DHARAMSALA, March 10: Former Botswana President Ian Khama joined thousands of Tibetans and supporters today at the courtyard of Tsug-lag-Khang, the main temple in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala to observe the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising day.
The Central Tibetan Administration’s official anniversary function is held to pay tribute to the Tibetan martyrs who lost their lives in the March 10, 1959 Uprising in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital as well as all those Tibetans who had sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet.
Former Botswana President Ian Khama attended the official anniversary function as the Chief Guest along with international parliamentary delegation from 10 countries and Chinese delegation from Sino Tibetan Study Group, Federation for Democratic China and Citizen Power Initiatives for China and representatives of the three pillars of the Tibetan democracy as well as members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and officials of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
President of CTA, Dr Lobsang Sangay and Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Pema Jungney read statements of the Kashag and Tibetan parliament respectively. Both the Tibetan leaders reiterated the Tibetan administration’s firm stand and commitment to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet through ‘Middle Way Approach’; urged the Chinese government to enter into a peaceful Sino-Tibetan negotiation on the issue of Tibet and thanked friends of Tibet and the Tibetan people from the past and present across the world for their continued and unequivocal support for the issue of Tibet.
“His excellency Serêtsê Khama Ian Khama, the former President of Botswana has taken the time and literally trouble to come all the way to Dharamsala to be with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to be with us, to stand up for democracy and human rights and to support Tibetan people for which on behalf of all the Tibetan people, I would like to express our deep admiration for your courage for your principle decision to be with us. Thank you very much,” President Sangay said.
Additionally, 60 Chinese from all over the world were also in attendance at the anniversary as special guests.
“We have 60 Chinese brothers and sisters from across the world with us to show their solidarity and specifically support the middle way approach. 6O special guest on the 6oth Anniversary is a good sign,” President Sangay added.
“Your presence here sends a message that we are with you, we are for democracy and we are for the human rights of the Tibetan people and that means a lot to us. With friends like you, our future looks bright and sunny,” he concluded.
Former Botswana President Ian Khama started his address by thanking the CTA for inviting him as the Chief Guest on the occasion to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising day.
“I am very happy and delighted to be sharing this special event with all of you,” he said.
“Today I see a display of so many of your Tibetan flags, your people expressing their love for Tibet and some have even painted their faces with the Tibetan Flag,” he said and added that he would like to take pictures with them and send them to the Chinese ambassador.
“We (distinguished international guests) are representative of the world community who have not and shall never forget the suffering endured by Tibetans as they peacefully pursued their struggle to once more live in freedom in their ancient homeland,” he added.
“What we need is wise leadership. Political, economic and military strength does not translate into wisdom. While the authorities in Beijing may have the power to suppress basic freedoms within their own jurisdiction, they should not be allowed to exercise the same repressive authority outside of their borders,” he concluded.
The government of Botswana fearing backlash from China is understood to have rejected a request from Serêtsê Khama Ian Khama who served as the fourth President of country from April 1, 2008 to April 1, 2018, to visit Dharamsala, the exile headquarter of the Tibetan people, to take part in the Tibetan people’s 60th National Uprising Day.
While in office, unlike the current government, his administration stood against China’s intimidation and confirmed that they will receive the Dalai Lama in August 2017 as a ‘foreign dignitary’ despite Chinese objection.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has to later cancel the trip to Botswana due to exhaustion and on his physicians advise against undertaking long journeys.
To ensure that Tibet’s freedom struggle marches forward, the Kashag today officially declared 2019 as the “Year of Commitment.”