CTA’s International Tibet Youth Forum begins, disproportionate participants from India and abroad spark online discussion

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 18 July: A three-day International Tibet Youth Forum, titled “International Tibet Youth Forum: Empowering Voices and Inspiring Action for Tibet’s Future” organised by the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) opened today at the D’Polo Resort near here.

The president of CTA Penpa Tsering inaugurated the forum as the Chief Guest. Addressing the gathering, Sikyong said, “I have come here today with high hopes and joy.” 

He further expressed his hope that this conference would act as a bedrock for building a stronger advocacy and campaign for the Tibetan freedom movement in the future. 

In a pre-recorded video message to the participants pf the forum, His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “My message to you from here today is that the cause of Tibet is not only political. It’s also about establishing world peace by training the mind on the basis of reason.” 

“The new generation of Tibetan living in different parts of the world should never forget our own tradition of moral behaviour. Those living in India may not find this difficult, but those living in the West are also doing well to cherish and preserve our culture and traditions,” the Dalai Lama adds.

Additional Secretary of DIIR Tenzin Lekshey explained that 80 per cent of the participants are under the age of 35, with equal male and female ratio participants. 

“The members of V-TAG and Tibetans in general have the responsibility of advocating for the cause of Tibet,” Lekshey said and added that the participants will engage in discussions and deliberations at the forum and draft a  ‘Youth Declaration’ that will pave the way for future campaigns and advocacy of the Tibetan movement.

A wide range of topics covering the history of Tibet, the identity of Tibetans, Sino-Tibet dialogue and its future prospects, and advantageous changes in the West for Tibet’s cause – will be presented and discussed among the participants in three days. 

Seje Dorjee, a participant from Zurich, Switzerland said “I am not well aware of Tibet’s political situation. I have joined the forum to learn more and to connect with other Tibetans. So that, I can work for Tibet’s cause in future.”

Another participant at the forum said “I am Tashi Jeshong from Washington DC. My purpose for coming to this conference is to learn more about how we, the youths of Tibetan diaspora in various countries, can somehow work with CTA and Tibetan communities in India on certain causes together.”

With the key objectives of ‘empowering voices and inspiring action for Tibet’s future’, hundred-plus Tibetan youths from 16 different countries are participating in the convention. The majority of the participants are members of the Voluntary Tibetan Advocacy Group (V-TAG), an initiation of the 16th Kashag that aims to reinvigorate the existing advocacy campaigns for Tibet across the world.

It is estimated that over 70 per cent of the participants have come from abroad.

This has sparked some discussion online. The caricature of the forum by a Tibetan youth who goes by the username cactushashorns on Instagram is trending online. 

Digital creator cactushashorns’ caricature trending online. Image: screenshot from Instagram @cactushashorns.

“This Disproportionate number of participants from Chigyal, here at the Youth Forum, is because this is essentially an on-site dating event,” cactushashorn says in one of his caricatures.

What’s happening in Dhasa?  “We-Tag,” quipped another Tibetan on his Facebook story taking a sly dig as most of the participants are members of V-TAG from abroad. 

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