By Phurbu Thinley
Chief Guest Rinchen Khando Choegyal (C), Tibetan Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Gyari Dolma (L) and TWA President Kirti Dolkar Lhamo during the launch of a new publication at a function marking TWA’s 25th founding anniversary in Dharamsala, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009
Dharamsala, September 10: Tibetan Women’s Association, one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the exile Tibetan community, on Thursday marked its 25th founding anniversary in exile with an elaborate commemorative function.
“Tibetan women in exile dedicate this day to rekindling and reiterating their spirit and patriotic fervor by reevaluating their role and reflecting on their presence in the Tibetan freedom struggle, the group said in its press statement.
Rinchen Khando Choegyal, former Kalon (cabinet minister) and the founding president of TWA was the Chief Guest of the function. Gyari Dolma, Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in exile was also present as the special guest of the event. Several former executive members of TWA and the women leaders also attended the public function.
TWA president Kirti Dolkar Lhamo in her opening speech described TWA as a unique and historic Tibetan Women’s organization that strives both towards the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom and at the same time working to empower Tibetan women in exile.
To mark the occasion TWA released three new publications which it says are “oriented specifically towards the condition and experience of Tibetan Women”. It also premiered two documentary films “Breaking the Shackles; 50 years of Tibetan women’s struggle” and “Lhamo Tso; Behind the Sea”, a documentary that portrays the indomitable spirit of the wife of Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who was detained by Chinese authorities for his role in making the film “Leaving Fear Behind”.
Year 2009 is a significantly historic year for TWA, as it marks the 50th anniversary since its beginning in Tibet and 25 years since its reestablishment in exile in 1984. Accordingly, 2009 is being observed by the organization as the “International Year of Tibetan Women”.
As part of the event to mark Tibetan Women’s Association’s 25th founding anniversary, Tibetan people take part in a traditional Tibetan circle dance at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamsala, India.
The organization traces its origin back to March 12, 1959 in Lhasa, when thousands of Tibetan women gathered in front of the Potala Palace to protest the Chinese invasion as a show of their solidarity to Tibetan National Uprising two days before.
“Today, TWA is one of the most powerful women’s organizations in Tibetan history, with 49 worldwide chapters across 4 continents: Asia, Europe, America and Australia, and a total of 15,000 members,” the association said in its press statement.
The organisation describes itself as the second largest Tibetan NGO in exile and it sturdily supports the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s “middle-Way” policy that seeks “real and meaningful” autonomy instead of outright independence for Tibet.