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Dalai Lama turns 73 as Tibet issue lingers on
Phayul[Sunday, July 06, 2008 15:34]
By Phurbu Thinley

Tibetan PM Prof. Rinpoche accepts birthday presents from students of  local Indian schools for His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his 73rd birthday at Dharamsala, India, Sunday, July 6, 2008 (Photo by Tenzin Dasel / Phayul)
Tibetan PM Prof. Rinpoche accepts birthday presents from students of local Indian schools for His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his 73rd birthday at Dharamsala, India, Sunday, July 6, 2008 (Photo by Tenzin Dasel / Phayul)
Dharamsala, July 6: Tibetan exiles on Sunday celebrated the 73rd birthday of their revered leader His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, but with no customary song and dance performances.

Hundreds of Tibetans and visiting tourists packed the Tsuglag-khang (Main Tibetan Temple) courtyard to join the official function, attended by top officials of the Tibetan government-in-Exile, including Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman of the Tibetan Parliament Mr Karma Choephel and other senior officials of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Dalai Lama’s birthday celebration, which is otherwise a joyous moment for Tibetans, was kept moderate this year due to sad and worsening situation inside Tibet since the March unrest. Tibetan people here honoured their leader’s birthday by offering prayers and planting trees for his long life and continued wellbeing.

Some 200 people from the Trans Himalayan region of India bordering Tibet, including Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Uttranchal, Utrakhand, Lahaul Spiti, Kinour, Kullu, Manali, and Ladhak, also joined the celebration this morning. The members were led by prominent social and political leaders of the communities. According to a press statement by the Trans Himalayan Parliamentary forum, the members on Saturday had a private audience with the Dalai Lama to wish him “long life and to express solidarity with Holiness’ peaceful struggle for the Tibetan cause”. They also organized a candle light peace march for Tibet later in the evening to convey their continued support for the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom.

Ven. Tsona Rinpoche, member of legislative assembly and former minister of Arunachal Pradesh, addressing the gathering on Sunday. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel / Phayul.com)
Ven. Tsona Rinpoche, member of legislative assembly and former minister of Arunachal Pradesh, addressing the gathering on Sunday. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel / Phayul.com)
Speaking at today’s function on behalf of the people of Himalayan region, Ven Tsona Rinpoche, MLA and former Minister of Arunachal Pradesh urged Tibetan people to remain determined in their struggle for freedom and just cause, and assured that people of the Himalayan regions in India are always committed to be on their side.

“We share common language, culture and identity with Tibetan people. We are all followers of Dalai Lama. It is in our interest and for our own security to support and struggle for the cause of Tibetan people,” Ven Tsona told a huge public gathering.

The exiled Tibetan leader did not show up during the public function.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso was born Lhamo Dhondub to a peasant family in a small village called Takser in Amdo (Ch: Qinghai) Province, north-eastern Tibet on 6 July 1935.

In 1959, after an aborted uprising in Lhasa against the Communist Chinese regime, thousands of Tibetans followed the Dalai Lama into exile and re-established Tibetan Government in Exile in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala where he now resides.

From Dharamsala he travels extensively around the world and occasionally meets with world leaders to present the case of Tibet and, also to promote human values and religious harmony, describing them as three main commitments in his life.

Tibetan PM felicitates a Tibetan civil servant. The central Tibetan Administration on Sunday honoured a number of civil servants for their distinguished and long term public services to mark the 73rd birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Photo by Tenzin Dasel / Phayul).
Tibetan PM felicitates a Tibetan civil servant. The central Tibetan Administration on Sunday honoured a number of civil servants for their distinguished and long term public services to mark the 73rd birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Photo by Tenzin Dasel / Phayul).
Lately, the Dalai Lama has advocated a "middle way approach" calling for a “real and meaningful” autonomy for Tibet within the framework of Chinese Constitution and an end to what he has said are widespread human rights violations against his people.

Six rounds of talks between his envoys and the Beijing government since the direct contact between the two sides was re-established in year 2002, after it turned into a complete deadlock way back in 1994, did not make any significant breakthrough. In fact, the talks were briefly stalled after the sixth round of talks took place in Beijing last year.

The two sides agreed to meet again this year after widespread unrest in Tibet followed by China’s violent crackdown, which faced strong international diplomatic pressure calling on China to hold a result-orientated dialogue with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Following March crackdown on protests against Chinese rule in Tibet, the two sides, earlier in May, held an “informal meeting” mainly to discuss and ease the “critical situation in Tibet”. During the meet, the two sides agreed to continue their formal round of talks at a convenient time.

However, the latest formal talks, held from July 1-2 in Beijing, aimed to mend fences with the exiled Tibetan leader, were as usual marked by an aggressive reiteration of the Chinese government’s allegation that the Dalai Lama instigated the March unrest in Tibet. The talks made no headway on the status of Tibet as expected by the Tibetan leadership, forcing a senior Tibetan envoy to describe the outcome as “disappointing”.

But both sides have agreed to at least hold one more round of talks in October, after Beijing hosts the Olympics in August. Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy Mr Lodi Gyari told reporters here yesterday that the next talks would help measure China's level of commitment in resolving concerns over Tibet.

Addressing today’s function, the Tibetan Prime Minister Prof. Rinpoche outlined that the latest seventh round of talks last week did not make any progress as expected by his administration.

“It is disappointing that the seventh round of talks did not come out as per our expectation,” he said. “Our doubts over the Chinese leaders’ commitment and sincerity to resolve the issue of Tibet has further widened,” he added and called on the Chinese leadership to reciprocate the “positive efforts” made by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile by taking tangible steps.

He, however, described the decision “to hold eighth round of talks in October and to discuss the need to implement in Tibet the provisions of national regional autonomy as laid down in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China”, which he said were mutually agreed during the seventh round of talks, as a positive signal for the time being.

Young Tibetans have become increasingly restless and are skeptical that this kind of dialogue process with Chinese leadership will bring about any solid results.

The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his relentless non-violent movement for the peaceful resolution of Tibet's issue through dialogue with the Chinese leadership.

Although the Tibetan leader has repeatedly and publicly stated he is not seeking separation and independence of Tibet, China has not stopped vilifying him as a “separatist” seeking Tibet's independence.
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