By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, May 10: The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) today held a public felicitation program for a high level bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation led by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and senior Republican leader Jim Sensenbrenner at the courtyard of Tsug-Lag-Khang, the main temple in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala.
The event marking the second visit by a high-level bipartisan delegation of the U.S. Congress to Dharamshala after nine years was graced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The event also had in attendance, apart from the bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation team, USAID India mission director, officials from U.S. embassy, delegations from International Campaign for Tibet, CTA’s President Dr Lobsang Sangay, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, representatives of the three pillars of the Tibetan democracy as well as members of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and officials of the Tibetan administration.
Thanking the delegation for coming to Dharamsala and for their genuine support for the Tibetan cause, the Tibetan spiritual leader said, “The support for the Tibetan struggle signifies support for truth, justice, non-violence and Tibetan people’s resolve to preserve their culture rather than mere attachment or motivated by financial and political gains.”
“We consider China as our friend, the Tibet issue doesn’t benefit both China and Tibet, it needs to be resolved. Tibetans have been repressed for over sixty years, but it hasn’t resolved the issue. Repression and suppression cultivates suspicion and fear in human mind and it further creates more discords,” the Dalai Lama said reaffirming his commitment in non-violent path and resolving the Tibet issue through dialogue.
On changing the English tittle of Sikyong to President, the Tibetan spiritual leader said: “The Tibetan title, Sikyong correctly translates to Political leader in English. However, with the title being sometimes translated to Prime Minister it becomes a political matter. Therefore, if we use President as English tittle for Sikyong, it also refers to a head of an association or various organizations. Since we have an administration, there is no harm in using President as the title. We had a discussion on the matter,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said.
His Holiness’ remark over the title follows a declaration made by the Central Tibetan administration on its official website on May 6 that Sikyong would henceforth be rendered in English as ‘President’ of the Central Tibetan Administration.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi described the Congressional delegation visit a special occasion. “Anytime, anywhere when a person is in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a special occasion. I am proud to be here with the delegation from across America,” she said.
“We went to the Potala Palace and we saw the room where His Holiness lived. We promised each other then and there that we would do everything in our power to make sure he would return to that place,” Pelosi said recalling her visit to Tibet in 2012 as part of Congressional delegation that also included Representatives Jim McGovern, Betty McCollum and Joyce Beatty.
“To some in China, the authentic autonomous Tibet is inconceivable; to us it is inevitable. We must shorten the distance between the inconceivable to them and inevitable to us. I am sure with your devotion, determination and commitment to Tibetan values, culture, language and religion, and under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who will live to be at least 113 years old, I am certain we will succeed,” she added.
“China uses its economic leverage to silence the voices of friends of Tibet, but if we do not speak out against the repression in Tibet and in rest of China, because of China’s economic power, we loose all moral authority to talk about human rights anywhere else in the world,” she said adding, “We will not be silenced, you will not be silenced.”
The President of the CTA, Dr Lobsang Sangay in his welcome speech, thanked the bipartisan delegation of the U.S. Congress led by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for travelling all the way to Dharamsala.
Other members of the delegation are Representative Eliot Engel (Democrat, New York), Representative Jim McGovern (Democrat, Massachusetts), Representative Betty McCollum (Democrat, Minnesota), Representative Judy Chu (Democrat, California), Representative Joyce Beatty (Democrat, Ohio) and Representative Pramila Jayapal (Democrat, Washington).
“Your delegation sends a message of hope to Tibetans inside Tibet, a message of justice to China and a message of freedom to the world,” CTA’s President Dr Lobsang Sangay said.
Dr Sangay praised the Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and senior Representative Jim McGovern in particular, whom he met in Washington DC three years ago.
“We had a discussion then and came up with eight points and among those eight, seven points have been implemented,”Dr Sangay said.
“Unlike other politicians, you just don’t talk the talk but you walk the walk as well,” Dr Sangay remarked.
“The Chinese Government is trying to convert Tibet into China and Chinese towns, and Tibetans to Chinese people using severe measures, but the Chinese will not succeed. Our attitude is based on the Nalanda tradition of Buddhism, Buddhism is 2500 years old whereas communism is 100 years old and there is no competition between the two. After communism is gone Tibetan Buddhism will be there for another 2000 years, Tibet will be there, Tibetan people will be there and so will be the Tibetan spirit,” CTA’s President Dr Lobsang Sangay concluded.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner in address highlighted America’s commitment on Tibet and said, “Without justice, there is no freedom. Today there is no justice in Tibet for the Tibetans; for their religion, for their culture, language and for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Only when there is justice in all these areas, there will be freedom in Tibet and that is something that we at the U.S. congress are firmly committed to doing.”
“The U.S. will stand behind its commitment until Tibet is free and until there is justice for Tibetans,” Representative Jim Sensenbrenner concluded.
Representative Jim McGovern in his address thanked his delegation colleagues for their unwavering support for Human Rights and said, “We have come to Dharamsala because we believe in and stand with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And we stand with President Lobsang Sangay and all the Tibetan people.”
“China needs to understand that years of repression have not dented the excitement that the Tibetans and millions of people around the world have for His Holiness and for his vision. Love, peace and justice combined are more powerful than any amount of repression or violence,” Representative Jim McGovern said and further urged the Chinese government to respect human rights of the Tibetans, to release all the Tibetan political prisoners of conscience including the 11th Panchen Lama, resume dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama and concluded by calling on his own government to make Tibet a bigger priority.
Representative Eliot Engel in his address, called on China to let Tibetans practice their faith without the Chinese government’s interference. “Let the people of Tibet practice their faith. Let the people of Tibet determine their own future,” he said and concluded by reiterating his continued support for the Tibetan cause. “We will never stop until Tibet is free.”
Representative Pramila Jayapal in her speech, voiced her support for the Tibetan issue.
She emphasized the importance of preserving Tibetan religion, language, rich culture and arts. She concluded by thanking India, her birth country, for providing refuge to the Tibetan people.
Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, in his speech, thanked the U.S. Congressional delegation for coming to Dharamshala to express their support for the Tibet cause. The Speaker noted that it will send a strong message to the Chinese government that Tibetans are not alone.