By Phurbu Thinley
Mrs. Gyari Dolma and Mrs. Ngawang Lhamo along side Ministers of HP and Members of HP Vidhan Sabha. (File Photo/ATPD)
Dharamsala, August 30 - Earlier on 28 August, 2006, Himachal Pradesh (HP) Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, announced the constitution of HP Legislature Forum for Tibet after obtaining consensus of all the members of the Legislature Assembly, including the Opposition in the State Vidhan Sabha while presiding over the first meeting of the forum in Shimla on that very day.
Tibetan delegation comprising of Tibetan Assembly Vice Chairman, Mrs. Gyari Dolma, and member of the Standing Committee of the Assembly Mrs. Nawang Lhamo were in Shimla to coordinate and finalise the formation of this landmark parliamentary support forum for Tibet in the Himachal Vidhan Sabha.
Following is an interview with Mrs. Gyari Dolma on the over all aspect of the FORUM shortly after her arrival from Shimla, the capital of Himachal State.What is the recently constituted legislative support Forum for Tibet in the HP Vidhan Sabha called?
It’s called- Himachal Pradesh Legislature Forum for Tibet.How the Forum for Tibet was conceived and what was its primary objective?
The need to establish such a link was initially realized by ATPD (Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies) way back during the 13th House. However, the idea could not take proper shape and the Government H.P. also changed since then. But the motion for the need of such a forum was not abandoned.
During the 14th House, the former Chairman of the ATPD, Mr. Pema Jungney, once again made the proposal before the Honourable Chief Minister of HP, Mr. Virbhadra Singh, during his visit to Dharamshala on 28 December 2005.
Later on 15th August this year, when we met with the Shri. Gangu Ram Misafir, honorable Speaker of the Himachal Vidhan Sabha during the official commemoration of India’s Independence Day here in Dharamsala, he at once promised to arrange a meeting with the Indian counterparts during the then forthcoming monsoon session of the HP Vidhan Sabha. That is how the idea formally turned into a reality.
The very objective of forming this Forum is that, it has been one of the long standing mission of ATPD to reach out and seek support of respective parliaments of different countries in order to gain more legitimate recognition of the Dalai Lama led Tibetan Government-i-Exile and the just cause of the Tibetan freedom struggle.
This is with the subsequent hope that such an initiative, in the long run, will result in the formulation of pro-Tibet policy by the Government of respective countries. That is the proper and legitimate channel for lobbying Governmental support in democratic countries.
The step taken is also in line with the action plan taken during the WORLD PARLIAMENTARY CONVENTION ON TIBET, which calls upon respective governments and parliaments the urgent need to take action for Tibet.
Accordingly, India being a democratic country, to take such a legitimate action, it is important to reflect the aspiration of its people. To do so, it becomes relevant to actively reach out to the Indian population and, one of the most effective ways of connecting with the Indian masses is through their elected representatives.
At the same time, this Forum aspires to further strengthen relationship and the cooperation between the Himachal Pradesh Government and its Vidhan Sabdha with the Tibetan Government in Exile and its parliament.How have the members of the Vidhan Sabha responded to this resolution?
It is important to note here that we, as Tibetans, have simply put forward the request before the HP leaders. It’s the unanimous support shown by the Honourable Ministers of this state and members of the State Vidhan Sabha that accelerated the conceived idea into a functional reality.
It was Mr. Kaul Singh Thakur, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs of HP, who actually made the proposal in the House to constitute the Forum. It was even more overwhelming to see both the leaders of the ruling as well as the opposition party supporting the motion. And thus the Forum was constituted successfully by unanimous support. This clearly symbolises unconditional support for Tibetan cause from all aspect of the Government of Himachal State.At the end of your visit to Shimla, did the constitution result in any concrete result?
First of all the very fact that the “NOTICE” of the meeting with the Indian counterparts in the HP Vidhan Sabha scheduled on 24th August in Shimla was officially served by none other than the Parliamentary Affairs Minister of HP, Mr. Kaul Singh Thakur. This is a great honour for us!
Secondly, we know that there is a large International Parliamentary support group for Tibet. But, knowing that this is the first time ever that an Indian state government has taken such a landmark decision for the cause of Tibet itself speaks of a great success and achievement for us.
Anyway, this is just the beginning. There are more things to be done and till then we need to push things forward. Who are the members of this newly constituted Legislative Forum for Tibet?
The Speaker of the House already announced the constitution of the High Level Executive Committee for this Forum. The committee consists of; the President, Mr Virbhadra Singh, the Chief Minister of HP; the First Vice President, Mr. P.K. Dhumal, Former Chief Minister of the HP and the Leader of BJP in the House; the Second Vice President, Mr. Kaul Singh Thakur, the Parliamnetary Affairs Minister, HP; the General Secretary, Mr. Vijay Singh Mangotia, former Minister and an MLA at present; and the Treasurer Shrimati Asha Kumari.
Besides, there are ten other members in the executive committee. Interestingly to ensure continuity in the long run, all the legislative assembly are the ex-officio members of this Forum.In what ways does this HP Legislature Forum for Tibet plans to support Tibetan cause and the welfare of Tibetan people?
As I mentioned earlier, the main objective and requirement of such a Forum is more of political one and there is less of welfare reason.
As far as the welfare of Tibetan people and the Tibetan Government in exile is concerned, the Indian Government, both at the Centre and respective states, has always been kind and very sympathetic. They have in fact done more than they could and they continue to do so.
However, we know that we share age-old historical, cultural and religious ties between our two people. We are also in many ways interlinked and interdependent. For instance, the security of India and, the environmental and ecological concerns of the great Indian sub-continent cannot be dealt separately from Tibet. A meaningful free Tibet will always be in the best interest of India.
Therefore, for the very sake of India’s security and, for peaceful and harmonious existence in this part of sub-continent, the Tibetan issue cannot be kept in isolation.
Past experience shows that Supporters of Tibet and leaders in the Government in spite of the truth and just cause of Tibet, once in power, they simply become silent moral supporters. This trend must change in India, if not for the sake of Tibet, for the sake of India.
The HP Government has shown clean of this disease, which I jokingly called Tibet phobia disease. This will definitely influence the Indian leadership both at the centre and the states to take similar pro-active position and attitude for Tibet. I hope for the same.
As such, this newly formed Forum promises to help Tibetans to achieve their objective with democratic approach and non-violent methods.CTA has been based in HP since its very re-establishment in exile. It is now almost in its fifty years’ of functioning in exile that the Government of this host state has taken such a landmark initiative of its kind. Do you feel this Forum will bring about any visible and positive impact on the Tibetan struggle for Freedom?
I believe that the unanimous support and decision both by the ruling as well as the opposition parties, in a rare incidence shaking hands together for the sake of Tibet, definitely adds great confidence and inner strength in us in our struggle for freedom based on truth and just cause.
Particularly, the Tibetans in Himachal Pradesh will always value and remember the unwavering support given by our host state. It will acts as a reminder for us that we do not disappoint our host in anyway and signals us to work harder to gain more support.
More importantly to those brave Tibetans inside Tibet who despite harsh realities have never given up their faith; knowledge of such a overwhelming support by our Indian friends will always instill in them renewed hope to keep the flame burning.
The support is mainly towards the able leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is yet another occasion to salute His Holiness for his farsighted leadership. Tell us about the working mandate of the Forum and has the Forum outlined any set of action plan for the future?
Right now the Forum is in its initial stage. I would also believe this Forum would be more effective if the detail outline of action will be decided at the earliest.
I’m hopeful that this announcement should come during our next round of meeting due to be in Dharamsala in December this year.
As of now, I’m proud to say that such a strong legitimate Forum for Tibet has been constituted and we should make best use of the platform.Has there been any sign of diplomatic pressure from the Chinese Government in constituting such a political forum for Tibet?
I have no idea so far regarding the constituting of the Forum is concerned. Even if China does exert such pressure, it’s not binding on the Government of India.
India is a sovereign democratic country and exerting such a pressure by China will be on its parts to interfere in the internal affairs of India.
Besides, I personally believe the support and the stand taken by India are of fundamental significance in the ultimate resolution of Tibetan political issue. This is one primary reason why we largely chose to depend on India’s support from the very beginning of our struggle for lost freedom.
I’m very much confident that in the long run, India will not bend before Chinese diplomatic pressure and, if it so chooses, India can support Tibetan cause which will not amount to anti-China. Rather it is pro-justice given the fact that there is a legitimate truth about the historical and legal status of Tibet.
I would say a reasonable solution for the Tibetan issue must be founded at the end. Sooner or later the political issue of Tibet should be resolved. Till then, no matter how long it takes; Tibetan people are not going to give up. And in that, I see a very important role for India to play for the benefit of itself and Asia at large.
It’s in the best interest of India to recognize the historical truth about the legal existence of Tibet. So, there is a bigger political role for India to play in this part of the world and I am for sure that India will live up to its expectation.