Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, MAY 23: More than a hundred Tibetan activists, students and community leaders from India, Nepal, United States of America and Europe have converged in the virtual Tibetan capital Dharamshala for the fifth International Rangzen Conference.
Sri Ajay Singh Mankotia, an old friend of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, attended the event as the Chief Guest.
Prominent Rangzen activists and supporters like Jamyang Norbu, Lhasang Tsering – both former executives of the largest pro independence group the Tibetan Youth Congress – Tibetan writer Tenzin Tsundue, veteran Indian journalist Vijay Kranti, among others were present at the modest opening earlier this morning at the Dharamshala Municipal Corporation’s Town Hall. However, there were no members of the Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest pro independence group of the Tibetan Diaspora, officially participating in the meeting.
The guests, including a few members of the Tibetan parliament, took turn to pay their respects to the portrait of the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama before the start of the inaugural function. A minute’s silence was observed to remember the Tibetan martyrs and the Tibetan self-immolators who perished till date.
The three-day meeting is expected to review the Tibetan freedom movement and discuss issues ranging from the ongoing crisis in Tibet to finding creative and practical steps in the freedom movement.
Tenzin Tsundue thanked the participants who, according to him, had spent their own money to participate in the meeting, unlike many other such meetings and workshops here.
Former TYC executive and speaker of the Tibetan parliament late Karma Choephel was posthumously honored with an award which was received by his wife.
The official position of the Tibetan exile government (officially known as the Central Tibetan Administration) is the Middle Way Approach, to seek genuine autonomy within the People’s Republic of China.
In various exile communities, especially in New York city, there were confrontations in the past between Tibetans supporting the two different stands for future Tibet. In India, there have been cases of organizations, monasteries and institutes cutting off ties with bodies and individuals supporting Rangzen as there is a general belief that they disagree with the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, the proponent of the MWA. The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, came under criticism from within the community for renting their space out for a similar meeting in the past. However, the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has repeatedly made clear in the past that differences of opinion regarding future of Tibet was but natural and that Rangzen supporters have every right to hold on to their belief.
Former Kalon Tripa Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, on September 5, 2013, said, "The general view that those who do not support the Middle Way approach (Umey Lam) are against His Holiness the Dalai Lama is wrong. The MWA, no doubt, was proposed by His Holiness but it was through all the required democratic processes that it became the official policy with the eventual approval from the Tibetan parliament."