By Tsering Tashi
LONDON, January 14 - The Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, returned here yesterday after a successful two-day visit to Ireland where she gave a talk on Tibet at the University of Dublin and met with officials of the Irish Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking at the Trinity College of Dublin University, Mrs. Takla while thanking the Irish concern for Tibet briefed students who had packed the lecture hall about Tibet’s history and the present sad situation, including the fate of the young Panchen Lama and the well known case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. She said that despite the tragedy that has befallen the Tibetan people, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been trying to work with China by consistently pursuing the path of non-violence in order to resolve the issue of Tibet in the interest of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
Mrs. Takla who is based at the Office of Tibet, London, said that contrary to what some people think, non-violence as a method adopted by His Holiness and the Tibetan government in exile was not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength that would help to establish a stable and lasting solution to the Tibetan problem. She also told the audience about the democratization of the Tibetan set up in exile with its various departments and offices and a functional parliament in exile. She said that the Chairman of the Tibetan Kashag (cabinet) is now directly elected by the Tibetan people and how in a public document issued in 1992, His Holiness has clearly stated that when he and the Tibetans are able to return to Tibet with a certain degree of freedom then he will “not play any role in the future government of Tibet, let alone seek the Dalai Lama's traditional political position in the government.”
On the issue of Sino-Tibetan dialogue, Mrs. Takla said that the process is at its early stage and that negotiations were yet to begin. She appealed to governments, parliaments and supporters to encourage China to seriously take the dialogue process ahead leading to the start of actual negotiations to resolve the issue of Tibet. She said that it was an opportune time for the Chinese authorities to respond positively to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s non-violent and middle-way approach.
Mrs. Takla talk in Dublin was at the invitation of Dublin University’s College Historical Society said to be the oldest undergraduate debating society in the world, “older even than our counterparts in Oxford and Cambridge.” Their guests in the recent past include Mr. Paul Murphy, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Rev. Jesse Jackson of the United States.
While in Dublin, the Tibetan representative also met with members of the Irish All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. She found this and her meetings at the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs very useful. Mrs. Takla said she very much appreciated all the help she received during the visit and at all times from Mr. Neil Steedman and Anthony O’Brien of the Irish Tibet Support Group.
Mrs. Takla last visited Ireland in December 2003 when she was invited for the launch of the Irish All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and to speak at the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs’ hearing on Tibet. At the time she thanked the Irish government and people for all their support, and recalled “the years when Ireland took the initiative in sponsoring United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on the issue of Tibet. The then Foreign Minister of Ireland, Mr. Frank Aiken, who, in appealing to the United Nations General Assembly during its debate on Tibet in 1959, said: "Looking around this assembly, and looking at my own delegations, I think how many benches would be empty in this hall if it had always been agreed that when a small nation or a small people feel in the grip of a major power no one could ever raise their voice here; that once there was a subject nation, then must always remain a subject nation. Tibet has fallen into the hands of the Chinese People's Republic for the last few years. For thousands of years, or for a couple of thousand of years at any rate, it was as free and as fully in control of its own affairs as any nation in this Assembly, and a thousand times more free to look after its own affairs than many of the nations here.” Mr. Frank Aiken further stated, “The sympathy of the Irish people going to the victims of imperialism is nothing new. It goes out to the people of Tibet in their present suffering as it did in the past.” Mr. Frank Aiken quoted from Terence MacSwiney, a role model for all those engaged in non-violent struggles. Terence MacSwiney said, “It is not they who inflict most but they who can suffer most, will conquer.”
She also recalled the moving reception given to His Holiness the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan leader first visited Ireland in 1973. Ireland was one of the first western nations that His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited after his exile in India in 1959. His Holiness the Dalai Lama who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 had then visited Dublin in part to thank the government and the people of Ireland for their consistent and strong role in taking the initiative in raising the issue of Tibet in the United Nations General Assembly.