Dharamsala, May 19: The Oslo Freedom Forum, a gathering that brings together some of the world's leading minds to honour survivors of political oppression and persecution, was opened yesterday evening by its patron and human rights advocate, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.
Gesturing towards invited speaker, Palden Gyatso, and conference participants Chungdak Koren and Dechen Pemba, Ferguson spoke emotionally of her visit to the exiled Tibetan community in Dharamsala, northern India, and of her meetings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She called people such as Palden Gyatso the “true lights” in this world and spoke of the importance of highlighting human rights struggles all around the world.
The Forum has been organized by the US-based Human Rights Foundation with local support from various organizations including the Norwegian Tibet Committee. Chungdak Koren, the Norwegian Tibet Committee’s Executive Director said, “This is an important international platform for raising the issue of Tibet in a space for promoting exchange and the sharing of experiences. I am proud to present Palden Gyatso, who spent 33 years in Chinese prison, as one of the oldest Tibetan political prisoners and at the same time also a second generation Tibetan, Dechen Pemba, who has been born and brought up in the UK but has also experienced human rights violations at the hands of the Chinese government.”
“I’m also encouraged that so many members of the business community are taking part in the Forum and it’s important for them to be concerned about human rights,” Chungdak further said.
With participants from thirty countries the 3 day conference concludes tomorrow. Speakers also include Harry Wu, Jung Chang, Elena Bonner, Vladimir Bukovsky, Elie Wiesel, Václav Havel, Greg Mortenson, Armando Valladares, Ramón J. Velásquez, Leyla Zana, Leopoldo Lopez, Emil Constantinescu and Vytautas Landsbergis.