By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 15: The University of Salisbury in Maryland, United States, on Tuesday awarded the incumbent Tibetan Prime Minister(Sikyong) Dr. Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration its highest honor, the ‘Presidential Medal’ for promoting peace and non-violence while holding the highest office in the Tibetan struggle.
At a ceremony at the University on Oct. 13, the university President Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach presented Dr. Lobsang Sangay the medal. “In recognition of his esteemed political leadership and his work to seek a peaceful, non-violent resolution for Tibet,” the citation reads.
On receiving the honor, Sangay said, “By presenting me this medal, it sends a powerful message to Tibetans inside Tibet that there are friends outside Tibet who are with justice, who stands for human rights and the freedom of the Tibetan people. At the same time, it sends a message to the Chinese government that they should embrace the peaceful and reconciliatory spirit of the Tibetan people and solve the issue of Tibet.
“Thank you very much to Salisbury University for the honor and privilege by giving me this presidential medal. I am from a humble background. Personally, I don’t think I deserve this medal but I accept it on behalf of the Tibetan people and the justice we seek,” Dr. Sangay said.
Speaking at the University’s ‘One person can make a difference’ lecture series, he delivered his message titled “Democracy and the Third Way”. He spoke on the Middle way policy, the official position of the Tibetan struggle and reiterated CTA’s commitment of seeking ‘genuine autonomy’.
He also highlighted the importance of Tibet’s fragile eco system deemed the third pole by western scientists to be in grave danger which ultimately dictates environmental stability of not only Asia but climate fluctuations reaching as far as Europe.
Elaborating on the wave of self immolations in Tibet, he remarked, “Despite the Central Tibetan Administration’s repeated appeals not to resort to drastic actions, at least 142 Tibetans have burned themselves in protest. Their unanimous demands have been the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans”. He likened the shocking number of self immolations to the realities in his homeland saying, “It reflects the seriousness of the situation, the difficulty of life inside Tibet”.
Desmond Tutu, the South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop congratulated Sangay on receiving the honor. The long time supporter of the Tibet and a close friend of the Dalai Lama wrote, “I am delighted to write this short note to congratulate you on receiving the President’s Medal for Promoting Peace and Understanding especially at this time when we see so much turmoil and suffering caused by violence and unrest. The world has been stunned by the number of refugees seeking to flee violence and unrest. Our world needs more champions of peace and goodwill of which you are one”.