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CTA President, activists honoured for defending democracy and human rights by NED

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(L-R) Screen grab of Sikyong Penpa Tsering, Dr. Gyal Lo and Lhadon Tethong receiving the 2024 Democracy Service Medal and Democracry Award at the annual event of NED on June 13, 2024

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, June 14: The democratically elected President of the Tibetan government in exile Penpa Tsering, renowned activist Lhadon Tethong, and educational sociologist Dr. Gyal Lo were honoured with the Democracy Service Medal and Democracy Award respectively, by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a U.S. government-funded organisation. The awards were presented on Thursday at NED’s annual event, recognising their unwavering commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Upon receiving the Democracy Award in the category of “Documenting Repression: Chinese Communist Party Attempts to Erase Tibetan Identity,” Lhadon Tethong, representing Dr. Gyal Lo and the entire staff of the Tibet Action Institute (TAI), expressed deep gratitude to the esteemed board and staff of NED. She remarked, “We accept this award as a recognition of the heroic resistance that generation after generation of Tibetans, under the leadership of His Holiness the great 14th Dalai Lama, has waged against China’s illegal occupation of our homeland.”

The political activist, in her speech, also highlighted the mass system of China’s colonial boarding across Tibet, stating, “When we say, at least one million children are now separated from their parents and made to stay in a genocidal boarding school system, we are speaking of 80% of all Tibetan school-aged children from as young as the age of four. I have a four-year-old twin, and many of you have children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, we can imagine how unbearable it must be to send such tiny little ones to live apart from the care and protection of their families. Dr, Gyal Lo does not have to imagine. An educational sociologist from Tibet who escaped to Canada in 2021, his own nieces were sent away to boarding pre-school in 2015. He witnessed them turning into strangers in their own home, alienation by design. It is one of the most insidious colonial strategies and it is a clear escalation by China and Tibet as they target every pillar of Tibetan identity for elimination.” 

She also urged world leaders to stand more directly, clearly, and boldly with Tibetans, Uyghurs, Southern Mongolians, Hong Kongers, and the Chinese citizens who protested during the Tiananmen Square and White Paper movements. She emphasised the importance of supporting these groups to strengthen their confidence and help them succeed in their ongoing struggle for democracy, human rights, and freedom.

President Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was awarded the 2024 Democracy Service Medal in recognition of his efforts to counter Chinese influence and mobilize Tibet’s allies to speak out against the suppression of cultural identity within Tibet. Accepting the award on behalf of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, Tsering emphasised that the international community should refrain from repeating the statement that “Tibet is a part of the PRC” as it goes against international law. He stated, “I also tell countries that, on the one hand, they say Tibet is a part of the PRC, and on the other hand, they say, we support negotiations between the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government. This removes the very ground for negotiation. When every country admits that Tibet is a part of the PRC, then where is the reason for China to come and talk to us?”

He also urged countries to not view Tibet solely as a victim of communism but to hold China accountable for its actions. He stated, “China is a threat not only to the nationalists within China but to the whole world. They are not only imposing repression inside Tibet, but they also aim to export their system of governance under the guise of the Global Security Initiative, Global Economic Initiative, and Global Civilisation Initiative. These pose real dangers and threats to the free world, and we all need to make China accountable.”

Also among the 2024 Democracy Service Medal recipients was Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, a long-time supporter of Tibet and a close friend of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

One Response

  1. Please accept my hearty congratulations to Sekyong Penpa Tsering who has been doing an excellent job as Sekyong under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in serving the Tibetan people. NED’s 2024 Democracy Service Medal is a clear recognition of Sekyong Penpa Tsering’s service to the people of Tibet. I wish him every success in his future endeavors for the service of the Tibetan people.

    I also take this opportunity to congratulate the speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, who has been a staunch supporter of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for being awarded the 2024 Democracy Service Medal. You are an inspiration! We, the Tibetans, appreciate your unwavering support for Tibet and willing to speak out on behalf of the suffering Tibetans in Tibet.

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