By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, September 30: The exile headquarters of the Tibetan Diaspora will play host to the 2017 Conference for Tibetans of mixed parentage from October 9-13.
Organized with an aim to ‘bring together Tibetans of mixed heritage in diaspora, to discuss and develop ways to best contribute the community’ and also to ‘honor common heritage’, this year’s conference will be the largest so far.
“Holding a gathering in Dharamshala will not only be a wonderful chance for Tibetans of mixed heritage to come together in the heart of the Tibetan community in exile, but will also allow old and new participants to network and build on the discussions and projects which began in earlier meetings,” said Georgina Doji, former participant and co-organizer.
The five-day conference will be participated by individuals from Austria, Australia, Canada, France, India, New Zealand, the UK and the US. Backed by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the conference is scheduled to begin on an auspicious note with a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
However, the conference found itself in thick of things on the last day of the recently concluded 4th session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament where North America MP Tsewang Rigzin questioned the Kashag (Cabinet) and Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) backing the conference. “I am concerned if Kashag and DIIR are in support of such conference and I feel the Kashag too should be concerned. It may send a wrong signal in our community since our struggle is a struggle of a country and race,” Rigzin said.
CTA President (Sikyong) Lobsang Sangay in response said that CTA is only providing accommodation and transportation facilities during the conference, and that the conference is organized entirely by the group.
The remarks made by the former president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest Tibetan NGO in exile, led to outbursts on social networking sites including Facebook.
Tibetan individuals who are married to people of other nationalities trolled the Tibetan legislator for his “racist” remarks.
Kunsang Kelden, organizer of the conference met the comment with ‘shock’ calling on the parliamentarian to share his views in person with all the participants of the conference.
“I’m shocked and appalled at Chithue Tsewang Rigzin’s comments in Parliament about Tibetans of mixed parentage. The views he aired were highly offensive, ignorant and bigoted,” Kunsang wrote on her Facebook.
The comment also faced criticism from fellow parliamentarian Dorjee Tseten. He said, “I extend my support to Sikyong for his support towards the conference. I hope for a continued support because their main objective is to work for Tibet and we should be happy that they are gathering here in Dharamshala as proud Tibetans.”
According to the Tibetan Charter in Exile, Article 8, Clause 3 states, ‘Any person, although formally a citizen of another country, who has been legally married to a Tibetan national for more than three years, who desires to become a citizen of Tibet, may do so in accordance with the laws passed by the Tibetan Assembly’
The participants during its five-day conference will be discuss numerous topics such as Tibetan History, Language, Buddhism, Arts and Culture.