Tibet Awareness – Not Part of China
TIBET NOT PART OF CHINA – ARUNACHAL PRADESH CHIEF MINISTER
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu reveals the truth about Tibet’s military occupation. Red China’s military occupation of Tibet cannot wipe out reality of Tibetan nation.
Indian Defence News
Thursday, April 06, 2017
INDIA SHARES BOUNDARY WITH TIBET, NOT WITH CHINA: ARUNACHAL PRADESH CHIEF MINISTER
ARUNACHAL PRADESH Chief Minister Pema Khandu today said China has no business telling India what to do regarding the Dalai Lama’s movement in the country.
“China has no business telling us what to do and what not to do (regarding the Dalai Lama’s movement). It is not our next-door neighbor. India shares boundary with Tibet, not with China,” he told reporters here.
“In reality, the McMahon Line demarcated the boundary between India and Tibet,” he said.
Khandu, who accompanied the Dalai Lama during an eight-hour-long drive from Guwahati to Bomdila yesterday, said it was a brave decision on the part of the Tibetan spiritual leader to undertake the arduous trip.
“He wanted to reach Tawang anyhow and the weather could not deter him. Let us hope that his followers here get satisfaction from his discourses,” he said.
The Nobel laureate, he said, was the country’s most respected guest since 1959 and Arunachal Pradesh deserves his visit more than any other place.
This is the Dalai Lama’s sixth visit to Arunachal Pradesh as a state guest since 1983 and he has been to Tawang every time except in December 1996.
His last visit in 2009 was planned exactly 50 years after he had crossed through Arunachal Pradesh, then North East Frontier Agency, after escaping from Lhasa.
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA LIVES IN EXILE TO DEFEND FREEDOM IN TIBET
Since March 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Supreme Ruler of Tibet is living in exile not to defend his own life but to defend Freedom in Occupied Tibet. After 58 years of life in exile, Tibetans hope to restore Freedom, Peace, Justice in Tibet. Tibet’s military occupation since 1950 cannot obliterate the reality of long history of Tibetan Independence.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama Arrives Safely in Tenzingang, Bomdila
April 4, 2017
By Staff Writer
His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrives in Tenzingang Tibetan settlement in Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh, 4 April 2017. Photo/Yasmina K.
Bomdila: The most revered spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived safely in Tenzingang Tibetan settlement, Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh today on 4 April 2017.
His Holiness was received by Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu, MLA, Japu Deru and Phurpa Tsering, West Kameng District Commissioner Dr Sonal Swaroop and former minister and National Convener of Core group for Tibetan cause-India, Mr. R K Khrimey and other important dignitaries.
Members of Tibetan community in Bomdila gave a rousing welcome to His Holiness as he arrived in his motorcade this afternoon.
Tomorrow, His Holiness will give a teaching and confer a White Tara Long Life Empowerment (drolkar tsewang) in the morning at the Buddha Park, Teaching in Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh.
On 6 April, His Holiness will give teachings in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh. His Holiness will give teachings on Geshe Langri Thangpa’s Eight Verses of Training the Mind & Guru Yoga and confer the Avalokiteshvara Permission in the morning at Thupsung Dhargyeling Monastery.
From 8 – 10 April, His Holiness will confer teachings in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.
On April 8 & 9 mornings, His Holiness will give teachings on Kamalashila’s The Middling States of Meditation & Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo’s Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva at Yiga Choezin.
On April 10 morning, His Holiness will confer the Rigzin Dongdup Initiation at Yiga Choezin.
Local Tibetans in Bomdila organize a traditional welcome for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 4 April 2017.
Tibetans and ardent followers welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Tenzingang, Bomdila. Photo/Soulful tours
TIBET AWARENESS – SUPREME RULER OF TIBET FORCED TO LIVE IN EXILE
After Communist China’s military invasion of Tibet during 1950-51, both India and Tibet earnestly tried to resolve the crisis using peaceful negotiations. China took full military advantage of India’s inability to use military force to neutralize China’s Military Expansionism. India, and Tibet obtained limited assistance from the United States to counter China’s military conquest of Tibet. Futility of their efforts became apparent in March 1959 when China killed thousands of innocent Tibetan civilians who organized massive protest on 13th March to defend their Supreme Ruler.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Supreme Ruler of Tibet is currently visiting Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. He had an emotional Reunion with Assam Rifles guard Naren Chandra Das on Sunday, April 02, in Guwahati.
Dalai Lama’s emotional reunion with guard who aided flight from Tibet
Buddhist leader meets Naren Chandra Das 58 years after he escorted him in India after his escape from Chinese authorities
MICHAEL SAFI in Delhi
Monday 3 April 2017
The first time they met, Indian paramilitary guard Naren Chandra Das was ordered not to talk to the bespectacled young soldier he was escorting near the Chinese border in a top-secret mission.
Nearly 60 years later, Das was reunited with the Dalai Lama in an emotional ceremony that recalled the Buddhist leader’s escape from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese authorities.
This time the Dalai Lama had the first word. “Looking at your face, I now realize I must be very old too,” he told Das, 79, at a ceremony on Sunday in the north-eastern city of Guwahati.
The ceremony is likely to fuel anger in Beijing over the Dalai Lama’s tour of north-east India, including Arunachal Pradesh, a border state with areas that China regards as its own territory.
The Dalai Lama said: ‘Looking at your face, I now realize I must be very old too,’ on meeting Naren Chandra Das again. Photograph: Biju Boro/AFP/Getty Images
It has warned India that the tour by the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing calls an “anti-China separatist”, will do serious damage to ties between the two Asian powers.
In Guwahati on Sunday the Dalai Lama – who denies seeking Tibetan independence – remembered the “warm-hearted” welcome he received in India after a 13-day trek through the Himalayas to escape the Chinese army.
“The days prior to my arrival in India were filled with tension and the only concern was safety, but I experienced freedom when I was received warm-heartedly by the people and officials and a new chapter began in my life,” he said.
The Dalai Lama fled his Lhasa palace in March 1959 when he was 23 after years of tension between Tibetans and the Chinese government erupted into popular rebellion.
Disguised as a Chinese soldier, he and members of his cabinet slipped out of the palace and trekked by night through mountains and across the 500-metre (1,640feet) Brahmaputra river to reach the Indian border.
The Dalai Lama and his escape party cross the Zsagola pass, in southern Tibet on 21 March 1959, while being pursued by Chinese military forces. The 23-year-old Dalai Lama is aboard the white horse. Photograph: HG/Associated Press
Until he appeared in India, some observers feared the Dalai Lama had been among the estimated 2,000 people killed when the Chinese crushed the uprising.
India offered him asylum and a home base in the hill town of Dharamsala, where he was permitted to set up a government-in-exile. About 80,000 Tibetan refugees soon joined him in the Himalayan town.
China argues the 1959 rebellion was the work of wealthy landowners bent on maintaining feudal rule, and that its “peaceful liberation” of the mountainous region has brought development and prosperity.
The Chinese foreign ministry on Monday reiterated its objection to the Dalai Lama’s tour of the border states, saying it was “resolutely opposed to any country’s support and facilitation for the 14th Dalai group’s anti-China separatist activities”.
Chinese anger over India’s role in sheltering the Dalai Lama was one of the factors that led to a brief war between the two countries in 1962. Cross-border incursions by Chinese troops are regularly reported and border areas of the state are highly militarized.
From the archive, 1 April 1959: Paratroops join hunt for Dalai Lama
Manchester Guardian, 1 April 1959: The Chinese were yesterday using planes and some fifty thousand troops to search the Tibetan mountain passes for the Dalai Lama
Like past Indian leaders, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has maintained an official policy of treating the Dalai Lama as an “honored guest” in the country, inviting him to meet the Indian president in December – another event that drew Chinese condemnation.
India and Tibet share close cultural and religious ties and the Dalai Lama has regularly affirmed India’s sovereignty over the entirety of Arunachal Pradesh, including areas the Chinese government labels “south Tibet”.
Tibet remains under the tight control of the Chinese government and possessing pictures of the Dalai Lama or his writings is illegal.
On Sunday, the Dalai Lama appeared to whisper something to Das as the pair embraced during ceremony. Asked afterwards what the Buddhist leader had told him, Das said: “He was happy to see me.”
DOOMED HUMAN RIGHTS IN OCCUPIED TIBET – NO SAFE PLACE TO LIVE
During its long history, Tibet came under foreign conquest by Mongol Empire and Manchu or Qing Empire which ruled over China. But, Tibetans never lost their traditional independent lifestyle.
Tibet declared full independence on February 13, 1913 and existed as fully independent national entity until founding of Evil Red Empire on October 01, 1949 by China’s Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong. Red China’s brutal occupation transformed Tibet into Military Camp leaving no safe place for Tibetans to live.
For all practical purposes, Communist Dictator Mao Zedong is alive as his brutal, military occupation of Tibet survived his death in December 1976 which may have marked the end of Red China’s Cultural Revolution.
Ann Arbor, MI, USA 48104-4162.
Where is human rights in Tibet?
December 8, 2016, 11:07 pm IST YOUDON AUKATSANG in Echoes from the Himalayas TOI
We celebrate December 10 as the Human Rights Day to commemorate adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the UN General Assembly in 1948. This was a ground-breaking achievement because it was the first time in history that all Member States of the United Nations pledged to work together to promote the thirty Articles of human rights that was enshrined in the document.
This year’s Human Rights Day slogan Stand up for Someone’s Rights Today reaffirms common humanity and universality of humane values. It convinces us that whoever, whatever, whenever and wherever we are, we can make a difference. Each of us has the potential to make a difference in our own unique ways using a medium that comes easiest to us.
The Declaration reminds each one of us to stand up against human rights violations wherever it occurs, in a remote country, in our region, country or even at home.
This day has an added significance for Tibetans. We fondly remember the day as the Nobel Peace Prize Day as it was on this day in 1989 that HH the Dalai Lama was conferred with the Nobel Peace Prize. With this award, the international community not only recognized the commitment of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to non-violence and peace but also applauded his middle way approach and his efforts at resolving the issue of Tibet through dialogue with China.
United Nations did recognize the right to self-determination of the Tibetans and called for respect of basic human rights of Tibetans in the aftermath of Tibetan National Uprising and the coming into exile in India of HH the Dalai Lama in 1959. In fact, there were two other UN General Assembly resolutions in 1961 and 1965 condemning continued human rights violations of Tibetans. Since then, the corridors of UN General Assembly have been silent on Tibet except for rare references made during the Human Rights Council Sessions.
The international community has made out the issue of Tibet to be an issue of human rights. But for Tibetans, it is more critical than human rights violations. The issue of Tibet is about ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide. In fact, the report of ICJ which formed the basis for the UN resolutions on Tibet affirms it as early as 1959 and mentions that “acts of genocide had been committed”, and that “Tibet was at the very least a de facto independent State” before its annexation by the Chinese government in 1951.
The Tibet crisis has continued unabated since the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Chinese state machinery clamps down on Tibetan religion, culture and language which forms the bedrock of Tibetan identity. Tibetans are arrested and imprisoned for celebrating religious festivals such as Saka Dawa or HH the Dalai Lama’s birthday.
Of the many ongoing campaigns enforced in Tibet by the Chinese regime, the most pervasive is “Patriotic education” aimed at strengthening ties between the public and the Communist Party and denouncing the Dalai Lama and “splittist forces”. According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Work Teams are formed under this campaign to cover every section of society including farmers, schools, monastic institutions and general populace.
Under the guise of this campaign, Chinese authorities interfere in the daily lives and religious practices of Tibetans. Influential Tibetans in various strata of the society particularly those with following are targeted and arrested under false allegations. Ceilings are imposed on number of monks and nuns in the monasteries and nunneries.
Recent news of demolition of Larung Gar Institute, one of the largest centers of Buddhist learning in Serthar County in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province is the most current evidence of religious repression in Tibet. Demolitions are being carried out in line with the order given by the Chinese authorities to cut the number of residents by half to 5000. Central Tibetan Administration has urged UNHCR and the international community to save Larung Gar.
With no freedom to express your identity and the shrinking space for dissent under the Chinese rule, Tibetans have resorted to self-immolation the most extreme form of protesting Chinese repression. The most recent case of self-immolation of an unidentified person was reported on December 8 at 5 pm local time in Machu county, Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. This has taken the reported cases of self-immolations to 145.
The world can no longer afford to remain a silent spectator, it needs to stand up for the rights of Tibetans in Tibet and urge China to have a dialogue with the representatives of HH the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue of Tibet.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Youdon Aukatsang is currently serving her third term as an elected member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPIE). She is also the Director of Empowering . . .
Youdon Aukatsang is currently serving her third term as an elected member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPIE). She is also the Director of Empowering . . .
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TIBET – THE BURNING QUESTION
Tibetans have celebrated His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday. In recent times, Tibetans have displayed a sense of restraint as they share a sense of optimism about ‘The Burning Question’ that occupies their minds. Red China’s military occupation is ‘The Burning Question’ and international community is willing to take up this issue as they confront Red China’s Maritime Expansionism.
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Tibetans, Do Not Burn Thyselves July 15, 2016
Tibetans aren’t self-immolating as much anymore. Isn’t that a good thing?
One afternoon in 2009, a monk holding his national flag lit himself on fire — and ignited a raging conflagration in one of the most muffled parts of the world: Tibetans burning themselves in protest of Chinese occupation. More than 140 Tibetans burned themselves in protest over the ensuing years, advocacy groups say. The youngest was 15.
The burnings peaked in 2012, but they could easily return in a climate where suicide bombers otherwise hold the franchise on self-harm as public protest. No, I’m not comparing self-immolation, which is by nature a solely self-harming physical act, to violent jihadism, which seeks to harm nonbelievers, the more the better. But there is a whiff of something similar, metaphorically and emotionally: ideologies that tell vulnerable people their lives — and deaths — have purpose. That is wrong. Someone should call for the Tibetan people to halt their burnings and turn to other forms of protest.
The ideal person would be the Dalai Lama. He never has. Though we couldn’t grab His Holiness’ time for an interview through spokespeople, he’s articulated his reasons before: He worries China will use the protests against him, painting him as approving of them. He didn’t want to devalue the lives of those who had self-immolated. If not him, then perhaps another prominent monk.
To be sure, we’re outside Tibet and cannot empathize with the conditions there. (The Dalai Lama is himself exiled in India. Even his image is banned in his homeland.) But it’s worth noting that self-immolation is “a new element in the vocabulary of Tibetan activism,” says Robert Barnett, director of modern Tibet studies at Columbia University. Indeed, he argues there’s no grounding for the practice in Buddhism. It was in fact modeled off of Chinese protest practices, not the 1960s Vietnam immolations, as is often thought, Barnett says.
Those who self-immolate in protest see it as “self-sacrifice to express their feelings,” says Tibetan BuchangTsering, vice president of the International Campaign for Tibet. He says that when the count of burnings hit 104 in 2013, the Chinese government was forced to respond. Alistair Currie, of London-based Free Tibet, says participants may believe that a high number of immolations would force the international community’s hand.
Clearly, though, that’s not been the case. It may be a good sign that the self-immolations are down in count these days — Free Tibet counts only two this year — but it also may be a symbol of resignation to China, says Barnett. Can Tibetans use the abatement of such protests to speak in other voices? Perhaps that is a privilege belonging only to the diaspora; after all, we can’t hear those from within China. “Is this [self-immolation] the best way for people to do something? I don’t think so,” says Tsering. “I don’t call that as a protest — it’s an assertion of their rights.” Tsering believes instead in using China’s system against it, arguing for Tibetans’ rights within the Chinese constitution — for instance, to preserve the language.
Coming up is the Dalai Lama’s birthday. Currie says the stateless nation will spend its time celebrating, not discussing protest. Maybe though, just maybe, the occasion could gift His Holiness with something different. I speak with privilege. Perhaps I’m wrong.
TROUBLE IN TIBET – INDIA – CHINA WAR OF 1967
India – China War of 1962 and 1967 cannot be described as border conflicts for India and China do not share a common border. These conflicts are signs and symptoms of serious malady called ‘Trouble in Tibet’, the Trouble caused by Tibet’s illegal occupation.
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THE STORY OF INDIAN ARMY’S NATHU LA & CHO LA STANDS THAT SAVED SIKKIM FROM THE CHINESE ARMY !
This is how it happened at Nathu La ::
Nathu La was the only place in 4000 km long Indo-China border where two armies were separated by a meagre 30 yards.
Chinese held the northern shoulder of the pass while Indian Army had the southern shoulder. Two dominating features south and north of Nathu La namely Sebu La and Camel’s back were held by the Indians.
It started with scuffle between sentries ::
Sentries of both the forces used to stand barely one meter apart in the centre of the Pass which is marked by Nehru Stone, commemorating Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s trek to Bhutan through Nathu La and Chumbi Valley in 1959.
On 6 September 1967, an argument soon turned into a scuffle in which the Chinese Political Commissar fell down and broke his spectacles. Chinese went back since they were thin in size. Indian Army, however, in order to de-escalate the tension decided the lay a wire in the centre of the Pass from Nathu La to Sebu La to demarcate the perceived border. The task was given to jawans of 70 Field Company of Engineers assisted by a company of 18 Rajput deployed at Yak La pass further north of Nathu La.
The actual face-off ::
The wire laying was to commence at first light on the fateful morning of 11 September 1967. With first light, the engineers and jawans started their bit of erecting long iron pickets from Nathu La to Sebu La along the perceived border while 2 Grenadiers and Artillery Observation Post Officers (AOPO) at Sebu La and Camel’s Back were on alert.
Soon, the Chinese arrived. Their Political Commissar, with a section of Infantry came to the centre of the Pass where Lt. Col Rai Singh, Commanding Officer (CO) of 2 Grenadiers was standing with his commando platoon.
The Chinese asked CO to stop the fencing. But Lt. Col was adamant as orders were clear. The argument soon turned into scuffle and once again the tiny Chinese Commissar got roughed up.
Chinese went back to their bunkers, but this time returned to salvage their insult. Minutes later a murderous medium machine gun fire from north shoulder of Nathu La ran riot and jawans of 70 Field Company and 18 Rajput were caught in the open.
Among the Indian causalities was Col Rai Singh who succumbed to the bullet injuries. He was awarded MVC later. Two other brave officers – Capt Dagar of 2 Grenadiers and Major Harbhajan Singh of 18 Rajput rallied a few troops and tried to assault the Chinese MMG but both died a heroic death. They were posthumously awarded Vir Chakra and MVC respectively. Within the ten minutes, there were nearly seventy dead and scores wounded lying in the open on the pass.
Indians in retaliation opened fire from artillery observation posts and as a result, most of the Chinese bunkers on North shoulder and in depth were completely destroyed and Chinese suffered very heavy casualties which by their own estimates were over 400. It was followed by a ferocious counter strike from the Mountaineers, Grenadiers and Rajputs which included close quarter combat also.
The artillery duel thereafter carried on relentlessly, day and night. For the next three days, the Chinese were taught a very good lesson.
On September 14th, Chinese threatened to use Air Force if shelling didn’t stop.
But by then a lesson was taught to the Chinese. Col Raj Singh and Maj Harbhajan Singh were awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously while Capt Dagar was awarded the Vir Chakra.
Another duel at Cho La (1st October 1967) ::
It again started with sentries.
Minor scuffle between Sikh sentries and the Chinese on 30th September on a flat patch of icy land of about five metres on the unmarked boundary was the start of the stand off.
Information of scuffle reached late to CO, Major KB Joshi, but he didn’t waste anytime in telling Lt Rathore about anticipating a Nathu La like backlash. The CO decided to take stoke of the situation and thus reached Rai Gap area on the way to De Coy positions in morning.
While the Indian Sentry at post 15450 was visible, Major Joshi also observed that the post was being surrounded by a section strength of Chinese troops. Major Joshi at once informed Lt. Rathore of what he had seen. The later informed Major Joshi that the Chinese Coy Commander and the political commissar were staking claims to the boulder at the sentry post.
When Gorkha taught them a lesson ::
Naib Subedar Gyan Bahadur Limbu was having a heated argument with his counterpart at the sentry post during which he rested his right foot on the boulder under dispute. The Chinese kicked his foot away. Gyan put his foot back and challenged them. Events were moving quickly.
By this time the Chinese had taken up position, presumably because their commander had already taken a decision to escalate the incident. And one of the Chinese sentries bayoneted Gyan wounding him in the arm.
The Gorkha’s response was swift and soon both arms of the Chinese who hit the JCO were chopped off with a Khukri. At this point the Chinese opened fire and the two sides engaged in a firefight at close range. Lance Naik Krishna Bahadur, the Post Commander, then led a charge against the Chinese in the vicinity who were forming up for an assault. Although hit and incapacitated, he continued to harangue his men forward.
Rifleman Devi Prasad Limbu directly behind his Post Commander was already engaged in a close quarter battle with the enemy and his Khukri took off five Chinese heads.
But he was soon claimed by a direct hit. For his actions he was awarded a Vir Chakra, Posthumous. Meanwhile at Pt. 1540 Lt. Rathore was wounded in his left arm as soon as the firing started. He nevertheless continued to lead until he was hit in the chest and abdomen and died thereafter.
From here on Major Joshi took over immediately and his accurate mortar fire on Chinese positions around Point 15450 put an end to further activity in this area.
CO took matter in his hands ::
While Point 15450 was temporarily quiet, Tamze and the Rai Gap area came under rocket and RCL fire at around 10:50 am. The mortar position at Tamze came under heavy pressure as it threatened the rear of the Chinese positions. J&K Rifles stationed there suffered heavy casualties when one of their bunkers received a direct hit by RCL fire.
Soon, Major Joshi’s escort was killed and a handful of Chinese soldiers tried to move towards Major Joshi’s party. These troops withdrew after Major Joshi took down two Chinese. The fighting, however, continued.
Chinese wanted to shift the location of fight and hence stopped firing. But immediately retaliated by bringing down fire on Timjong’s position, another position closer by.
Major Joshi, undaunted, even though alone, continued to fire until all ammunition was exhausted. By 11:30 am troops were withdrawn back from Pt. 15450 under covering fire from MMGs on Pt. 15180.
Though the Chinese shot green lights indicating a ceasefire but at Pt. 15180 Major Joshi noticed some enemy troops lined up just below the crest at Rai Gap and engaged them, forcing them to scatter. while thwarting them back into their territory, Major Joshi shot four more.
The last assault ::
Despite great show, Pt 15540 was still under Chinese control. Thus operation was launched at 1700 hours after he met his men at camp. Soon Captain Parulekar and B Coy were given the task to capture Pt 15540, but they fumbled in dark.
Chinese fired magnesium flares to see the activity but failed. Captain Parulekar realized it was risky to move further, thus he waited. At 06:40 pm, Major Joshi ordered Parulekar and the platoon to outflank the enemy from a north-west direction, while the rest of the company and supporting mortars were readied for a frontal assault.
The offensive was about to be launched when the Chinese saw Indians occupying key positions to nail them. Thus they retreated and Pt 15540 was captured without firing a single shot.
During the whole standoff, the Chinese lost more than 50 soldiers while Indian Army conceded 15 of its valiant soldiers.
HOPE FOR TIBET FROM SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Opening of new Tibetan Community Center in Salt Lake City, Utah may bring some cheer to Tibetans in Occupied Tibet. Survival of Tibetan Language, Culture, and historical traditions is of importance to sustain Tibetan Resistance Movement.
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By PEGGY FLETCHER STACK The Salt Lake Tribune
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members and friends gather at the Tibetan Utah Community Center in Salt Lake City Wednesday June 22 where the Dalai Lama will be speaking.
South Salt Lake • On Tuesday, Utah Tibetans shared the Dalai Lama with the world. A day later, they had the spiritual leader all to themselves.
It was a moment of triumph for the Beehive State’s tiny Tibetan populace — 272 members — as the globe-trotting luminary stepped into the community’s newly renovated warehouse-turned-sanctuary in South Salt Lake.
The group was scurrying to finish it last fall, when His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama canceled his planned Utah visit for health reasons. When he rescheduled for this week, the Tibetans wanted to showcase their faith and devotion in the space.
And they enlisted a lot of local support.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams recruited the help of Utah AFL-CIO boss Dale Cox, who tapped his stable of electricians, plumbers, contractors and others to donate their work.
They logged more than 2,500 volunteer hours, Cox said Wednesday, laboring weekends and holidays to finish the building.
“I promised them they would all go to heaven for their work,” Cox quipped. “I didn’t tell them about reincarnation until the end of the project.”
The community center did not disappoint.
It was decked out with silk banners, a Buddha tapestry, red-and-yellow potted plants and a specially made wooden throne in the middle for their revered leader. All the Tibetans wore traditional silk dresses or tunics and seemed filled with jittery anticipation.
The attendees stood and the hall fell silent as the Dalai Lama entered — with only the sound of his signature laugh at his entrance.
The Buddhist leader, who turns 81 next month, walked slowly up the center aisle, greeting people on both sides, clasping their hands and leaning in to hear their words of welcome. Selfie sticks were held high to capture the moment and the smell of incense perfumed the air.
Then the Nobel laureate, who calls himself a “simple monk,” took his seat, signaling the crowd to do likewise. He accepted gifts from the community and listened with obvious delight as Tibetan children entertained him with a song from their homeland.
“Beautiful,” the Dalai Lama said in English.
A report from the Utah Tibetan Association followed, describing the group and its accomplishments, including having paid back most of its $500,000 loan for the center.
That was due, in part, to help from the larger community and to “His Holiness’ fame.”
“Now we only have $40,000 to pay back,” association President Lobsang Tsering, said in Tibetan. “We would like to pray for His Holiness’ long life.”
With that, the community let out a collective laugh.
In a serious turn, the Dalai Lama, echoing some themes he addressed Tuesday during a speech at the University of Utah, offered a lecture on Buddhism in Tibetan (with simultaneous translation for others). Tibetans are guardians of ancient texts, he said, with an emphasis on logic and reason.
Tibetan Buddhism, he added, “produces the most scholars and teachers.”
He encouraged the assembled believers to check the writings against their reasoning and their experiences.
While consecrating statues and shrines are important, the mustard-and-maroon-robed monk admonished the Tibetans that studying ancient texts is even more crucial.
The Dalai Lama urged them to pass the language and discipline on to the next generation.
“Buddha was a teacher,” he said, “and I am a teacher.”
He bid the Tibetans farewell, was quietly helped out the back door and was gone.
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