By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, July 26: Hundreds of Tibetans and supporters in Dharamsala attended the funeral procession of Tenzin Choeying, the 19-yr-old Tibetan student who set himself on fire for the cause of the Tibetan people.
Tenzin Choeying, a student of Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS) at Sarnath, Varanasi staged his self-immolation protest on July 14 near the university’s boy’s hostel entrance and succumbed to burn injuries on July 22, days after he was airlifted to Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi.
A prayer session and brief ceremony to pay last respects to the deceased was held at Lhagyal Ri, located almost half-way on the circumambulation path around the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s residence, where busts of two other Tibetans who took the fiery route to protest against Chinese occupation of Tibet in exile have been sculpted as well as a board containing pictures of Tibetan self-immolators from inside Tibet have been erected earlier to honour their sacrifices for the Tibetan cause.
Members of the Kashag (Tibetan cabinet) and Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile as well as representatives of various Dharamsala-based NGOs came to pay their respects.
Addressing the crowd, Tamding Hrichoe, Vice President of Tibetan Youth Congress(TYC) spoke highly of the young boy’s sacrifice for the cause of Tibet and expressed great sadness and solidarity with the aggrieved family.
He also called on the repressive Chinese government to engage in talks to address the Tibetan issue and urged the United Nations to address the critical human rights situation in Tibet and take up the matter seriously, as not doing so will go against the very objectives on which the United Nations was set up.
“We should honour Tenzin Choeying’s sacrifice for the Tibetan people and the cause of Tibet by honouring his will, that the Tibetan youngsters need to open their eyes to learn Tibetan language,” Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel said.
“We shall overcome. More often than not, the oppressed race overcomes the oppressor; history favours us. But protecting our culture, language and identity is our responsibility,” Khenpo Sonam Tenphel added and concluded by expressing the Tibetan Parliament’s solidarity with Tenzin Choeying’family.
The bereaved father of Tenzin Choeying described his son as being passionate about the Tibetan cause and movement since his child hood.
“My biggest regret is that I couldn’t attend his video calls, I missed 9-10 video calls from my son a day before he self-immolated, around 8 or 9 pm on July 13. I am now left to ponder what he might have said, had I attended his calls,” Choeying’s father Ngawang Khedup said and further urged the Tibetan youngsters not to self-immolate and realize His Holiness’ wishes by contributing to the Tibetan cause through education.
As the funeral procession began from Lhagyal Ri, hundreds of Tibetans and supporters chanted prayers and followed the body of Tenzin Choeying covered with the Tibetan National flag and TYC flag.
Choeying’s body was finally cremated at around 9:30 am at the crematorium located half kilometer to Mcleod Ganj. His cousin brother Tenzin Tsundue and TYC’s Vice President Tamding Hrichoe lit the pyre at the crematorium in the presence of Choeying’s parents and relatives.