Dharamshala, India — In a statement to mark the 30th anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the 71st International Human Right Day in Dharamshala, India, on Tuesday, President Dr Lobsang Sangay said: "Even in the face of persecution, His Holiness has led the world with examples through his undeterred efforts to resolve the issue of Tibet non-violently".
President of the Central Tibetan Administration previously known as the Government of Tibet, Dr Lobsang Sangay, honored and thanked His Holiness the Dalai Lama, recognized His Holiness’ use of nonviolent dialogue as a means towards peace, and reported Chinese abuses of Tibetan human rights.
He opened his address by acknowledging the original Peace Prize given to His Holiness “in recognition of His unwavering commitment to peacefully restore freedom for Tibetans in Tibet.” Representing the 15th Kashag of the CTA, he presented his reverence to His Holiness and his greetings to “the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, guests and dignitaries in attendance, and supporters of Tibet around the world.”
He reflected upon His Holiness’s continual effort to promote both compassion in human society and nonviolent approaches to solving conflict: “His Holiness has steadily undertaken the commitment to emphasize the importance of inculcating compassion, tolerance, and kindness to achieve peace and harmony among all human beings. While stressing the importance of religious harmony, He has advocated dialogue as a means to resolve any conflict. Even in the face of persecution, His Holiness has led the world with examples through his undeterred efforts to resolve the issue of Tibet non-violently.” He remarked that His Holiness’s pursuits of fostering a kinder world have returned as global support for the Tibetan cause.
He noted the concurrent 71st anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upon 10 December. He then proceeded to outline how such human rights for Tibetans are “trampled upon by the Chinese Communist Party” to this day. “Tibetans are subjected to harsh treatment for speaking up for their rights,” he reported, even though such rights “are also enshrined in the Chinese constitution, such as freedom of religion, language, and preservation of the environment.”
Still, he affirmed that Tibetans continue to protest. He highlighted the recent self-immolation by a 24-year-old man named Yonten in eastern Tibet on 26 November 2019. This marked one out of 154 Tibetan self-immolations since 2009, he noted, all which demand “freedom for Tibetans and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
In describing the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, he mentioned a 2018 document issued from the Chinese Public Security Bureau which made “local initiatives for environmental protection, language preservation, and any expression of support for the Middle Way Approach as an organized crime.” Too, he recalled harsh regulations imposed since 2008 upon “freedom of movement both within and outside of Tibet.” To President Sangay, these actions are clear evidence of the Chinese government choosing “drastic restriction instead of earnestly addressing the plights of the Tibetan people.”
Further, he listed several recent arrests and forced disappearances of Tibetan monks and activists. “Recently, Lobsang Dorje, a 36-year-old monk from Kirti Monastery, was sentenced to three years imprisonment after being held incommunicado in detention for more than a year on suspicion of communicating with the international community. In another case, Sonam Palden, a 22-year-old monk, was forcefully arrested from his room at the Kirti monastery for unknown reasons and has not been heard since. Earlier this month, six Tibetan monks from Shedrup Monastery in Sershul, Kham, were arrested for their protest against China’s rule over Tibet. Three days later, two Tibetan young men in their early twenties, Yonten and Choegyal, were arrested for their roles in a similar protest.”
The President reported that these repressive actions from the Chinese Communist Party have been surveyed by the United Nations Human Rights Council and institutions in the European Union and the United States. For example, he professed: “For the past consecutive years, the Freedom House report has placed Tibet after Syria as the second-least free country.”
He then discussed recent hearings on the whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama and his family. He noted that during the 119th meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance on 16-20 September 2019, China replied to questions about their location “with the usual practice of unverifiable and insufficient information.” He demanded that China “must release the Panchen Lama and his family together with Chadrel Rinpoche and all the other political prisoners.”
Next, he addressed the topic of the Tibetan people’s and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s authority to decide about the seat of the Dalai Lama and his reincarnation. He conveyed the statements following the 3rd Special General Meeting of Tibetans and the 14th Tibetan Religious Conference occurring in October and November 2019, respectively. Both affirmed the desire of the Tibetan people to keep the institution of the Dalai Lama. The conferences also declared that only His Holiness could decide about his reincarnation.
President Dr Sangay quoted United States officials backing these resolutions. US Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom, SamuelBrownback, stated his support for the Tibetan cause during a formal visit to the CTA headquarters in October 2019. He affirmed: “the United States government supports the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama, and that the role of picking a successor to the Dalai Lama belongs to the Tibetan Buddhist system, the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist leaders. It does not belong to anybody else, not any government or any entity.”
Wrapping up his address, the President recognized the great fruits of His Holiness’s labors after the past 60 years. These included “the successful establishment of the Tibetan community in exile, introduction of a democratic system of administration, revival of Tibetan language, religion and culture, provision of modern education to Tibetan children, and advancement of the Tibet cause in the global arena.”
Considering these efforts, he appointed 2020 as the “Thank You, Dalai Lama” year. He then urged the gathered Tibetans to work together for the common good throughout the year: “In observation of our gratitude to His Holiness, we must further indulge in meritorious acts for the accumulation of our collective good karma. We must all remember and work towards the fulfillment of His Holiness’ principal commitments and work towards our cause in unity. We will renew our efforts towards the same through various initiatives throughout the gratitude year.”
The President concluded his presentation by thanking India for its generosity and acknowledging all nations and peoples for advocating for Tibet’s freedom. He pleaded for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s continual wellbeing and finally proclaimed: “May all his holy wishes be fulfilled. May the non-violent cause of Tibet prevail.”