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27th Tibetan Shoton Festival Begins in Dharamshala, Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche Graces the Festival’s Inaugural

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Kyabje Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche addressing the gathering during the opening ceremony of the 27th Tibetan Shoton Festival. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

 The 27th annual Tibetan Shoton Festival (yoghurt festival) in exile kicked off today at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamshala to celebrate Tibetan opera from 10 – 22 April 2024.

By  —  BT NEWSDESK

Kyabje Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche Jetsun Tenzin Chokyi Gyaltsen graced the opening ceremony of the festival as chief guest, along with officiating Sikyong Tharlam Dolma Changra, Kalon (Minister) of the Department of Education, and Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang from the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.

Election and Public Service Commissioner Wangdue Tsering Pesur, Standing Committee Members and Dharamshala-based Parliamentarians of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, Secretaries and staff of the Central Tibetan Administration, Secretaries of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamshala Tibetan Settlement Officer, Members of Local Tibetan Assembly and Tibetan Freedom Movement, and representatives of the Tibetan NGOs and institutions also attended the festival’s inaugural.

Following a day-long display of each opera story’s preview from the participating troupes, chief guest Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche delivered a keynote speech. “Despite Tibet’s continued difficulties and the geographical separation of Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet, we should be proud of our capacity to host the Shoton Festival of this magnitude in exile, drawing ever-larger crowds of participants,” said Rinpoche while commending the members of opera troupes for their devotion and dedication to preserving the rich opera tradition of Tibet. The chief guest went on to say that it was His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s leadership that empowered the Tibetan people to preserve and honour their rich cultural heritages and hence advised all the Tibetans to remember the benevolence of His Holiness time and again and adhere to His noble guidance. Rinpoche further emphasised the collective efforts of every Tibetan in maintaining Tibet’s unique traditions, including Tibetan opera.

After concluding the address, Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche handed over a cheque of 1 Lakh rupees to each troupe group, a small contribution from the Department of Religion and Culture, CTA, for their sustenance.

Over the course of the 13-day Shoton Festival, Tibetan troupes from various settlements will present different Tibetan opera performances.

Access the Shoton Festival’s Program Schedule below:

Date Time Troupe Story
11 April 9.00 am Kalimpong and Odisha Opera Association Drowa Sangmo
12 April 9.00 am Nepal Opera Association Choegyal Drimey Kunden
13 April 9.00 am Chaksampa Opera Company Sukyi Nyima
14 April 9.00 am THF School Kenlop Chosum
15 April 9.00 am Mainpat Opera Association King Jigten Wangchuk
16 April 9.00 am Kollegal Opera Association Chungpo Dhonyo Dhondup
17 April 9.00 am Bylakuppe Opera Association Pema Woebar
18 April 9.00 am Bhandara Opera Association Chungpo Dhonyo Dhondup
19 April 9.00 am TCV Chauntra Mila Repa
20 April 9.00 am TCV Upper Sukyi Nyima
21 April 9.00 am Mundgod Opera Association Choegyal Norsang
22 April 9.00 am TIPA Dhepa Tenpa

Director of TIPA, Dhondup Tsering, delivering opening remarks on the first day of the 27th Tibetan Shoton Festival. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

Tibetan Parliamentarians and Secretaries of the Central Tibetan Administration observing a minute mourning for the sudden demise of Secretary Chime Tseyang. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

Officiating Sikyong Kalon Tharlam Dolma Changra and Election & Public Service Commissioner Wangdue Tsering Pesur seeking blessing from the Kyabje Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche upon the latter’s arrival. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang during the opening day of the 27th Tibetan Shoton Festival. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

A group of artists performing Ache Lhamo. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

Members of a troupe displaying their performance during the inaugural of Shoton Festival. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

Kyabje Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche delivering a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 27th Tibetan Shoton Festival. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

Kyabje Kundeling Tatsak Rinpoche presenting sustenance fund from Department of Religion and Culture to a representative of troupe. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

A school girl savouring yoghurt during the inaugural ceremony of the Tibetan Yoghurt Festival. Photo / Tenzin Jigme Taydeh / CTA

 

Most Venerable Dr Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Maha Nayaka Thero Presents Relics of Buddha to His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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Monks scattering flower petals lead the way as the relics of the Buddha are carried up the drive of the Main Tibetan Temple to offer to His Holiness the Dalai Lama waiting at the gate to his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 4, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

By  — BT NEWSDESK

A long-standing ambition of a group of Sri Lankan Buddhists led by the Most Venerable Dr. Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Maha Nayaka Thero, head of Amarapura Sambuddha Sasanodaya Maha Nikaya, and coordinated by Dr. Damenda Porage, Founder President of the Sri Lanka-Tibetan Buddhist Brotherhood in Sri Lanka, was fulfilled today. Accompanied by monks and lay supporters, the Most Venerable came to Dharamsala to present relics of the Buddha to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Following the Buddha’s passing away and the cremation of his mortal remains the relics that remained, fragments of bones and teeth, were divided among eight kingdoms and stupas were erected over them in Allakappa, Kapilavastu, Kushinagar, Pava, Rajagriha, Ramagrama, Vaishali, and Vethapida. During excavations at Piprahwa, which is identified with Kapilavastu, relics of the Buddha were discovered that had been enshrined by Shakyan relatives in Kapilavastu. In 1898, a British official, William Peppé made a gift of these relics to the erudite Sri Lankan monk, Most Venerable Waskaduwe Sri Subhuthi Mahanayake Thera, who brought them to Sri Lanka.

The Most Venerable and his party arrived this morning at Kangra airport and drove up from there to His Holiness’s residence. Groups of Tibetans, many holding silk scarves, flowers and incense in their hands, gathered by the side of the road from the lower reaches of Dharamsala town up to Mcleod Ganj to pay their respects. Large numbers of people gathered near the gate to Gangchen Kyishong and the Central Tibetan Administration and below the Tsuglagkhang, the Main Tibetan Temple. Both sides of the driveway to His Holiness’s residence were decorated with strings of Buddhist and Tibetan flags.

While artistes from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts sang and danced in celebration, His Holiness sat on chair outside the gate to his residence to greet the relics, the Most Venerable and his party as they arrived. Monks from Namgyal Monastery staged a formal welcome playing horns, strewing the path with flower petals and holding a yellow, silk parasol over the portable reliquary. His Holiness stood to welcome his guests and paid his first respects to the relics. He then drove with the Maha Nayaka Thero up to his meeting room where they and the delegation sat together.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Most Venerable Dr. Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Maha Nayaka Thero riding a golf cart to the meeting room at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 4, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

The Venerable Samdhong Rinpoché, Ling Rinpoché, Kirti Rinpoché and Sikyong Penpa Tsering joined the meeting.

“We, members of the Sri Lankan Mahasangha appreciate your service to the world,” the Most Venerable Dr. Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Maha Nayaka Thero told His Holiness. “Teaching the world loving-kindness is one of the Buddha’s accomplishments. You too are doing what the Buddha did. We have metta for everyone. Cultivating warm-heartedness is what the Dharma is about. We are all human beings, which is why we love all human beings.

“We pray for your good health and long life and offer these relics to you.”

His Holiness respectfully touched his bowed head to the portable reliquary as the Sri Lankan party chanted auspicious verses.

“It seems that since the time of the Buddha interest in his teaching has grown around the world,” His Holiness told them. “The Nalanda Tradition utilizes human intelligence. I’ve met scientists who take an interest in what the Buddha taught, not out of faith, but on the basis of reason. They also take a genuine interest in what the teaching of the Buddha reveals about human psychology.

“Many years ago, when I met Chairman Mao Zedong he praised my scientific turn of mind but warned me that religion is poison. I think that if he could see the interest scientists show in Buddhism today, he would consider becoming a Buddhist himself. This is because the Buddha’s teaching takes a scientific approach.

“I respect all religious traditions, but it’s Buddhism in particular that employs reason. This is why we are able to hold our own in discussions with scientists. I’ve met scientists who were initially sceptical about religion in general who eventually became Buddhists.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with the delegation that came to offer the relic of the Buddha at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 4, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Now, on a practical level, the world needs peace and that’s the core of the Buddha’s message. However, I’m prepared not to mention Buddhism as such but to emphasize secular ethics and universal values crucial among which is compassion. The important thing is to have a warm heart. Consequently, I’m committed to encouraging people to cultivate loving-kindness. What I want to convey is that I’m fully committed to promoting the Buddha’s message from a secular point of view. What do you think?”

“It’s a good way to approach the future,” Maha Nayaka Thero replied.

“The world needs peace,” His Holiness continued. “Our experience of peace begins when we’re born, and we bask in our mother’s kindness and affection. This is our introduction to peace of mind. It’s this that sows a natural seed of compassion within us. We receive a clear lesson in love and compassion right from the start of our lives. Our experience of our mother’s love and compassion has a deep influence on us all. Having been nurtured in this way, it’s important to keep these feelings alive and to act on them throughout our lives.”

As the meeting came to an end, the visitors approached His Holiness one by one to pay their respects personally. In response, His Holiness first offered a statue of the Buddha and a Dharmachakra to Most Venerable Dr. Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Maha Nayaka Thero to be installed in his monastery and then gave him another smaller statue for his personal use. Next he offered a statue of the Buddha to each of the other monks and lay people in the party. Photographs were taken that record this historic occasion.

(Media Statement from Most Ven Dr Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Mahanayake Thero can be viewed here.)

Members of the delegation that offered a relic of the Buddha pose with for a photo with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 4, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

I am in good health” says Dalai Lama during long life prayer ceremony

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation during the Long Life Prayer at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 3, 2024 (Photo/Ven. Tenzin Jamphel)

By Tenzin Nyidon

The foremost Tibetan leader and spiritual figure, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was offered Long life Prayer (Tenshug) on Wednesday morning by the Toepa Association and people of Purang at the Thekchen Choeling Tsuglagkhang temple in Dharamshala.

The Long Life Prayer ceremony featured devout offerings to the reincarnation of Avalokiteśvara (Chenrezig), the bodhisattva synonymous with boundless compassion, alongside the visualisation of the White Tara. Guided and overseen by Ling Rinpoche, the ceremony garnered participation from esteemed lamas representing different schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Among them were the two reincarnation of Trulshik Rinpoche, the Abbot of Sera-mé, the Lobpön of Namgyal Monastery and Bodong Rinpoché, the Abbot of Drepung Loseling and the Abbot of Tawang, Kundeling Rinpoche , and Gyalstab Rinpoche. Their collective presence in the ceremony underscored the earnest supplication for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s enduring health and longevity.

Tenshug, or the Long Life Prayer, embodies a Buddhist ritual of beseeching and extending heartfelt wishes for the sustained well-being of one’s spiritual guide or the embodiment of enlightenment, ensuring their continued guidance and inspiration for all sentient beings.

Addressing the devotees, the octogenarian leader expressed gratitude to the organisers for offering the Tenshug upon him. During his address, the Dalai Lama once again reassured the Tibetans and his followers of his “good health.” “Despite my advancing age, I anticipate living for another 15 to 20 years, as confirmed by my recent health check-up with my physician.” The egalitarian leader’s words were met with resounding applause and warm welcomes from the jubilant crowd, embracing the prospect of continued guidance and presence.

The ceremony this morning was also attended by hundreds of Tibetans, and the top rung of the exile Tibetan government including Sikyong Penpa Tsering, members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and officials.

Tibetan artist urges parliament to safeguard the dignity of the national flag

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Tsewang Dorjee (in blue) distributing envelope to ministers and MPs outside the Tibetan Parliament in Exile(Phayul photo)

By Tsering Dhundup

 During the ongoing budget session of the Tibetan parliament in Exile on Wednesday, Tsewang Dorjee, a Thangka artist residing in Dharamshala, distributed documents to ministers and members of Parliament which proposed a bill aimed at safeguarding the dignity of the Tibetan National flag.

Dorjee’s advocacy for such legislation, which seeks to prevent any disrespect towards the Tibetan flag during official and unofficial ceremonies, had begun back to 2011.

Addressing the media, Dorjee stated, “The main reason for my advocacy is to urge people to refrain from using the Tibetan flag on t-shirts and products. I implore Tibetan parliamentarians to introduce a bill banning the commercial use of the Tibetan flag to protect its dignity.”

Highlighting a recent incident during the parliamentary session amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Dorjee expressed concern over some parliamentarians wearing masks with the Tibetan flag. “I immediately sent a letter to the parliament requesting that no one be allowed to wear masks featuring the Tibetan flag. Such actions constitute a violation of the sanctity of our flag,” Dorjee said, adding that the flag also carries religious significance and symbolisms.

Dorjee further stated, “ I am a thanka artist, and as His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) says, every Tibetan has responsibility, my responsibility is to safeguard the Tibetan culture”.

Beyond his efforts within the parliamentary sphere, Dorjee has also taken steps to raise awareness among younger generations. He disclosed, “I have visited numerous schools, advocating for and spreading awareness on the significance of upholding the Tibetan flag. I’ve urged children to educate their families about the importance of refraining from selling products bearing the Tibetan flag.”

A Delegation of Peace and Harmony Visit Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile

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A Delegation of Peace and Harmony Visit Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

By  —  BT NEWSDESK

Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang convened a meeting with the delegation of Peace and Harmony led by Shri Bibuti Kumar Mishra, the National President of Akhil Bharat Rachanatmak Samaj, on March 21, 2024. The delegation received a comprehensive briefing on the evolution, functioning, and composition of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

Against the backdrop of global conflicts and environmental degradation in the name of progress, the Deputy Speaker emphasised the organisation’s pivotal role in fostering peace, harmony, and stability worldwide during the meeting with the Peace and Harmony delegation.

Drawing attention to the dire environmental situation in Tibet, the Deputy Speaker elucidated on the imperative of harmony, emphasising its significance not only among individuals but also between humanity and the environment while highlighting the unchecked exploitation of the Tibetan plateau and the crucial significance of Tibet’s environment and its rivers, which flow into countries across South East Asia, including India. She urged the visiting guests to advocate for resolving the Sino-Tibetan conflict, raise the significance of Tibet’s environment in their future endeavours, and emphasised the crucial role of women in uplifting society.

The visiting delegation had the opportunity to observe the proceedings of the ongoing session, where they were warmly welcomed by the assembly.

Shri Bibhuti Kumar Mishra serves as the National President of Akhil Bharat Rachnatmak Samaj (ABRS) in New Delhi. The organisation, founded by the Gandhian social worker Padma Vibhushan Dr. Nirmala Deshpande, former MP (RS), aims to promote peace and communal harmony globally.

Shri Bibhuti Kumar Mishra initiated a yearlong Peace and Harmony Journey starting from the auspicious day of July 6, 2023, the birth anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with a nationwide tree plantation drive. He has been actively involved in the Tibetan cause through Akhil Bharat Rachanatmak Samaj.

The organisation focuses on empowering socially disadvantaged youth and is also the founder of the Mahila Prabodhini Foundation in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. This foundation is dedicated to the socio-economic development of rural women, particularly those from marginalised communities.

Filed by Tibetan Parliamentary Secretariat

Compassion in Action: a Conversation about Leadership

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Compassion in Action: a Conversation about Leadership

-by dalailama.com

Chancellor of the University of Colarado, Philipa P Distefano, opening the meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and young leaders taking part in the Dalai Lama Fellows program along with accompanying guests at His Holiness’s residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 20, 2024. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

By  — BT NEWSDESK

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India, 20 March 2024: This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with fourteen young leaders taking part in the Dalai Lama Fellows program and an accompanying group of invited guests. The Dalai Lama Fellows is a unique one-year leadership program for emerging social-change-makers that is designed to integrate contemplative work and intentional personal transformation with efforts to bring about positive change in their respective communities.

As soon as His Holiness had taken his seat in the meeting room the Chancellor of the University of Colarado, Philipa P Distefano, opened proceedings. He told His Holiness that he had come with friends and colleagues to share a conversation on compassionate leadership. He reminded His Holiness that the University of Colarado had hosted him in Boulder in 2016 and that they had engaged in a further virtual conversation in October 2021.

“It’s a joy to be with you and Dalai Lama Fellows from the University of Colorado, Stanford University and the University of Virginia,” he remarked. “This is an opportunity to shape tomorrow’s leaders.”

As part of her introduction, Moderator Sona Dimidjian told His Holiness that his advice had been a guide to her work in psychology and neuroscience and to her family.

Moderator Sona Dimidjian delivering her introduction during the meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and young leaders taking part in the Dalai Lama Fellows program along with accompanying guests at His Holiness’s residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 20, 2024. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“We seek your guidance again,” she told him, “for these young people who, looking out to the world see competition and conflict, war and suffering. And when they look inward, they see suffering, sorrow and despair.

“Since the Dalai Lama Fellows program was launched in 2004 more than 200 Fellows from 50 countries have taken part. They wish to put your teachings into action, combining an inward and outward focus to bring about change in the world. Their hearts are open.”

Dimidjian reported that when she reached the gate to His Holiness’s residence this morning, she found the group of Dalai Lama Fellows singing together as they waited to enter. This served as a prompt for them to break into song once more as they chanted, “Open my heart, open my heart, let it overflow with love.” Dimidjian then asked His Holiness if he had a few words for them about how they could put compassion into action.

“First,” he replied, “I want to tell you how happy I am to be meeting with you here. Basically we have all been born of a mother and received maximum affection from her. It’s a natural response, we see other animals do this too. It’s an experience we all share in common, and it means we are all essentially the same. We survive because of our mother’s kindness. This is something very important to remember.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to young leaders taking part in the Dalai Lama Fellows program along with accompanying guests at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 20, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

“While we’re still young, the sense of our mother’s affection remains vivid within us, but as we grow up and go to school, it begins to decline. How much better it would be if we could keep our appreciation of her kindness fresh and alive until we die? One way to do this is to make an effort to nurture a sense of compassion and warm-heartedness.

“Wherever I go and whoever I meet, I smile and greet them warmly. That’s how everyone becomes my friend. The key thing is to be warm-hearted towards others. I believe warm-heartedness is part of our very nature. It brings about peace of mind and attracts friends. Our mother’s real gift to us is her smile and her affectionate warm-heartedness.”

Sona Dimidjian mentioned that she was excited to introduce seven Dalai Lama Fellows who, in pairs, would put questions to His Holiness. The Fellows were Khang Nguyen from Vietnam and Damilola Fasoranti from Nigeria/ Rwanda; Mansi Kotak from Kenya and Serene Singh from the United Kingdom; Brittanie Richardson from Kenya/ USA and Shrutika Silswal from India, as well as Anthony Demauro from USA. They asked him what they could do to promote a recognition of human values, shared and universal. They sought his advice about how to inspire others to choose service and the care of others as a way of life. They wanted to know how to employ compassion as a leader when feeling angry and frustrated and they enquired how to resist injustice while maintaining compassion even for oppressors.

Young leaders taking part in the Dalai Lama Fellows program asking His Holiness the Dalai Lama a question during their meeting at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 20, 2024. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“If we were to keep the basic sense of affection that we received from our mother alive,” His Holiness replied, “there’d be no reason to quarrel with anyone. However, instead of thinking about what we have in common with other people, we tend to focus on the differences between us.

“Wherever I go, I think of myself as just another human being and I smile. I don’t think of myself as the Dalai Lama and somehow separate. And whenever I meet someone new, I feel they are just like me. We may have different names and our skin or hair may be a different colour, but these are just secondary differences.

“I just see other people I meet as human beings, as brothers and sisters. I don’t dwell on the differences between us, I think about the ways in which we’re the same. When I was very young, living in North-east Tibet, I played with the neighbouring children. I responded to them just as children like me. It was only later that I realized incidentally that many of them came from Muslim families and that my family was Buddhist.

“The essential thing we have to remember is that, when it comes down to it, we are all the same as human beings. Sometimes we forget our basic human values, our generosity and sense of kindness, because we let prejudice or negative discrimination take over. Whatever our religion, culture or ethnicity, at a fundamental level we are the same in being human. Thinking too much about being ‘Dalai Lama’ sets me apart from others, when I’m much more concerned with our common humanity.

“As I’ve already said, young children are just open and friendly. They don’t discriminate between themselves and others. It’s only when they grow older that they become aware of ways in which we are different. And the risk is that this leads to conflict. The way to balance this out is to think about how we are all the same. This is what we must remind ourselves. At a fundamental level we have to acknowledge the oneness of humanity, that in being human we are just like each other. Our faces have two eyes, one nose and a mouth.

A view of the hall during the meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and young leaders taking part in the Dalai Lama Fellows program along with accompanying guests at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 20, 2024. Photo by Ven Tenzin Jamphel

“The fact that people of different colour, nationality and so on can procreate and give birth to viable, fertile, healthy children confirms that as human beings we are fundamentally the same.

“We do have different, complementary identities, for example I’m Tibetan, I’m a monk and I have the name Dalai Lama, but the most important point is that I’m a human being.

“We are social beings, we make connections with each other, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to stop us allowing conflicts to develop. However, one of the benefits of internalizing a sense of the oneness of humanity, the conviction that as human beings we are all the same, is that it makes us more relaxed.”

Sona Dimidjian thanked His Holiness for welcoming the group and sharing his wisdom with them. She invited Vijay Khatri to make some closing remarks.

“This week has been transformational,” he began. “As the saying goes, ‘The mind is not just a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.’ We have engaged with you and learned from you about compassion and warm-heartedness and we thank you for this kind gift.”

“As I mentioned earlier,” His Holiness responded, “when we’re very young we play with other children without any prejudice or suspicion between us. This kind of open, even-handed attitude is what we must preserve. We see each other in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and this can lead to conflict. This is why it’s useful to regularly remind ourselves how much we have in common and that those we regard as ‘them’, not ‘us’, are human beings too.”

Sona Dimidjian wished His Holiness a peaceful, joyful day and told him the group looked forward to seeing him again tomorrow.

Vijay Khatri delivering his closing remarks during the meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and young leaders taking part in the Dalai Lama Fellows program along with accompanying guests at His Holiness’s residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 20, 2024. Photo by Ven Zamling Norbu

New resolution on Tibet introduced in the US House

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Left to Right: Representatives Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, and Representative Young Kim, R-California (Photo/Tibet post international)

By Tsering Dhundup

Dharamshala, March 15: A new resolution has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives titled “Recognizing the 65th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day of March 10, 1959, and condemning human rights violations related to the hydropower dam construction project in Derge”. The resolution that condemns China’s mass arrest of peaceful Tibetan protestors and reaffirms the support for Tibetan self-determination was introduced by Representatives Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, and Young Kim, R-California, on Monday, March 11.

The resolution acknowledges the historical events surrounding the Tibetan Uprising Day, particularly the efforts of Tibetan people who formed a human barricade around the Dalai Lama’s residence to protect him from Chinese troops in 1959. Additionally, it acknowledges the recent protests in Derge County, eastern Tibet, against a hydropower dam project that would displace residents and destroy Buddhist monasteries.

Rep. McGovern said: “It’s been 65 years since His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was forced to flee as the People’s Republic of China forcibly took control of Tibet. Every day since, the Tibetan people have been defending their human rights and fighting for their self-determination. The PRC must comply with its laws and its international human rights obligations, and stop oppressing Tibetans.”

Rep. Kim said: “The Tibetan people have suffered the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression and control for 70 years, and the CCP shows no signs of slowing down until it has erased Tibetan culture. The freedom-loving people of Tibet deserve our support. I’m proud to join Rep. McGovern in a bipartisan call to stand with the Tibetan people and urge the Biden administration to enforce laws in place to hold the CCP accountable.”

The resolution reaffirms the House’s support for Tibetan human rights and condemns China’s efforts to erase Tibetan cultural identity, particularly by condemning projects like the hydropower dam project in Derge. It demands the immediate release of protestors and prisoners of conscience, along with apologies and redress for rights violations.

Additionally, it calls on the Biden administration to urge China to halt the dam project and respect Tibetan input into development projects.

This resolution adds to previous Congressional actions supporting Tibet, including the passage of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018 and the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020. The House also recently passed the Resolve Tibet Act, aimed at pushing China to negotiate peacefully with Tibetan leaders to resolve the conflict in Tibet.

CTA Commemorates 65th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day

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By  —  BT NEWSDESK

The dignitaries arriving at the venue. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Dharamshala: Tibetans in Dharamshala, led by the CTA leadership, gathered at the Tsuglagkhang courtyard on 10 March 2024 to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, a historic moment marking Tibetans’ resistance to Chinese occupation, which tragically resulted in the deaths of hundreds of protesters.

The commemoration event was attended by German MP Michael Karl Brand, an Australian parliamentary delegation including Senator Dean Anthony Smith, Senator Deborah Mary O’Neill, MP Michael McCormack, MP David Smith, the CTA leadership, Secretaries of various departments, CTA staff, section heads, heads of NGOs, and the general public.

The official program commenced with the Sikyong hoisting the Tibetan national flag, accompanied by the singing of the Tibetan national anthem by artists from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.

Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and Sikyong Penpa Tsering read out statements from the Tibetan Parliament in Exile and Kashag, respectively.

Chief guest German MP Michael Karl Brand spoke of the similarities between formerly divided Germany and Tibetans under CCP rule, expressing hope for Tibetans’ reunification, much like Germany’s.

Australian Senator Deborah Mary O’Neill emphasised her solidarity with Tibetans, stressing the importance of freedom for all. She stated, “Fundamental to the peace we hope for is the securing of freedom, both the freedom to and freedom for. Freedom to think, speak, sing, dance, and tell your history in writing, in the language of your people.” She assured the gathering that Australians would continue to raise concerns for Tibetans in Tibet.

Similarly, Senator Dean Anthony Smith, MP Michael McCormack, and MP David Smith extended their support to the Tibetan cause, receiving applause and appreciation from the gathered Tibetans.

The ceremony concluded with the recitation of prayers for the martyrs.

Read the statements from Kashag and Tibetan Parliament here.

Sikyong Penpa Tsering hoisting Tibetan National Flag. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Speaker addressing the gathering. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Sikyong addressing the gathering. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Senator Deborah O’Neill addressing the gathering. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

MP Michael McCormack. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

MP David Smith. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Senator Dean Smith. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

German MP Michael Brand. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Members of the Tibetan Parliament. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Secretaries of the CTA departments. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

CTA staff and the general public at the commemoration event. Photo/Tenzin Jigme/CTA

Turkish police detain six for spying on Uyghurs for China

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Photo/BNN

By Tsering Dhundup

  Turkish authorities have detained six individuals in Istanbul on suspicion of spying on prominent Uyghur figures for China, with an ongoing search for another suspect, as reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency.

The detainees are accused of surveillance on Uyghur-related individuals, associations and institutions, purportedly passing gathered intelligence to Chinese authorities. The arrests came after an investigation spearheaded by the Terrorism and Organized Crime Bureau of the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office, Anadolu reported.

Specific details such as the timing of the arrests and the nationalities of the suspects were not disclosed in the initial report. However, the local newspaper Sabah claimed that all individuals in question were foreigners.

Turkey is home to a significant Uyghur population, estimated at around 50,000, representing the largest diaspora of Uyghurs outside Central Asia. The Turkish-Uyghur connection is underscored by shared ethnic, linguistic, and religious ties, fostering considerable sympathy among Turkish authorities and the populace toward the struggles faced by Uyghurs in China’s East Turkestan (Chinese: Xinjiang).

Despite the sympathy, Turkey has been navigating a delicate foreign policy balancing act, seeking to maintain relations with both Western allies and China. While supportive of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Turkey has resisted Beijing’s pressures to extradite Uyghur individuals to China. An extradition treaty between Turkey and China was signed in 2017, yet it is yet to be ratified by the Turkish parliament since 2019.

Chinese authorities have faced scrutiny for their transnational repression tactics, notably targeting exiled Tibetan communities outside Tibet. Tactics include leveraging relatives within Tibet through coercion or intimidation, as well as maintaining a pervasive surveillance apparatus that fosters a sense of constant apprehension among exiled groups, undermining trust and unity within diaspora communities.

The recent arrests in Istanbul shed light on the broader issue of transnational repression and the challenges faced by ethnic minority groups such as the Uyghurs and Tibetans in their struggle for freedom and rights beyond China’s borders.

China imposes lockdown on seven monasteries in Kham Dege

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Wontod Monastery in eastern Tibet’s Kham Dege (Photo/X)

By Tenzin Nyidon

Chinese authorities have imposed lockdown on seven monasteries situated along the two banks of eastern Tibet’s Drichu River in Kham Dege, reported Radio Free Asia, which cited a local Tibetan source from the region.

The seven monasteries restricted by the lockdown, include Wontod, Yena, and Khardho monasteries on the east bank of the river in Dege, and Rabten, Gonsar, Tashi, and Pharok monasteries on the west bank of the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Entry and exit in these monasteries have been severely restricted, with clamp down on movement and communication channels in the county.

Over February 22-23, more than 1,000 monks and local Tibetans were reportedly arrested following petitions and protests since February 14, urging authorities to halt a proposed construction of a massive dam project. While approximately 40 monks were released on February 26 and 27, the majority remain under arrest, undergoing brutal treatment.

The released individuals were primarily from Wontod Monastery, as reported by local Tibetan sources. These individuals have reportedly been warned against communicating with exile Tibetans and giving out information on the incident. Sources suggest that international media coverage of the mass arrests played a significant role in prompting the release of some Tibetans. Monks who required hospitalisation due to severe interrogation beatings were allowed to return to their monastery.

The construction of the Chinese Gangtuo Hydropower Station, planned for the upper reaches of the Drichu River in Tibet, poses grave threat to numerous Tibetan monasteries and villages nearby. This cascade hydropower station, deemed a “leading” project, endangers at least six Tibetan monasteries and two villages inhabited by Tibetan communities. Among those at risk of complete submersion due to the project is Wontod Monastery, established in the 14th century and known for its historical importance and remarkable Tibetan Buddhist murals and artworks.