News and Views on Tibet

Dalai Lama urges hope to Tibetans affected by Covid crisis

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Dalai Lama addresses the congregation on Tuesday at the main temple in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala (Photo/OHHDL)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 5: Following the reports of the ongoing ordeals of Tibetans inside Tibet due to the harsh Chinese policies in the name of Covid prevention, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Tuesday urged hope to all affected Tibetans. “What is most important is that you [Tibetans inside Tibet] should feel at ease and trust that the truth will eventually prevail,” he said at the end of the second day of teachings at Tsuglagkhang in Dharamshala.

“It is reported that Tibetans inside Tibet are facing several restrictions as a result of pandemic spread in Tibet. The public is facing great difficulties. To some extent, the Tibet-China struggle is linked to the Buddha’s teachings. The Chinese can never change the mindset and behavior of the Tibetan people, which are rooted in their religion and culture,” he told the audience, adding that the Buddhist tradition will gradually spread into China and beyond.

Noting the faith that Tibetans put in the head of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama said that the deities of Lhasa would help, “You do not need to feel disheartened when faced with temporary difficulties. We Tibetans have a unique karmic connection with Avalokiteshvara, who is our guardian deity . . . Although you are physically distant from me, since we have an uncommon connection based on our karma and prayers, you can think of me, Gyalwa Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama.”

The octogenarian leader further encouraged the devotees to not lose hope as he assured that he was in good health and that there was no need to worry, “As for myself, I am now 87 years old and in good health. My doctors have assured me after examining me that I will live for another 15 to 20 years. So, you Tibetans in Tibet, please feel at ease and be happy.”

The intense and inhumane implementation of the so called ‘Zero-Covid policy’ especially in the Tibetan Autonomous Region has seen common Tibetans suffer the brunt of Chinese government’s mismanagement and indifference to the crisis. Besides mass quarantines without basic facilities and unending lockdowns, reports of detention and arrest of those who speak against the regime have also surfaced over the weeks.

Dharamshala-based research group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said that five known deaths by means of suicide have taken place primarily due to the draconian measures adopted by the Chinese government under the Zero-Covid policy. The rights group said that five Tibetans committed suicide in a span of three days from September 23 to 25 in the capital city of Lhasa.

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