By Tendar Tsering
DHARAMSHALA, March 10: Thousands of Tibetans led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the exile Tibetan leadership took part in the official commemorations of the 53rd Tibetan National Uprising Day at Tsug-la Khang, the main temple in Dharamshala earlier today.
The function began with the proud rendition of the Tibetan national anthem as Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay raised the Tibetan national flag. A minute-long silence was observed to mourn the thousands of Tibetans who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet.
In his official statement, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Penpa Tsering called on China to address the genuine grievances of the Tibetan people and urged leaders in Beijing to change their repressive policies in Tibet.
“How can China win our hearts when they are turning Tibetan monasteries into military garrisons and forcing monks and nuns to display photos of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Hu Jintao along with the statues of lord Buddha,” Speaker Penpa Tsering questioned.
“Trust is the foundation for peace and stability and China has the power to build trust by releasing all political prisoners including the XIth Panchen Lama,” the Speaker added.
In his maiden March 10 address as Kalon Tripa, Dr Lobsang Sangay offered tribute to the brave men and women of Tibet and paid homage to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his “vision, leadership and benevolence.”
Hailing the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration as the legitimate representative of the six million Tibetan people, Dr Sangay asserted that Beijing’s view of a generational change in Tibetan leadership weakening the Tibetan movement will never materialize.
“The resiliency of the Tibetan spirit combined with a coming generation of educated Tibetans will provide dynamic leadership and sustain the movement till freedom is restored in Tibet,” Dr Sangay said.
Challenging the Chinese government’s claim of “freedom and equality” in Tibet, Dr Sangay called on China to allow “democratic, transparent, free and fair elections n Tibet.”
“When China invaded Tibet in 1949, it promised to usher in a ‘socialist paradise’. In actuality Tibetans are treated as second class citizens”, Kalon Tripa said while quoting the Chinese communist party’s recent declaration of “war” against Tibetan protestors.
“The entire region is under undeclared martial law…Tibet has become one of the most militarized areas in the region.”
The de facto Tibetan Prime Minister blamed China’s repressive policies for the 26 self-immolations that have taken place in Tibet since 2009.
“Today, there is no space for any conventional protests such as hunger strikes, demonstrations and even peaceful gatherings in Tibet. Tibetans are therefore taking extreme actions,” Dr Sangay said.
Following the official function, thousands of Tibetans and supporters carried out a protest march led by the exile family of Tseten Dorjee who started their return march to Tibet today.
Tibetans carrying coffins symbolic of those who died in recent protests in Tibet raised slogans for a Free Tibet and Long Life of the Dalai Lama.
Similar protests commemorating the March 10, 1959 Uprising in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, which led to the death of thousands of Tibetans and the eventual escape of the Dalai Lama, have been carried out all over the world.