By Phuntsok Yangchen
Speaker of the Tibetan parliament addresses the gathering, Tsuglakhang courtyard, March 10, 2014/Phayul Photo/Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, March 10: The Tibetan Government in Exile today announced here that the year 2014 will be observed officially as the year of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to “pay tribute to his visionary leadership and contribution to Tibet and the world today.
The Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama who returned here after his US tour did not attend the official commemoration today of the 55th Tibetan national uprising day. After devolution of his political powers to an elected leadership in 2012, the 78 year old Nobel laureate has stayed away from the Tibetan national uprising day commemorations since last year. For three years since 2012, there has been no official statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Tibetan national uprising day.
PM Sangay raises the Tibetan national flag, Tsuglakhang courtyard, March 10, 2014/Phayul Photo/Kunsang Gashon
“Since the age of 16, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been working for Tibet and made the world know about Tibet and Tibetans. Because of him, we are able to live in exile with our heads held high,” said the Tibetan PM Losang Sangay in his address on the 55th Tibetan national uprising day here.
PM Sangay raised Tibetan national flag as the Tibetan national anthem was sung. A minute’s silence was observed to pay tribute to the Tibetans who have lost their lives for the cause of Tibet.
The Tibetan PM also reiterated his government’s commitment to the Middle Way approach to solve the Tibet issue. “A genuine autonomy for Tibet through the Middle Way Approach aspires to replace political repression with basic freedom, economic marginalization with economic empowerment, social discrimination with social equality, cultural assimilation with cultural promotion and environmental destruction with environmental protection.”
He also sent a message to Tibetans inside Tibet saying that the Tibetan government in exile is listening to their calls for the end of repression and sufferings. “Our journey may be long and the challenges may appear daunting, but we will succeed,” he added.
He also noted that if the Tibetans remain united, and bring the rich traditions of the elders to interplay with the innovation and dynamism of the younger generation, the Chinese government would have to address the Tibetans’ aspirations.
The Harvard law graduate, who also holds the portfolio of the Education Department, also highlighted the importance of modern education to solve the Tibet crisis. “It is the combination of traditional values and contemporary education that will keep our struggle vigorous, dynamic and formidable.”
DIIR kalon Dicki Chhoyang unveils a statue of Tapey, Martyrs memorial, Tsuglakhang, March 10, 2014/Phayul Photo/Kunsang Gashon
The Tibetan Parliament in Exile in its official statement expressed its solidarity with the Tibetans inside Tibet for their “totally selfless and highly courageous deeds.” It also noted the continuing self-immolation protests and protests against the Chinese government are fueled by political repressions, cultural assimilation, economic marginalization, ethnic discrimination, nomadic displacement and environmental destruction.
Since 2009, 127 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting against the China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies.
Following the official function, Dicki Chhoyang, Minister of Department of Information and International Relations unveiled a 7 feet statue of Tapey, the first Tibetan to immolate self in Tibet. A group of Chinese supporters had built the statue that will be erected near the Martyrs memorial at the Tsulagkhang entrance.
On March 10, 1959, Tibetans in the capital city of Lhasa rose up against the Chinese occupying forces, leading to the death of thousands of Tibetans and the eventual escape of the Dalai Lama to exile. Each year, Tibetans observe the day as the National Uprising Day all over the world.