Negotiations, Theme 2: Tibet’s Core Relationship with India and Asia, Theme 3: International Relations, Communications, and Advocacy, and Theme 4: CTA’s Leadership Toward the Five-Fifty Vision.

The subtopics of the Forum on Resiliency were; Theme 1: Sustaining Tibetan Culture, Theme 2: Sustaining Tibetan Education Theme 3: Towards a Healthier Tibetan Community and Theme 4: Economic Development of Tibetan Community.

The subtopics of the Youth Forum were; Theme 1: Tibet and PRC: Importance of Historical ties and establishing constructive engagements and negotiations, Theme 2: Young voices in the Tibetan Freedom Movement: Communications, Advocacy and International Relations, Theme 3: Inclusion of and responses to Tibetans inside Tibet and Diaspora and Theme 4: CTA’s Leadership towards the Five-Fifty Vision – creating visionary leadership, and resource mobilization.