The 76 year old Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama attended the official function, his second since he relinquished the political power in August last year, at Tsuglakhang along with Prime Minister Dr. Lobsang Sangay and Parliament speaker Penpa Tsering among other heads of the exile Tibetan government.
Dr. Sangay in his address to the gathering expressed his heartfelt greetings and expressed gratitude for the Dalai Lama for his tireless work to “transform the Tibetan polity into a vibrant democracy.”
“Today is a proud day for all Tibetans. It is the day when Tibetan exiles have fully realized His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s cherished wish to transform the Tibetan polity into a vibrant democracy,” Sangay said.
Crediting the achievement of Tibetan democracy entirely to Dalai Lama’s effort, Dr. Sangay said “despite resistance at every stage in the democratization of the Tibetan polity, His Holiness the Dalai Lama persisted in guiding his people to full democracy. From this it is clear that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has single-handedly built Tibetan democracy.”
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 60 years of total dedication, sincere motivation and visionary leadership has established him as the true democrat in the Tibetan world. The preciousness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s contribution towards reform and democracy will be fully appreciated by generations of Tibetans to come,” Dr. Sangay said further of Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama, whose retirement from the position of political head of exile Tibetan government last year, is considered yet another major step adopted by the Tibetan leader in the democratization of the Tibetan polity – a move that was hailed by world leaders despite resistance from his own people for Dalai Lama to retain both the powers.
Dr. Sangay sought to clarify that his administration has made “consistent and repeated” appeal to the Tibetans to refrain from drastic step of self-immolation protests and that it is his exile administration’s “sacred duty” to make the protesters’cries heard to all those who believe in justice.
According to Tibetan exile government, 51 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 to demand freedom and return of Dalai Lama from exile. 42 of those set who themselves to fire have died.
“To understand the self-immolations, it is crucial to know that no space exists in Tibet for freedom of speech and other conventional forms of protest,” Dr. Sangay said adding that Beijing’s oppressive rule is to be blamed for the wave of deadly self-immolation protests.
Dr. Sangay acknowledged the support and solidarity shown by world leaders to the wave of self-immolation inside Tibet and said “concrete action” in this regard is important to ease the situation.
“While we appreciate the statement of concerns and other steps being taken by various governments and the international community, we believe that concrete action is needed to help stop the tragedy in Tibet,” he said.
Dr. Sangay also strongly reiterated his administration’s firm commitment to Middle-way policy and to dialogue to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet.
“For Dharamshala and Beijing, this is a win-win situation,” Dr. Sangay said referring to the exile government’s position to seek only autonomy and not independence for Tibet.
Dr. Sangay also called on Tibetans to unite and sought to clarify misunderstandings reportedly prevailing among some section of Tibetan community following the name change of exile Tibetan government which was renamed ‘Bodmi Dritsuk’ from ‘Gaden Phodrang.’
“Some people either knowingly or unknowingly are describing this name change as suggesting Tibetan government to be no longer in existence,” Dr. Sangay said adding that such mistake is not only sad but is also capable of creating disintegration among the Tibetans both in exile and in Tibet.
“The Central Tibetan Administration is the legitimate representative of Tibetans both inside and outside of Tibet,” Sangay said.
The official ceremony observed a minute’s silence in symbolic message of solidarity and mourning to the Tibetans who lost their lives in the Tibetan freedom struggle particularly to those self-immolated.
During the ceremony, Dr. Sangay also handed a certificate of academic excellence from the department of education to three students who secured first position in their respective field of studies in class 12th CBSE examination. Several new books are also released on the occasion.
In light of tragic self-immolation inside Tibet, the official ceremony was kept a low-key affair and cultural programs earlier planned for the occasion were cancelled.