By Tsering Tashi (Office of Tibet, London)
London, July 8 : The 71st birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama was marked here today with colourful Tibetan traditional performances and words of encouragement from the guest speaker Rt. Hon. Norman Baker, a respected British parliamentarian and Vice-Chairman of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.
"Whether we are Buddhists or non-Buddhists, whether we live in this country or not, the Dalai Lama is a symbol of hope not only for Tibet but also for the people of the world," said Mr. Baker, who is also the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The British parliamentarian also expressed his appreciation for the Tibetan Nobel Laureate's involvement in global issues and said he admires the Tibetan culture and their respect for the environment. He assured the continued support of the British public for the Tibetan cause and said it is also important to tell the Chinese and their authorities how improving the human rights situation and resolving the issue of Tibet is in their own interest.
"There are many reasons to be optimistic. Justice will prevail in the end," said Baker, who has sponsored several Early Day Motions in the parliament on various issues relating to Tibet, including one calling for the unconditional release of the young Panchen Lama recognised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The statement of the Kashag (Tibetan cabinet) on the occasion of the 71st birthday of His Holiness that was distributed by the Office of Tibet, was
read during the function by Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, Representative of His Holiness for Northern Europe, the Baltic Countries and Poland.
The Kashag while acknowledging that His Holiness' birthday was being celebrated by people across the globe, also pointed out how "leaders from the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region and from the United Front Work Department" have stepped up their campaigns to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama by making baseless allegations and derogatory remarks.
"Such irresponsible remarks - driven as they are by feelings of anxiety, fear and lack of confidence - stems from the fact these are made hastily with no consideration to logic or reasoning. This has deeply saddened not just the Tibetans but millions of people in the international community who care for and respect Tibetan religion and culture," the Kashag statement said.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Sonam Frasi, a member of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies (parliament in exile) representing Tibetans in Europe, said so far all the Tibetan engagements with China has been to establish the ground for negotiations to resolve the issue of Tibet. He said the Tibetan government in exile is sincere and committed in finding an amicable solution to the Tibetan problem and that it is doing everything possible to engage the Chinese side in the dialogue process. Since 2002, five rounds of talks have taken place between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.
Mr. Sonam Frasi, who was re-elected this May as one of the two Assembly members representing the Tibetans in Europe, said if China ends the talks it will not be because of any shortcoming on the part of the Tibetan government in exile and only China will have to take the blame.
Mr. Tenzin Tsundue, a well known Tibetan poet activist and General Secretary of the Friends of Tibet (India), remarked how he felt encouraged and
inspired to see the Tibetan children in UK perform traditional song and dance. He lauded His Holiness' leadership and said this is how the Tibetans live and celebrate his birthday.
"We Tibetans are undergoing a great tragedy. When the Chinese speak, the people say it is propaganda. But when the Dalai Lama speaks, the people clap. This is the leadership that His Holiness has given us Tibetans," said Tsundue, who is on a speaking engagement in London and other parts of UK at the invitation of the Students for a Free Tibet-UK.
Tsundue said that today young Chinese people interested in Buddhism visit Tibet to learn under the guidance of Tibetan lamas. "This is happening
because the Tibetans never gave up," he said and later speaking in Tibetan urged the Tibetans in the hall to always keep the Tibetan spirit alive
irrespective of where they live.
The speakers thanked all concerned for their past support and appealed for their continued support for the Tibetan struggle for truth and justice.
The day's programme concluded with the Tibetan national anthem and presentation of scarves by Mrs. Takla, on behalf of the Tibetan Community in Britain, to all the junior performers as a token of appreciation and recognition of their efforts. They were also give a DVD copy each of the special Tibetan Community Dance Group performance presented last year at the International Students House in London to mark His Holiness' 70th birthday, and in which almost all of them had also performed. For the last couple of months the juniors and senior members of the dance group have been sacrificing their Sundays to practice the performances for this special day, which, all Tibetans and non-Tibetans who had gathered en masse at the Westminster Cathedral Hall near Victoria station seemed to have apparently enjoyed.