A flood of Tibetan national flags are raised in the Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi as former deputy PM LK Advani and Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay takes part in the in the first day of the Tibetan People's Solidarity Campaign on January 30, 2013. (Phayul photo)
NEW DELHI, January 30: The four-day Tibet solidarity campaign began on a high political note in the Indian capital today with top Indian leaders from both sides of the Indian Parliament expressing their support and solidarity with Tibet.
Former deputy prime minister and stalwart Indian leader LK Advani shared the stage with official representatives of the ruling Indian National Congress and members of parliament, Priya Dutt and Dr EM Sudarsan Natchiappan.
Over 5000 people, including 4500 Tibetans from India, Nepal, and Bhutan and nearly a thousand Indian supporters filled the Talkatora Stadium carrying Tibetan national flags and banners calling for Tibet’s freedom and international support.
In his introductory remarks, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Penpa Tsering noted that Tibetans have gathered to express solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet, where he said the situation is getting “more and more grave each day.”
“Political freedom in Tibet is non existent. Anybody who raises slogans calling for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, about Tibet’s independence is sent to jail,” Speaker Tsering said, while calling for greater support from heads of governments around the world.
“Just making statement is not enough. World leaders should tell the Chinese government that Tibet issue needs to be resolved for the interest of China.”
Delivering the keynote address, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan people, noted that China’s “unacceptable occupation and unbearable repression” has led to the self-immolations of 99 Tibetans since 2009.
Former deputy PM LK Advani addressing the Tibet solidarity event. (Phayul photo)
The de facto
Tibetan prime minister emphasised that Tibetans inside Tibet are “determined to regain freedom” and Tibetans outside are “determined to take this as a sacred duty to support them.”
“Tibetans in Tibet have spoken. Tibetans in exile have spoken – not only in our hearts we believe we will regain our freedom and His Holiness the Dalai Lama will return to Tibet but in our heads also we believe,” Sikyong Sangay said.
He added that the Tibetan spirit, sense of solidarity, and sense of unity are “as strong as it can be.”
“Tibetans are united, our spirits our high, our sense of solidarity strong. Hence, in our head and in our heart we believe our day will come soon,” Sikyong Sangay said. “This will be the best story of the 21st century.”
Addressing the solidarity event, veteran Indian leader, LK Advani recalled his feeling as a student when Indian got its independence in 1947.
“When India got its independence, it felt like we have touched the sky and I am certain that for the Tibetans also such an opportunity will come,” Advani said to a rousing applause from the crowd.
Calling the Dalai Lama, a “saintly person,” the former deputy prime minster recollected telling a visiting Chinese president that a peaceful agreement between Tibetans and the Chinese government “can take place only with such a leader.”
“I am here representing the principle opposition party and the ruling party is represented by two of my parliamentary colleagues,” Advani said. “We feel touched by your love for India and we feel ourselves inspired from your aspiration to see that you are able to return to Tibet.”
Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay and Speaker Penpa Tsering reciting the Prayers of Words of Truth at the conclusion of the first day of the Tibet Solidarity campaign in New Delhi on January 30, 2013. (Phayul photo)
The octogenarian leader, while expressing his hope for the 21st century to become an Indian century, noted that it could also become China’s if Beijing considers a “peaceful and satisfying settlement” with the Tibetans.
Advani further pledged to remind the Indian public of their responsibility towards the Tibetan people.
“I would like to see India succeed in all respects in living up to the expectations that you have of India and I will speak to my own people and point out how we are failing in the responsibility that we have.”
MP Priya Dutt, speaking on behalf of the ruling Congress Party, expressed her concern and solidarity with the people of Tibet and paid homage to the Tibetan self-immolators.
She stressed that the “ethnic and cultural rights of the Tibetans must be recognised, protected, and respected.”
“We thank His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his presence in our country and for his blessing for all of us,” Dutt said. “We all stand united for this cause and I salute the spirit and determination of the Tibetan people.”
MP Dr Hassan Khan, representing the National Conference and Dr EM Sudarsan Natchiappan of the Congress, also addressed the gathering.
The first day of the Tibetan People’s Solidarity Campaign concluded with the recitation of the ‘Prayers of the Words of Truth.’