Tsewang Dhondup receiving the 2012 Lhakar Award for Courage in New York, US. (Photo/SFT)
DHARAMSHALA, August 27: The 2012 Lhakar Awards were given away to seven Tibetans, including three incarcerated political prisoners, over the weekend at a ceremony held in New York, US.
Founded in 2012 by the Students for a Free Tibet, the Lhakar Awards recognise individuals who have displayed “outstanding courage, innovation and dedication in their service to the Tibetan cause.”
The Lhakar Award for Courage for individuals exhibiting “extraordinary courage and resilience amid difficult circumstances in taking action for the cause of Tibetan freedom” was given to Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Younten Gyatso, Achok Phujjhung, and Tsewang Dhondup.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was honored for his “unparalleled contribution to the Tibetan people as a social reformer, community leader, spiritual teacher and pioneering environmentalist.”
“Targeted by Chinese authorities for his advocacy of Tibetan rights, Rinpoche was framed and given the death sentence which was later commuted to life imprisonment,” SFT said in a release. “Rinpoche continues to serve his unjust sentence.”
Yonten Gyatso was honored for his “unparalleled courage as a Tibetan citizen journalist.”
“Yonten Gyatso has been imprisoned for sending information to the United Nations Human Rights Council about the political situation in Tibet and releasing information and photo of Tenzin Wangmo after her self-immolation last year. He is currently in China’s Mianyang prison.”
Achok Phuljhung was honored for his “unparalleled courage as a Tibetan artist.”
“Achok Phuljhung's music evokes in people a deep sense of pride and unity. He was arrested for singing in praise of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Kalon Tripa Lobsang Sangay.”
Tsewang Dhondup was honored for the “singular courage that he displayed during the Tibetan uprising of March 2008 and thereafter.”
“While marching in a protest rally in Tehor, Kham on March 24, he was shot twice, in his kidney and in his arm, following which he escaped into the mountains and remained a fugitive for over a year,” SFT said. “Since his escape to India in 2009, he has been a unique voice for Tibetan freedom.”
The Lhakar Award for Dedication for an individual who has made an “outstanding contribution to the Tibetan cause of freedom through consistent, disciplined and unwavering effort” was given to Tibetan activist and community leader, Tsultrim Sangmo for her “unparalleled dedication to the Tibetan cause.”
The Lhakar Award for Innovation for individuals who make a difference to Tibetan society and the freedom movement through the “force of their creativity and originality in the field of art, music and literature” went to musician Karma Emchi and artist Tenzing Rigdol.
SFT executive director Tenzin Dorjee said that Lhakar, a homegrown, Tibetan self-reliance movement that started in the aftermath of the 2008 uprisings in Tibet, has turned into a “uniting theme” among Tibetans.
"The spread of Lhakar across Tibet in the last three years is being mirrored in exile,” Dorjee said. “Hundreds of Tibetans in over a dozen cities worldwide – from London to New York to Dharamsala to Salt Lake City – are observing weekly Lhakar vigils and actions in solidarity with the efforts being made by Tibetans inside Tibet."