Chushi Gangdruk “Four Rivers, Six Ranges” – The Story of Tibetan Armed Resistance Movement Against Communist China

Chushi Gangdruk was formally established on June 10 1958. Commander Andruk Gonpo Tashi was the founder of this pioneering Tibetan organisation which aimed at unifying Tibetans, whilst pursuing armed resistance against the invading Red Chinese forces. Chushi Gangdruk translates to the “Four Rivers, Six Ranges” in Tibetan. 

Each year, Tibetans in diasporas commemorate the founding anniversary of Chushi Gangdruk, which started in Tibet soon after Tibet was invaded by Communist China’s PLA from the eastern frontiers.

Hosted by Sonam Wangchen from Toronto (Canada), this discussion with Professor Carole McGranahan provides a detailed account of the origin of Chushi Gangdruk and the Tibetan resistance under Andruk Gonpo Tashi.

Based at the University of Colorado, Boulder Prof. Carole McGranahan is an anthropologist and historian specializing in contemporary Tibet, whose research focuses on issues of colonialism and empire, history and memory, power and politics, refugees and citizenship, nationalism, senses of belonging, gender, war, and anthropology as theoretical storytelling. Since 1994, she has conducted research in Tibetan refugee communities in India and Nepal on the history and politics of the guerilla army Chushi Gangdrug, culminating in my book Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Histories of a Forgotten War (Duke University Press, 2010).

Background

When the Communist Chinese government ordered its so-called People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to march into Tibet in 1949, the people of Tibet’s eastern region were the first to experience the threat of Chinese invasion. The people of Kham and Amdo rose up and confronted the Chinese army at the onset of the invasion of our motherland. Pitched battles were fought under the command and banner of local chieftains. However, there was no proper organization and strategy, no unity, and only uncoordinated efforts to combat the common enemy were made.

In 1956 the Chinese introduced the so-called “Democratic Reforms” in Kham starting with the eastern region of Tibet. They began to impose communist ideology and destroyed Tibetan religion and culture. They conducted mass arrests and executions of Tibetan religious leaders and other prominent leaders. People of these areas could not tolerate the brutal Chinese atrocities and rose up in arms against them. Disorganized and ill-equipped volunteer fighters could not withstand the mighty Chinese army that overwhelmed them, grasped their territory and spread like oil drops on paper. Volunteer defenders gradually retreated toward Central and Western Tibet.

Kalachakra Initiation

By 1957 a large number of volunteer defenders from various parts of the eastern region of Tibet had gathered around Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. The Khampas felt the need to form a united organization to confront the Communist Chinese aggression. But by that time, the Chinese had started to exert pressure and our government’s position was rather helpless. So, in order to evade Chinese suspicion and surveillance on our activities and also to enable the different groups of the defenders to come in close contact with each other, the late Andruk Gonpo Tashi from Lithang and other leaders from the eastern regions made a camouflage plan to make extensive religious offerings at Lhasa. Accordingly, with the consent of the Tibetan government, the preparations for making the now famous golden throne of Chushi Gangdruk for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama were underway. Then the leaders made a request to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to bestow the Kalachakra Initiation and His Holiness kindly accepted the request. However, since a similar request had been made earlier by one Amdo Jimpa Gyatso, the two parties co-sponsored the Second Kalachakra Initiation in 1957. In appreciation of the Initiation and for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a grand Tenshuk (Longevity) Offering Ceremony was performed by the Khampas. The offering of Tenshuk to His Holiness on the new golden throne was meant to symbolize the enthronement of His Holiness as ruler of the entire Tibetan territory and also for reaffirmation of faith in His Holiness as supreme being.

Formation

Meanwhile the Khampa volunteer leaders were having secret meetings, busy in laying out future plans and strategies. As a result of their common efforts it was finally and unanimously decided to form a united resistance organization against the common enemy, the Communist Chinese aggression. The leaders then signed a statement pledging their commitment to risk everything to resist the Communist Chinese. Upon the completion of religious ceremonies, the Khampa leaders and volunteer members gradually moved out of Lhasa in different routes towards the Lhokha area, south of Lhasa, and eventually assembled at Chaktsa Dri-Guthang (Chosen Rendezvous). The formal announcement of the formation of the Chushi Gangdruk (Land of Four Rivers and Six Ranges) Defend Tibet Volunteer Force was made on the 16th of June 1958 and since then it is commemorated every year to mark the anniversary of Chushi Gangdruk. It was the first time that all the regions of Kham and the Khampas of all regions came together under one organization and fought under one banner since the splitting up of Tibet during the reign of the last and evil King, Lang Tharma. Chushi Gangdruk included people from both Kham and Amdo regions, but since the number of Amdos were small , they served as one of the 37 allied forces in the organization. Later in exile, Amdo withdrew from the allied organization to form an Amdo party.

The leaders then turned their attention to the choice of formation insignia of the organization and the colour of the banner or the flag. After long debate they finally agreed upon and designed the organization’s insignia as a crossed sword on a yellow background. The significance of the background being such is that the Buddhist colour is yellow and the organization’s main intention was to defend Buddhism from Chinese Communism. The symbolic reasons for crossed swords were that the flaming sword representing the wisdom sword of Manjushree severs the roots of ignorance which was the root cause of communism. The other sword was the symbol of bravery and it was the only weapon that the Khampas or the Tibetans themselves could make. A great deal of importance was attached to it because in 1944, when a Tibetan delegation to the Afro-Asian Conference in Delhi made a point to meet Mahatma Gandhi, founder of the non-violence movement, as a traditional way of greeting the delegation it offered him white scarves, but Gandhi-ji wanted to know if the scarves were made by the Tibetans. When told that they were from China, he refused to take them, saying that he would like only something that the Tibetans themselves made with their own hands and methods.

Source: https://www.chushigangdruk.ca

MOLA’s Woolwich Communities Building Archaeology Training Course to Benefit Minorities Groups

As part of the Woolwich Heritage Action Zone programme, the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) team are providing their first training course to discover the history of Powis and Hare Streets in Woolwich.

Expert archaeologists from MOLA will deliver the FREE 2 day training course for Woolwich residents on 27th and 28th July 2022 from 11am to 4pm.

Over the two day trainees will take part in practical activities and learn how to:

  • Read historic maps
  • Record heritage buildings
  • Engage in the social history of Woolwich

No previous historic or archaeological experience is necessary. This training may be of interest for those wishing to understand more about their local heritage or to learn new skills.

Minimum age is 10 years old (with supervision) 16 years old (can go unsupervised.) Anyone above this age can apply.

The organisers also welcome trainees with specific learning (SENDS+) needs and accessibility (physical or mental) needs but support will be required for those under 25 years old – email MOLA team to discuss further.

Although this free training course is initially reserved for Woolwich residents only (Royal Borough of Greenwich) but local applicants are encouraged to register their interests who will be placed in waiting list.

Tsering Passang, Chairman of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM), said: “We welcome this wonderful free training opportunity from the MOLA team. I know the organisers have been engaging with the local stakeholders when developing this course. The encouragement the organisers have given to the minorities groups is admirable. We are very pleased to be associated with the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) and its partners through the Woolwich High Street Heritage Action Zone (Woolwich-HSHAZ). We have already reached out to various stakeholders and continue to encourage all minorities groups in the Royal Borough of Greenwich to take up this free training offer. In addition to benefitting from acquiring new skills, this initial training could lead the trainees to new opportunities.”

As the places are limited, the organisers are encouraging early registration to avoid disappointment. So, please register it today!

Registration via: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/woolwich-communities-building-archaeology-training-course-tickets-371327038167?aff=EmailLink  For more information email communityengagement@mola.org.uk

GATPM Note: Any candidate from minorities groups who wishes to have an informal chat about the training programme may contact Tsering Passang, Woolwich HSHAZ Steering Group – 07927 376532 | info@gatpm.com.

“Tibet is the Guinea Pig of Non-Violence”, Deputy Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile at 8th WPCT

Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang speaking with Voice of America (VOA), Washington DC

Over 100 delegates from 26 countries attended the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet (WPCT) in Washington D.C. from 22nd to 23rd June 2022. After intensive deliberations and sharing, The Washington DC Declaration was released.

Mrs Dolma Tsering Teykang, the Deputy Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, remarked that “Tibet is the Guinea Pig of Non-Violence” and she called for continued support from parliamentarians and governments worldwide.

Video courtesy: TibetTV | Deputy Speaker’s concluding remarks starts at 1:43:49

Organised by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, this latest convention in Washington DC was in continuation of the previous 7 WPCT sessions, with an object of strengthening and coordinating support by parliamentarians from different countries to resolve the China-Tibet conflict.

The first WPCT was held in 1994 in New Delhi and the subsequent conventions were held in Vilnius, Lithuania (1995); Washington D.C., USA (1997); Edinburgh, Scotland (U.K.) (2005); Rome, Italy (2009); Ottawa, Canada (2012); and Riga, Latvia (2019).

According to the press statement before the convention, the TPiE said, “By holding the 8th WPCT in the United States, a country with fundamental values of democracy and equality, we honor the important role played by the United States Congress in formulating policy initiatives on Tibet, including institutionalising support through several legislations.”

The convention also announced the revival of the International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPaT).

The Washington DC Declaration

The Washington DC Declaration

8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet

22-23 June 2022, Washington, D.C

Parliamentarians from 28 countries participated in the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention in Washington D.C. from 22 to 23 June 2022 in person and virtually, to review and discuss the situation in Tibet and efforts to resolve the Sino-Tibetan conflict, caused by the PRC’s invasion of Tibet in 1950 and its illegal occupation since then. They thanked their hosts in the US Congress and commended them for the pathbreaking legislation adopted in recent years on Tibet. 

The meeting took place as the war in the Ukraine, caused by Russia’s invasion of that independent country on February 24, was about to enter its fourth month and triggered striking comparisons to Tibet’s invasion decades earlier. These invasions, constituting flagrant violations of the most fundamental norms of international law, highlight the urgent need to enforce international law and prioritise safeguarding the rule of law and the promotion of freedom, democracy, self-determination and human rights throughout the world above short-term economic gain.

The participants committed to take action to ensure collaboration among parliaments and with the Tibetan Parliament in Exile on matters related to Tibet. This includes collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and with other interparliamentary organisations and bodies. The International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPaT) will be revived, and where possible parliamentarians will create parliamentary groups in countries where they do not yet exist.  

The participants call on parliaments to adopt legislation, resolutions or motions, hold hearings and investigations at national and sub-national levels to advance the Tibetan cause in line with this declaration.

The participants call on all parliaments to take coordinated action, and to hold their governments accountable for upholding international law in regard to Tibet, including by fulfilling their States’ obligations and responsibilities under international law to

  • respect and promote the inalienable right of the Tibetan people to self-determination, 
  • refrain from expressly or implicitly recognising the PRC’s claim to sovereignty over Tibet
  • treat Tibet as an occupied country and not as a part of China, and
  • take coordinated action, with other like-minded governments, to achieve a resolution to the Sino-Tibetan conflict through dialogue and negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.

The participants call on parliaments to take coordinated action to affirm and endorse the exclusive right of the Dalai Lama and the Gaden Phodrang, the Tibetan people, and the Tibetan Buddhist community to select and appoint the incarnation of the next Dalai Lama and other senior Lamas and firmly reject the PRC’s declared intention to do so as a violation of religious freedom.

The participants reject the false historical narratives propagated by the PRC and CCP, which claim that Tibet has been a part of China since ancient times, to attempt to justify the PRC’s invasion of Tibet and current occupation of Tibet. They call on parliamentarians and parliaments to take coordinated action to expose and counter these false narratives.

The participants call on parliaments to take coordinated action to prohibit corporations from benefiting from forced labor and the exploitation of the natural environment of the Tibetan plateau.

The convention noted the massive environmental degradation occurring on the Tibetan plateau because of mining resulting in toxic waste, water pollution, deforestation and the destruction of mountains. Further, more than two million Tibetan nomads have been removed from their traditional lands to allow for this exploitation and resettled in culturally destructive villages. 

The impacts of environmental mismanagement in Tibet extend far beyond Tibet itself with over 50 mega dams planned on the 10 major rivers that rise on the Plateau, threatening the water supplies of over 1.5 billion people in countries downstream. 

Tibet’s situation as the world’s Third Pole results in global heating occurring at rates more than twice the world average, which will result in the majority of the glaciers on the plateau gone by 2050, with global repercussions.

The participants express solidarity with the Uyghurs and Southern Mongolians under PRC rule, the people of Hong Kong and the people of Taiwan under PRC threat, as well as with the Chinese democracy movement, all of whom seek common ground to face common challenges. 

The Participants expressed their continuing support for the democratic achievements of the Tibetans, their commitment to non-violence and their efforts to seek a resolution of the conflict with the PRC through the Middle Way Approach.

Source: Tibet.Net

Senior US government officials meeting with exiled Tibetan leaderships in Washington D.C. “a sign of positive development for Tibet”

By Tsering Passang, Founder and Chairman, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities

Hon. Sikyong Penpa Tsering; Hon. Speaker Ven. Khenpo Sonam Tenphel; Hon. Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering; Hon. Kalon for Department of Information and International Relations, Norzin Dolma; and Representative Namgyal Choedup met with the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Under Secretary Uzra Zeya in Washington D.C. on 21st June 2022 | Photo: Sikyong Penpa Tsering

A high-level meeting between senior US government officials including Under Secretary Uzra Zeya and elected leaderships of the Central Tibetan Administration (aka Tibetan Government-in-Exile) was held in Washington D.C. this week.

At a time when the Tibetan issue is slipping its spotlight on the global stage, this high-level meeting in the US capital between senior US government officials and the exiled Tibetan leaderships is a sign of positive development for Tibet. Since there has been a greater need of political turbocharge to bring about a lasting resolution to the 70-years old China-Tibet conflict this latest high-level meeting is a showcase of political support from the US government. We hope Washington D.C. will take up the matter next with the senior Chinese leaderships in Beijing in order to secure a meaningful outcome.

The Tibetan delegation is led by Hon. Sikyong Penpa Tsering, President of the Central Tibetan Administration; Hon. Speaker Venerable Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and Hon. Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. They are also joined by Hon. Kalon for Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), Minister Norzin Dolma; and Dr. Namgyal Choedup, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based the Office of Tibet, Washington D.C.

Under Secretary Uzra Zeya is the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, who took the office six months ago. In his press statement on 20th December 2021, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken said, “I have designated Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya to serve concurrently as the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, an important role she will take on effective immediately. She will also continue to serve as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, a position for which she was sworn in on July 14, 2021.”

In her Special Coordinator’s role, Under Secretary Uzra Zeya coordinates the US government policies, programmes and projects related to Tibetan issues.

The Senior US diplomat paid her first official visit to Dharamsala, northern India, the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration, in May 2022, when she met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the elected Tibetan leaderships. After her India visit, Zeya travelled to Nepal where she met with Nepalese Prime Minister and discussed matters related to the Tibetan refugees.

Washington D.C. hosts 8th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet

Over 100 delegates from 26 countries are expected to attend the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet in Washington D.C. from 22nd to 23rd June, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile’s press release said.

Organised by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, this convention is in continuation of the previous seven sessions of WPCT, with an object of strengthening and coordinating support by parliamentarians from different countries to resolve the China-Tibet conflict.

According to the TPIE’s press release issued on 20th June, the first WPCT was held in 1994 in New Delhi “honouring the foundational role India has played in the survival of the Tibetan identity after the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet”. Subsequent conventions were held in Vilnius, Lithuania (1995); Washington D.C., USA (1997); Edinburgh, Scotland (U.K.) (2005); Rome, Italy (2009); Ottawa, Canada (2012); and Riga, Latvia (2019).

The release further added, “By holding the 8th WPCT in the United States, a country with fundamental values of democracy and equality, we honor the important role played by the United States Congress in formulating policy initiatives on Tibet, including institutionalising support through several legislations.”

Useful links:

US Under Secretary Uzra Zeya

Central Tibetan Administration

Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile

Office of Tibet, Washington DC

How London is keeping the memories of the Tiananmen Massacre alive?

A short documentary by two international journalists Ka Long Tung and Adwitiya Pal from Cardiff University, Wales, UK

A Protester holding placard outside Chinese Embassy on 4th June 2022.

Thousands joined London rallies to mark the 33rd Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4th.

The Unite for Democracy” Rally started off in Whitehall, opposite 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister on Saturday, 4th June from 4pm to 5.30pm. This was immediately followed by a second rally in Piccadilly Circus where hundreds joined in to mark the poignant chapter in the history of democracy movement in China.

At 7.30pm the main June 4th Vigil Rally was held outside the Chinese Embassy where thousands attended. The vigil was first started by Dr. Stephen Ng MBE and his colleagues soon after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. This year’s vigil rally saw the biggest turnout ever since it was started 33 years ago.

Two young international journalists from Cardiff University travelled to London to cover the political rallies. Here is their short documentary.

Ka Long Tung is an independent journalist from Hong Kong, who is currently pursuing an MA in International Journalism at Cardiff University, Wales.

Previously worked as Online News Editor for Ming Pao, Ka Long Tung also served as an Editor for the Chinese University Student Press. He frequently writes and makes documentaries on a wide range of issues. Here is a link to his blog.

Adwitiya Pal is a Multimedia journalist, who writes about science, environment, culture and policy issues. He is pursuing MA in International Journalism at Cardiff University, Wales. Here is a link to his blog.

Useful link:

https://cardiffjournalism.co.uk/intercardiff/global-city

London Exhibition to highlight His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Four Principal Commitments

As part of the celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 87th birthday, a special photographic-exhibition will be on public display in central London next month. On 6th July 1935, Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama was born in Taktser, Amdo province in north-eastern Tibet.

This special photographic-exhibition aims to highlight the emergence of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s Four Principal Commitments.

Organised by the Tibet House Trust and the Office of Tibet, the exhibition will be held at The October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AL from Thursday, 7th July | 10am to Sunday, 10th July | 7pm. It is open to the public for four days.

Organisers have also planned fringe events during the course of the exhibition in the evenings when eminent Buddhist scholars will give public talks. There will be children-focus activities on Saturday, 9th July.

Visitors will have the opportunity to take pictures with a life-size cut-picture of The Dalai Lama, try on Tibetan traditional costumes and play with traditional Tibetan musical instruments.

His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche, Lineage Holder of Shangpa Kagyu, will give a talk on Religious Harmony on Thursday 7th July from 6pm to 7pm.

Venerable Geshe Tenzin Namdak, Resident Teacher at Jamyang Buddhist Centre will give public talk on Compassion and Warm Heartedness on Friday, 8th July from 6pm to 7pm.

On Saturday, 9th July from 11am to 1pm, there will be Children’s hands-on activities.

(Please see the posters for further details.)

All the events are free, however, attendees are requested to register via the EventBrite.

The Four Principal Commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Firstly, as a human being, His Holiness is concerned with encouraging people to be happy – helping them understand that if their minds are upset mere physical comfort will not bring them peace, but if their minds are at peace even physical pain will not disturb their calm. He advocates the cultivation of warm-heartedness and human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. He says that as human beings we are all the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who have no religious belief can benefit if they incorporate these human values into their lives. His Holiness refers to such human values as secular ethics or universal values. He is committed to talking about the importance of such values and sharing them with everyone he meets.

Secondly, as a Buddhist monk, His Holiness is committed to encouraging harmony among the world’s religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences between them, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognise the value of their respective traditions. The idea that there is one truth and one religion is relevant to the individual practitioner. However, with regard to the wider community, he says, there is a need to recognise that human beings observe several religions and several aspects of the truth.

Thirdly, His Holiness is a Tibetan and as the ‘Dalai Lama’ is the focus of the Tibetan people’s hope and trust. Therefore, he is committed to preserving Tibetan language and culture, the heritage Tibetans received from the masters of India’s Nalanda University, while also speaking up for the protection of Tibet’s natural environment.

In addition, His Holiness has lately spoken of his commitment to reviving awareness of the value of ancient Indian knowledge among young Indians today. His Holiness is convinced that the rich ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, as well as the techniques of mental training, such as meditation, developed by Indian traditions, are of great relevance today. Since India has a long history of logic and reasoning, he is confident that its ancient knowledge, viewed from a secular, academic perspective, can be combined with modern education. He considers that India is, in fact, specially placed to achieve this combination of ancient and modern modes of knowing in a fruitful way so that a more integrated and ethically grounded way of being in the world can be promoted within contemporary society.

Tibetan Community in Britain celebrates His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s 87th Birthday – Annual Event

On Saturday, 9th July 2022, the Tibetan Community in Britain are organising His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 87th Birthday Celebration at The Old Town Hall, Stratford. New Venue: 29 The Broadway, London, E15 4BQ. (For full details, please check the poster below.)

Useful Links:

www.tibet-house-trust.co.uk

www.dalailama.com

www.tibet.net

www.tibetancommunityuk.net

www.shangpakagyu.org

www.jamyang.co.uk

www.octobergallery.co.uk

FILE – In this April 5, 2017, file photo, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets devotees at the Buddha Park in Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh, India. More than 150 Tibetan religious leaders say their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, should have the sole authority to choose his successor. A resolution adopted by the leaders at a conference on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, says the Tibetan people will not recognize a candidate chosen by the Chinese government for political ends. ( AP Photo/Tenzin Choejor, File)

Tibetan identity and cultural heritage highlighted at Annual Festival in London

After a gap of two years due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the London School of Tibetan Language & Culture held its first post-COVID Annual Festival on Sunday, 12th June. It was held at the Asian Community Centre in Plumstead, south-east London.

Tibetan children are the focus of this annual cultural fest, which provides a platform to exhibit what they had learned during the year in a two-hour public programme. The Annual Festival was open from 11am with various fun games for the kids and guests. Invited guests, parents, friends and members of the Tibetan Community UK attended the cultural event. Special invited guests included the Representative of the Dalai Lama and his colleagues from the Office of Tibet, and the Chairman and the General Secretary of  Tibetan Community UK. His Eminence Lelung Tulku of the Lelung Dharma Centre and visiting Geshe Lobsang Drakpa from Dzongkar Choede Monastery, Hunsur (south India), blessed the Tibetan cultural festival with their presence.

After the vegetarian lunch, the main programme began at 2pm with Buddhist prayers and the Tibetan National Anthem. This followed a welcome and introduction by senior students. Children from various classes made presentations on Tibetan history, language, grammar, and elocution of romantic songs, composed by the 6th Dalai Lama. They also played musical instruments including Dranyen (six-string lute), encouraging the audience to join in with popular Tibetan songs. Beautiful dances were performed by junior members to the delight of the audience. 

Tenzin Zeydhan, Executive Secretary of the Tibet House Trust, thanked everyone involved, especially the Parents Committee and the teachers, for their cooperation in materialising this year’s Annual Festival.

After the presentation of certificates to those children who had left the school in the previous years, His Excellency Sonam Tsering Frasi, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, addressed the gathering. He stated that the weekend Tibetan school, which aims to serve the Tibetan Community towards the preservation of their unique language and culture, proved to be beneficial. Whilst encouraging parents to put extra efforts at home, the Tibetan diplomat thanked all concerned including the teachers, children and the Tibetan Community for their continued efforts and cooperation towards the shared goals of preserving Tibetan language and culture.

Tsering Tsomo, member of the Parents Committee, gave a ‘Vote of Thanks’ on behalf of the organisers. She said that the London School of Tibetan Language & Culture continued to operate due to vital assistance from the Tibet House Trust and the Office of Tibet. Tsomo acknowledged and thanked The Camellia Foundation for its continued support via the Tibet House Trust. She also acknowledged various individuals for their support. Tsomo thanked His Eminence Lelung Tulku and the Lelung Dharma Trust for donating over a thousand pounds to cover the costs of this year’s festival. 

Next, it was time for the first round of Gorshey that everyone was waiting for – the popular Tibetan circle dance, led by Tenzin Samphel, a dance master. After the delicious dinner, there was time for more Gorshey after the organisers extended the hall booking by another hour – until 8pm!

It was a memorable day for everyone, especially the children and their parents. His Eminence Lelung Tulku, Founder and Spiritual Director of the Lelung Dharma Trust, later told this author that he was very touched by the achievements the young children have made during the year. He said, “It’s so wonderful to see the efforts put in by the small Tibetan Community to educate the younger generation about our language, history and culture.”

About the London School of Tibetan Language & Culture (LSTLC)

The school has history dating back to the early 1990s, when a small number of Tibetan children initially attended Tibetan language class at the Tibet House, when Kasur Kesang Takla was the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Office of Tibet, London. Late Gan Tsering Dhundup Gonkatsang was the first Tibetan Language Teacher who taught the Tibetan children for many years. 

As the small London-based Tibetan Community grew over the past decade, the weekend Tibetan language class had to adapt to the changing situation. After a year-long rigorous efforts made by all concerned stakeholders to bring the small Tibetan Community together to a more centrally located Tibetan learning centre, the London School of Tibetan Language and Culture was formally inaugurated on Sunday, 11th September 2016 at John F Kennedy Special School in Stratford, east London. Currently, there are four teachers and 47 children who attend the LSTLC. The children come from the Greater London region and the neighourbouring counties including, Hertfordshire and Surrey. The school currently accepts admission from Year 1 students or 6 years-old and above.

Volunteer teachers from Tibetan Community UK facilitate the Teaching & Learning of Tibetan language (reading, writing and spoken), history, traditional music and dance to the children, most of whom are born in this country. These weekly sessions are held on Sundays from 10am to 1pm in Stratford, east London, during school term-time (an equivalent of 36 Sundays annually). Additional sessions are also held to prepare for special events. The school begins with Morning Assembly, when children recite Buddhist prayers and give presentations, followed by three 45-minutes sessions for Tibetan history, language and music. 

The Tibet House Trust and the Office of Tibet continue to provide support to the LSTLC. Prior to the Tibet House Trust’s initiative, the UK chapter of the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) ran Tibetan language classes for Tibetan children at weekends.

Tibetan language classes are now held at weekends across the UK including in Bristol.

(This report is filed by Tsering Passang, who attended the Annual Festival.)

Useful links:

http://www.facebook.com/LSTLandC

www.tibet-house-trust.co.uk

thecamelliafoundation.org

www.tibetancommunityuk.net

www.tibet.net 

www.lelung.org

‘A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’

A Buddhist Talk by Geshe Lobsang Drakpa, Senior Lecturer at the Dzongkar Choede Monastery in Hunsur, south India

Geshe Lobsang Drakpa graduated from Sera Jey University in 2010 with a Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest academic accolade in Buddhist Philosophy as per the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Organised by the Lelung Dharma Trust, this talk is held at the Lelung Dharma Centre. There will be a Q&A session.

Date / Time: Friday, 10th June 2022 from 7pm – 8.15pm

Venue: Lelung Dharma Centre, Peace House, Parkside Way,  North Harrow, HA2 6BX (Tube station: North Harrow)

Useful link: www.lelung.org

Bedding With Authoritarian Regimes: Is The West Losing Its Core Principles Over Trade And Short-Term Gains?

This Op-ed piece by Tsering Passang, Founder & Chairman, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities, was published by the Tibet Rights Collective.

Photo: Tibet Sun / Tibet Rights Collective

The rugged mountains of remote Mustang, near the Nepal-Tibet border, was a perfect base for the voluntary Tibetan guerrilla resistance force in the 1960s and 70s. A tough terrain to make home even today despite some improved infrastructures. Scarcity of food means any supplies including rice and kerosene oil were three-fold or dearer than elsewhere in Nepal due to transportation costs. Caravans of mules and human potters were the only mode of transportation that took weeks to deliver basic supplies from the nearest town of Pokhara.

Limited crops grown in this hidden Buddhist kingdom depended on rainwater. A basic healthcare system was non-existent at the time. Local people resorted to traditional medicine, first-aid and spiritual healings instead of seeking professional modern medical assistance. The nearest hospital was a month’s trek or quicker on horse ride. More so, it was a risky trek with steep cliffs and dry weather storms. One was lucky to meet a passerby even after hours of trek. Needless to mention possible encounters with robbers and wild animals such as leopards. Although limited roads were built in recent years, Upper Mustang was closed to foreign tourists until 1990.

It was precisely for this reason the CIA backed the Tibetan guerrillas to conduct covert-operation from the remote region to gather intelligence and raid into Tibet. For Tibetans it was an attempt to fight back the Communist China but there were limited military hardware supplies from Washington.

After Mao Tsetung’s PLA troops invaded Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama fled into exile in India, in March 1959, where the Tibetan Leader established Tibetan Government-in-exile (aka Central Tibetan Administration). Some 80,000 Tibetan refugees followed their spiritual leader. In addition, thousands of Tibetan refugees fled to the neighbouring countries including Nepal and Bhutan.

My father crossed the Nepal-Tibet border into Dolpo, near Mustang, with his uncle, when he was about 10 years old. Some Khampa fighters tried to recruit him several times at such a young age but on their third attempt he decided to join the Tibetan voluntary force after asking his uncle. Born in the Tibetan Year of Tiger, my father turned 72 earlier this year. His faith and loyalty to the Dalai Lama is unquestionable. He is still a member of the Tibetan Youth Congress, which advocates for Tibetan independence.

During my mother’s second pregnancy (with me), she left Mustang after the fate of the Tibetan resistance movement in Mustang had been decided. She had a one-year old son to carry on her back and trekked for a month to reach the nearest town of Pokhara. About six months later, I was born at a temporary refugee shelter, where the family camped for just under a year. My father joined the family after serving 6-months detention in Nepalese prisons with several hundred Tibetan guerrilla fighters. After camping for several months at another temporary shelter, my family was finally resettled at a more permanent Tibetan refugee camp where I grew up.

Kissinger’s Rapprochement with Communist China

Kissinger with Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong | Photo: Wikipedia

Thousands of miles away, unknown to the Tibetan resistance fighters, former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who is probably the number one proponent of the Chinese regime, was secretly courting the Communist leaders in China. Apparently, his multiple secret trips and talks with the Chinese leaders were leading somewhere. After giving Communist China a permanent seat in the UN Security Council (by replacing the Republic of China or Taiwan), the 1972 historic visit by President Richard Nixon to the People’s Republic of China was an important strategic and diplomatic overture with the object of bringing Chairman Mao’s brutal regime into the geo-political scene. This was to gain leverage over relations with the Soviet Union.

Backed by President Bill Clinton, China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) hugely benefited the Chinese brutal regime. Despite failing to abide by their pledges and obligations, which the Chinese leaders promised in order to secure entry into the WTO (i.e. improving human rights and religious freedom etc.), the West did not hold China accountable.

China under Xi Jinping has become a serious and strategic threat not only to the US and Europe but to global peace and security. Xi Jinping and his regime have shown their complete disregard, posing serious challenges and undermining western core principles and values such as freedom, democracy and human rights.

Short-term Gains

In Europe, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who served in the highest office of Germany, as the Chancellor, from 1998 to 2005, has become a leading advocate for Putin’s regime in Europe. Schröder is currently the Chairman of Russian state-owned Rosneft, an energy company and Nord Stream 2 project.

Schröder with Putin

Despite facing calls to “immediately give up his offices and posts in Russia” over allegations of Russian involvement in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, the former German Chancellor was not interested to listen. Leader of the Green Party Goering-Eckardt in 2020 told the Funke Mediengruppe media company that “Former SPD Chancellor Schröder must now decide whether he is on the side of democracy and human rights.”

Germany, which has strong business ties with Russia and China, faces a serious dilemma over short-term trades over core principles.

Meanwhile in the UK, former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Sir Daniel Alexander is vice president and corporate secretary at China’s ‘Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’ (AIIB). He joined Xi Jinping’s ambitious project after losing his parliamentary seat in the May 2015 general election. It was reported that Danny Alexander was lobbying with the UK government to join the AIIB in 2019.

After becoming part of the Quad, the group of four acted as an inner cabinet: Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne (Conservative) and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander (Liberal Democrats). They famously championed the so-called UK-China “golden-era” relationship during Cameron-Clegg’s coalition government. British police arrested two Tibetan activists and a Chinese dissident, and, later their houses were raided at midnight when the trio were still in police custody. They were simply staging peaceful protests in London during Xi Jinping’s famous UK State Visit in 2015 when he demanded to stay in Buckingham Palace.

As reported in The Independent at the time, Danny Alexander suggested that there was sometimes such a thing as the Treasury view: “George Osborne and I would find ourselves more in agreement with each other than with the other two.” When he was the Chancellor, George Osbourne made a controversial trip to China’s occupied Xinjiang (East Turkistan) to boost trade where the brutal Chinese regime was engaging forced labour and genocide of Uyghur Muslims.

For human rights campaigners, such acts of appeasement from western political and business leaders are not only uncalled for but perceived as seriously undermining core principles and values.

Authoritarian regimes eye up potential influential individuals who have served in the government, and their greed for money ploughs straight through principles and moral values. Time and again western core principles and values such as freedom, democracy and human rights are traded over short-term gains, personal, business and trade. Some western leaders play soulless cheap PR for Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China, which is a clear sign of approval for all the atrocities committed by these brutal regimes.

In his article titled, “Tibet in the Year of the Tiger“, Phuntsog Wangyal, a former Representative of the Dalai Lama, calls on the West to stand up for freedom and democracy. Referring to Mao’s description of America as “Paper Tiger”, Wangyal wrote, “The Year of the Tiger is an ideal time for the West to prove that they are real Tigers that could stand up against the Chinese Dragon or the Russian Bear to defend freedom and democracy”.

This is now a serious test for the West to decide to continue bedding with the brutal authoritarian regimes for short-term gains or stand up for their own core principles. Freedom, democracy and human rights are at real stake. The West must immediately stop pandering to the brutal regimes in Russia and China.

This Op-ed piece was published by Tibet Rights Collective on 9th June 2022. For original link, please click here.

Useful link:

Tibet Rights Collective: www.tibetrightscollective.in