By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 13 July: Dorjee Tashi and his sister Gonpo Kyi were awarded the ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ 2023 at the award ceremony held on Wednesday at Hotel Norbu House here in Mcleod Ganj.
The ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’, an annual award is given to Tibetan human rights defenders who show deep commitment to enhancing the freedom and rights of the Tibetan people at great personal risk.
Commemorating the 7th anniversary of Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death, the event was jointly organized by four non-governmental organisations: International Tibet Network (ITN) Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA), Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT).
Appreciating the honour given to the life and work of Rinpoche, she said “In 2015 my uncle died after spending over 13 unjust years in Chinese custody despite the fact that we had applied for due medical parole, and today the world is watching how China is disdainfully treating human rights defenders in Tibet. I appeal to the the international community to firmly hold China accountable for the treatment of tis critics.”
Sikyong (President) Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) attended the ceremony as the chief guest, with the former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen, Ven Tsering Dorjee and Wangdhen Kyab as the guest speakers.
Sikyong expressed honour of sharing the stage with Dhondup Wangchen and Ven Tsering Dorjee.
Sikyong Penpa Tsering clarified that given Gonpo Kyi’s current status, the sensitivity of awarding the Medal of Courage to her was discussed and gauged with those concerned. In merit of her courage and the awareness and support such an award would garner, all concerned individuals affirmed the move to be advantageous rather than detrimental to the awardee.
Appealing to fellow Tibetans, Dhondup Wangchen summed up his brief speech with “If you can’t be of service for the cause of Tibet, then don’t be a destructive force to it.”
Dhondup Wangchen was charged with an act of ’subversion’ for his landmark documentary ‘leaving fear behind’ and served a six-year sentence in prison and was later released in 2014 and, then in 2017 escaped from Tibet to the US.
Previous recipients of the “Medal of Courage” includes incarcerated retired medical doctor Yeshe Choedron (2016), imprisoned Tibetan language activist Tashi Wangchuk (2017), Dhondup Wangchen and Golog Jigme (2018), environmental activist Anya Sengdra (2022).
Ven Tsering Dorjee was a student of Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Along with his teacher, he experienced first-hand the tyrannical actions employed by the Chinese authority against Tibetans, particularly his teacher who, despite the International campaign was sentenced to life imprisonment and later passed away in Chinese custody in 2015.