Washington DC – The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) awarded Bhuchung K Tsering the Truman-Regan Medal of Freedom for his lifelong commitment to freedom and democracy for the Tibetan people, and opposition to Chinese communism, at the 16th Annual Roll Call of Nations Wreath Laying Ceremony on June 9, 2023. The ceremony is held each year to honor the memory of the 100 million victims killed by communism.
The Truman-Regan Medal of Freedom has been awarded since 1999 to individuals who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to freedom and democracy, and who have opposed communism and all other forms of tyranny. Former recipients include Jesse Helms (2001), Vaclav Havel (2003) and US Senator Tom Lantos (2008).
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) awarded Bhuchung K Tsering the Truman-Regan Medal of Freedom for his lifelong commitment to freedom and democracy for the Tibetan people, and opposition to Chinese communism, at the 16th Annual Roll Call of Nations Wreath Laying Ceremony on June 9, 2023.
Ambassadors and representatives from 14 Embassies and over 50 organisations representing various movements took part in the wreath-laying ceremony in tribute to the heroes and victims of communism.
The Medal of Honor was presented by Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, former Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues in the administration of President W. Bush's administration. "On behalf of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, we thank you Bhuchung Tsering for your indominable courage, your visionary leadership of the ICT and your relentless drive for the people of Tibet," said Ms Dobriansky. “While China hides its subjugation of the Tibetan people and erasure of their culture, language, religion and history, heroes like Bhuchung ensure that the world cannot simply ignore the Chinese Communist Party’s crimes,” Dobriansky added.
Bhuchung K Tsering is a Tibetan American writer, diplomat and activist and currently serves as the head of research and monitoring Unit at the International Campaign for Tibet. He and his family left behind their home as they sought homage in India during the Chinese Communist invasion of 1950s. In January 1984 Tsering joined the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Dharamshala and has since been a tireless advocate for the Tibetan people around the world. Tsering is an ambassador of the Tibetan culture and a guiding light from the threat of the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression.
In his acceptance speech Bhuchung expressed his gratitude on being bestowed with this honour and said," the honor that you bestow on me today is really an acknowledgement of the strength of the Tibetan people and their struggle. I remain grateful."
Sharing his views on what keeps the Tibet issue alive for now over six decades despite the oppressive Chinese behaviour he said, “In Tibet, our Tibetan brothers and sisters are not in a situation to reveal their true thinking openly, but those of us outside of Tibet are contributing in our respective ways to the fulfilment of His Holiness’ vision”.
Bhuchung said, "It was during the time of President Harry S. Truman in the late 1940s that Communist China began its invasion of Tibet. In the initial decades of their occupation, the Chinese communists launched a policy of physical destruction of Tibet. This included killing of Tibetans considered enemies and destroying Tibetan religious and cultural centers."
"There certainly are Tibetan victims of Chinese Communism among the 100 million people who have suffered under Communism that was mentioned earlier. By your action today, you are honoring the memory of the 1.2 million Tibetans who, according to information compiled by the Tibetan leadership in Dharamsala, have died under Chinese occupation between 1949 and 1979. This figure includes at least 430,000 who were killed in the fighting in the 1950s and thereafter, 340,000 who starved to death, 56,000 who were executed, 90,000 who died in struggle sessions, 170,000 who died in prison, and at least 9,000 who ended up committing suicide," he added.
He also said,"During President Ronald Reagan’s term, in the 1980s, Tibetans in Tibet were able to show their resilience. During a short period then when Tibetans experienced a comparatively liberalized policy, they were able to reveal their continued devotion to their faith, culture and identity. A subsequent ruthless and far reaching Chinese Communist policy of control eventually becoming one of assimilation made such displays impossible. However, I have no doubt that the resilience of the Tibetans in Tibet will continue to be displayed in other ways."
The activist of Tibet said, "Today, you are also putting the spotlight on the 159 Tibetans who have committed self-immolations since 2009 to highlight the plight of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule. They made the highest sacrifice, namely giving their lives, even while ensuring that in the process no others were harmed."
Bhuchung said in his concluding speech,"The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation has been playing an important role in reminding the international community about communism and its misuse in different parts of the world. VOC’s consistent and continued focus on the plight of those who are being persecuted by Communist regimes and highlighting of them in the international community is a source of hope and encouragement to those communities."
He called on the international community to support and recognise the Tibetan movement, not out of sympathy, but in the interests of humanity, as Tibetan culture and philosophy have much to offer to the development of civilization. In his closing remarks, Bhuchung recited a prayer of dedication and concluded his acceptance speech with a strong message: "The Tibetan people have not lost hope despite more than six decades of Communist control; Tibet will not die because the human spirit never dies. Communism will not succeed because man will not be enslaved forever".