News from Tibet
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China has insisted India withdraw its troops from a disputed Himalayan plateau before talks can take place to settle the most protracted standoff in recent years between the nuclear-armed neighbors, who fought a bloody frontier war 55 years ago. India must pull back its troops “as soon as possible” as a precondition to demonstrate sincerity, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a daily news briefing. His comments came after weeks of saber-rattling in New Delhi and Beijing, as both sides talk up a potential clash bloodier than their 1962 war that left thousands dead. Relations swiftly deteriorating The standoff could spill over into the G-20 summit in Germany later this week where Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are expected to meet at a gathering of leaders from five emerging economies on the sidelines of the main event. The monthlong standoff and unconfirmed reports of troop buildups on both sides of the border have also underscored the swiftly deteriorating relations between the two Asian rivals headed by assertive leaders with a nationalist bent. China complained bitterly when Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, visited the contested Arunachal Pradesh region in April, which India said amounted to interference in its internal affairs. China also appeared frustrated that India has refused to join its continentwide “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure initiative, which includes a key component in Pakistan, India’s archrival but one of China’s staunchest allies. Meanwhile, India has fumed about China using its position at the United Nations to effectively stymie India’s efforts to gain permanent membership in the Security Council or label the Pakistani militant Masood Azhar a terrorist. 'Fragile, volatile relationship' Despite a litany of grievances on both sides, frequent clashes on the 3,500-kilometer (2,174-mile) shared border have been the most prominent irritant in efforts to build stable bilateral ties, said Zhang Li, an expert on China-India relations at Sichuan University. “The border clashes show how fragile and volatile the relationship can be,” Zhang said, noting that the latest flare-up took place in an area relatively free of past trouble and not previously contested. The dispute flared in June after Chinese teams began building a road on territory also claimed by Bhutan. Although China and Bhutan have been negotiating the precise border for decades without serious incident, the tiny Himalayan kingdom sought help this time from its longtime ally, India, which sent troops onto the plateau to stop the Chinese workers. Since then, videos have emerged of Indian and Chinese soldiers blocking each other with their arms and physically jostling without coming to blows. Sniping on both sides Incensed with India’s involvement, China retaliated by closing a nearby mountain pass that Indian pilgrims use to reach Mount Kailash, a sacred Hindu and Buddhist site in Tibet. China’s foreign ministry also presented to reporters historical documents that it says prove China’s claims to the plateau. That hasn’t stopped the two-way sniping. After Chinese officials said India should learn “historic lessons” from its humiliating defeat in the 1962 war, Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley responded that “India in 2017 is different from India in 1962,” in a reference to its improved military strength. While Indian media have issued shrill warnings about Chinese expansionism, Chinese state media have also ramped up their bellicose rhetoric, with the nationalist tabloid Global Times warning Wednesday that Beijing would make no concessions. Zhang, the Sichuan University professor, acknowledged the unusually tough talk from both sides but said the conduct of the two militaries and foreign ministries has been relatively restrained and “within normal bounds.” Abhijnan Rej, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank, said India needed to “show resolve” as China tries to pry away its traditional allies like Bhutan and assert itself as the region’s leader. China has “exhibited a larger pattern in the last two years” and sees itself as an Asian hegemon, Rej said. “You don’t become that by playing by the rules.” Doklam Plateau Even though the Doklam Plateau is not part of Indian territory, New Delhi has been particularly sensitive to Chinese building activity in a region with strategic significance. If linked by Chinese roads, Doklam could become a launching point for a Chinese attack on the vital Siliguri corridor, also known as the “Chicken Neck,” that connects India’s northeast with the rest of the country, Indian analysts say. Last month, India’s Ministry of Externals Affairs said Chinese actions in the area had “serious security implications.” Aside from Doklam, the two countries have vast competing territorial claims. China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh, referred to informally by some Chinese as “Southern Tibet.” India, meanwhile, says 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of the Aksai Chin plateau belongs to it. More than a dozen rounds of talks have failed to make substantial progress in the dispute, although there have been relatively few confrontations in recent years. India has also formally joined the Russian and Chinese-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organization this year alongside Pakistan. Former Indian Ambassador to Beijing C.V. Ranganathan said he was baffled by why the typical diplomatic channels that have smoothed over other flare-ups have not worked. “The fact that this has lasted so long is not a good sign,” he said. “India and China’s relationship has been on a downward trend recently and this in fact is yet another example.”
A remote Iranian desert city, Ice Age-era caves in Germany and a stone wharf in Brazil built for arriving African slave ships are three new additions to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites. The World Heritage Committee spent a week meeting in Kraków, Poland, to consider 34 significant historical and cultural sites to add to the list. This year's selections include the Iranian city of Yazd, which UNESCO describes as a "living testimony to the use of limited resources for survival in the desert." The city has managed to avoid so-called modernization that destroyed many similar Iranian towns, and has preserved its traditional homes, bazaars, mosques and synagogues. Another site UNESCO added to the list is in the Swabian Jura in southern Germany, one of the areas in Europe where humans first arrived more than 40,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. They settled in caves, first discovered in the 1860s, and where they created some of the oldest known figurative art. The U.N. cultural organization said the ancient musical instruments and prehistoric carved figures of animals and humans found in the caves help shed light on the origins of human artistic development UNESCO also placed the Valongo Wharf in central Rio de Janeiro on the World Heritage List. The stone wharves were built in the early 1800s for slave ships sailing from Africa to Brazil. UNESCO called the wharves "the most important physical trace of the arrival of African slaves on the American continent." UNESCO added the World Heritage designation to more than 22 sites during its weeklong meeting in Poland, including choices that were controversial. They include the Hoh Xil area in the China's Qinghai province, a traditionally Tibetan area. By designating this a World Heritage site, the International Camnpaign for Tibet, an advocacy group critical of China's administration there, said UNESCO endorses the forced relocation of Tibetan nomads by Chinese authorities. China has promised to preserve the traditions and cultural heritage of the Tibetan region. UNESCO also designated the Old City and Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, angering Israel. The city is split between Israeli and Palestinian control with the Old City and tomb in the Israeli sector. The tomb is sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Israel accuses UNESCO of trying to hide Jewish ties to Hebron, while Palestinians contend Israel is seeking to undermine their history.
Chinese authorities this week forbade some Tibetans from carrying out a traditional cultural and spiritual festival that happened to be on the Dalai Lama's birthday this year. The affected area includes Nagtran village, Lungtan township, and Tawu county, Ganze prefecture. On Thursday morning, Chinese soldiers patrolled an area designated for the festival, according to a Tibetan in exile who has close contacts in the area. Bangchen, a newspaper in Dharamsala, India, which is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, reported Friday that the Tibetans attempted to launch a modified incense-burning festival at a different location, but Chinese troops arrived shortly after it began and quashed the burning. A photo published in the newspaper shows curling smoke coming from a distant hillside. The festival is so important to the Tibetans in Nagtran that they secretly carried on a modified version, even during the Cultural Revolution, according to the exiled Tibetan, who asked to remain anonymous. Since the 1980s, local residents were allowed to bring back the festival and carried it on at Geki Thang (also called Gesar Thang), a location that was established 100 years ago by 5th Zogchen Rinpoche, a well-known Buddhist master in the Kham region of Tibet. The festival includes burning a massive amount of incense, a horse race and a dance performance. The festival falls on the 13th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan traditional calendar, which this year happens to be July 6, the Dalai Lama's birthday. Bangchen reported that the area became "like a battlefield" on Thursday, as police and soldiers "terrorized" the festival. In 2013, Chinese police opened fire on Tibetans in the same place as they were celebrating the Dalai Lama's 78th birthday. At least 10 Tibetans were injured, according to International Campaign for Tibet. China considers the Dalai Lama a "separatist" and attempts to prevent his influences in Tibet. His birthday is especially sensitive for the Chinese authorities. Nonetheless, many people in Tibetan areas hold different forms of celebration annually on July 6.
Thousands of Tibetans living in exile in India waved white scarves, lit incense and offered prayers in celebration of the Dalai Lama’s 82nd birthday. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetan community, cut a cake and watched a performance of cultural dances and songs by young followers Thursday in Leh, a town in the Indian-ruled portion of Kashmir where a large number of his followers live. Many Tibetans and local Ladakh people cheered the Dalai Lama as he walked nearly one kilometer (0.6 mile) along a street to a big park for his birthday celebration. He joined prayers for his long life and heard speeches by Tibetan community leaders lauding his role in promoting the Tibetan cause, said Tseten Chhoekyaba, a Tibetan spokesman. In New Delhi, the exiled Tibetan community gathered in a school and offered prayers and performed traditional dances as they celebrated the Dalai Lama’s birthday. Volunteers distributed sweet rice to supporters while schoolchildren danced. Similar celebrations were held in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala, where the Dalai Lama has been living since he fled from Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Beijing accuses him of seeking to separate Tibet from China, which he denies. China doesn’t recognize the Tibetan government-in-exile and hasn’t held any dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama since 2010.
The 3-day gathering of Dhokham Chushi Gangdrug's 21st National Conference and 47th General Body Meeting was inaugurated by Tulku Urgyen Topgyal at the Samyeling Tibetan Colony, Majnu ka Tilla in Delhi on June 22, 2017. Delegates from 25 chapters and around 13 members of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile belonging to the traditional Kham province of Tibet are participating in the conference and general body meeting. Chushi Gangdrug (Four Rivers, Six Ranges Defender of the Faith Volunteer Army) was formed in 1958 to stop the invasion of Tibet by the People's Republic of China. Currently, the organization is mainly a social welfare society with 45 chapters in different parts of the world.
Event organizer Lobsang Wangyal has to travel overseas often, but as a Tibetan refugee born in India, he did not have a passport and sometimes had to wait days to get the mandatory permits every time he went abroad. So Wangyal, whose parents fled Tibet as teenagers, went to court to demand his right to an Indian passport. In response to his petition, the Delhi High Court said authorities must abide by an earlier ruling that all Tibetans born in India between January 1950 and July 1987 are Indian citizens by birth, and can be issued passports. The order came into effect in March, and Wangyal got his Indian passport shortly thereafter, using it to go to Thailand. For the first time, he was spared the additional scrutiny that his documents always got from immigration officials. "I feel like a real person now, having obtained a passport," said Wangyal, 47, who was born in a Tibetan settlement in eastern Odisha state and now lives in the hill town Dharamsala. "Tibetans are seen as refugees and as stateless in India. Being seen that way after having been born and lived our whole lives in India is unfair and impractical," he said. 'Emotional turmoil' Tibetans have been seeking asylum in India since the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese occupation. The Tibetan spiritual leader has since lived mostly in Dharamsala in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, where his supporters run a small government in exile and advocate for autonomy for Tibet by peaceful means. More than 100,000 Tibetans live in 39 formal settlements and dozens of informal communities across India. They generally arrive via Nepal, after a perilous trek across the Himalayas. The Indian government has funded schools to provide free education for Tibetans, and reserved seats in medical and engineering colleges. Those eligible can get voter identification cards. But Tibetans do not have citizenship rights, which limits their access to government jobs and freedom of movement within and outside India. They cannot own land or property. In some states, they cannot get driving licenses or bank loans. Those without identity documents are at risk of harassment, arrests and deportation to China. "The status of statelessness is demoralizing and frustrating. There's a lot of emotional turmoil," said Tenzin Tselha, an activist with Students for a Free Tibet, whose father served in the Indian army. "Sometimes I eat rice and daal [lentils] more than thukpa [Tibetan noodle soup], but I never feel Indian; I am Tibetan. It drains my energy, this struggle to always prove who I am and where I am from," she said. Foreigners by law India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which spells out refugee rights and state responsibilities to protect them. Nor does it have a domestic law to protect the more than 200,000 refugees it currently hosts, including Tibetans, Sri Lankans, Afghans, Bangladeshis and Rohingyas from Myanmar. They are all considered foreigners by law. Tibetan refugees get "enough rights and benefits," and not everyone wants citizenship, said Sonam Norbu Dagpo, a spokesman for the Central Tibetan Administration, the government in exile. "Even those Tibetan refugees who qualify for Indian citizenship do not apply for citizenship," he said. While the number of refugees across the world has risen in recent years, the number of Tibetans arriving in India has fallen significantly since 2008, following a crackdown by China, which considers Tibet a renegade province. Only 87 Tibetans registered in Dharamsala in 2015, compared with about 2,500 each year before 2008. "India's policy towards refugees has always been dictated by geopolitical compulsions," said Saurabh Bhattacharjee, a professor at the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata. But beyond ensuring basic protections and civic amenities for all refugees, India must consider the status of Tibetan refugees more carefully, he said. "Will they always remain refugees," he said, "or should they be given some sort of permanent resident status, as they have been here for so long and have little chance of being repatriated?" More rights Recent court orders and the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy of 2014 promise more rights and benefits. The policy proposes, for the first time, to give refugees welfare benefits on par with Indians, subsidies for some college courses, more job options and greater ease in getting documents. It does not address property ownership, getting government jobs, or traveling freely within and outside India. But the issue of rights and citizenship is also an emotional one that divides the community. "I don't think it's important to have citizenship rights or to have an Indian passport," said Dorjee Tsering, 28, who works in a store in Dharamsala selling Free Tibet T-shirts and sweatshirts. "We may face some problems, but we should sacrifice a little to preserve our heritage and identity." But for Wangyal, who fought for a passport, more rights are necessary. "I would like the right to own property. A little house and a small business would be good to live a decent life," he said. "Tibetans will fight on for Free Tibet, but at the same time we have to live our lives now."
Tibetans and supporters of all ages from various parts of Minnesota warmly welcomed the Dalai Lama on his arrival in Minneapolis after completing his high profile visit to the United State’s west coast cities. The President of the Tibetan Association of Minnesota tells VOA that around 400 Tibetans attended the welcome ceremony organized by the Tibetan community for Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama’s Representative to North America, Mr. Penpa Tsering says that the Tibetan spiritual leader has no scheduled program on June 21st and from June 22, he will be participating in a humanitarian panel discussion organized by the Starky Foundation along with Starky's owner, Bill Austin. The Nobel Laureate will also be addressing the foundation's two thousand employees.
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in Dharamsala, North India launched four animations in Tibetan to preserve the Tibetan language among the younger generation under its Department of Education. Mr. Tsering Samdup, Education Incharge of CTA said that the purpose of the animations were to fill the void of not having adequate animations in Tibetan and to provide assistance to Tibetans in the animation profession. Out of the four animations launched today, two were made from books published earlier by the Education Department and the rest was dubbed from Hindi language on the life of Buddha.
Presently a monk at Namgyal monastery, Dharamsala, Kusho Thupten Yarphel tells the riveting story of how he grew up as a shepherd in Tsang, and his role as one of the four monks and four nuns who protested in the Barkhor in 1989 and ignited the largest Lhasa demonstration since 1959. Kusho Yarphel has worked on nearly 200 books and authored nine of them himself. This is an inspiring story of an ordinary boy from Shigatse who pushed himself beyond all limits to become one of the foremost writers and scholars on ancient Tibetan history and culture in exile.
Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama arrived in Rochester, Minnesota to a warm welcome from the local Tibetan community and supporters on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. The Dalai Lama is scheduled for his routine annual medical check-up at the Mayo Clinic, after which the Nobel Laureate will head to San Diego, California. The Dalai Lama will speak at US San Diego on Friday, June 16, followed by a public talk and the keynote commencement address on June 17, 2017.
Congressman Jim McGovern is calling for a new U.S. policy on Tibet, saying “the status quo isn’t working” and urging U.S. businesses to raise the issue of human rights in Tibet with Chinese business partners. “It’s important that the U.S. have a policy toward Tibet because the status quo isn’t working,” McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, told VOA Mandarin. “The Chinese government is just getting worse on a whole range of issues — jailing more and more Tibetans in Tibet and in the Tibetan region, so I think we need to re-assess. ... We need to start walking the walk.” Watch: US Congressman Calls for New US Policy on Tibet China says the Himalayan region has been part of its realm for more than seven centuries and considers the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, to be a dangerous separatist. Many Tibetans insist they were essentially independent for most of that time and have protested what they regard as China’s heavy-handed rule since Chinese army units crossed the Yangtze River into eastern Tibet in 1950. Congressional visit Last month, McGovern traveled to Nepal and the north Indian hill town of Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama has been in exile from Tibet for almost 60 years. The eight-person House delegation led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, wanted to make China aware that they would not stand down in their campaign for human rights in Tibet. Watch: US Congressman Calls for China to Show Flexibility on Tibet The delegation, including a lone Republican, Wisconsin’s Jim Sensenbrenner, met with the Dalai Lama. “His Holiness is not a separatist … but he wants to go home and so do his people,” McGovern said. “China is one of the great powers of the world, they’re doing great things on climate change,” he said, adding he’s always puzzled that China “is paranoid over this monk, and paranoid over his message.” McGovern is the sponsor of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017. He introduced the bipartisan bill in the House in April with Congressman Randy Hultgren, a Republican from Illinois. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, and Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Watch: US Congressman Poses Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act Travel in US McGovern described his bill as saying “we will treat you like you treat us” in that it calls for restricting where Chinese can visit in the United States in the same way China restricts United States officials, journalists and other citizens in Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China. “If China wants its citizens and officials to travel freely in the U.S., Americans must be able to travel freely in China, including Tibet,” McGovern echoes on his website. He also wants the U.S. to “publicly call on the Chinese government to restart the direct dialog that used to exist between the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. That needs to be restarted.” McGovern said he wants the United States to appoint a special coordinator on Tibet as soon as possible to help elevate these issues. “We’ve also talked about working with other countries and establishing what we call A Group of Friends on Tibet who would meet regularly and publicly to assess the situation in Tibet, and whether there’s been progress or not,” he added. Watch: US Congressman: US Firms Can Raise Issue of Tibet With Chinese Counterparts McGovern, who is co-chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, told VOA that while U.S. and Chinese companies profit from trading with each other, if U.S. companies “know what’s happening and you don’t say anything [about human rights in Tibet], then you’re complicit. China wants to do business with you. You want to do business with China but that doesn’t mean you can’t raise the issue of human rights.” In the interview with VOA Mandarin, McGovern, who has been arrested three times protesting human rights violations in Sudan, said he is also concerned about human rights in Hong Kong, and China’s treatment of the ethnic minority group, the Uighurs. ‘We’re not perfect’ Listing hate crimes and attacks against members of the Muslim community, threats against Jewish community centers and hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, McGovern said he also worries about human rights in the United States, “so we’re not perfect.” None of that, however, should lessen the attention paid to Tibet, McGovern said. “I think the Chinese government thinks this issue will just go away. The Dalai Lama is in his 80s, and they think at some point he won’t be around and everybody will forget,” McGovern said. But, he stressed, “we’re not going away, and this issue is not going away, and we’re going to keep on bringing it up over, and over, and over again until there’s some change.” This story originated with VOA Mandarin.
“There she is, walking on air she is, fairest of fair she is” … Miss Tibet. Tenzin Paldon, 21, emerged from the largest ever field of contestants - nine - to take the title of Miss Tibet at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamshala, the city that is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. “My feet aren’t touching the ground at the moment,” Paldon told VOA Tibetan in comments that echoed the lyrics to the song “There She Is, Miss America” soon after she was crowned. “I hope to inspire people and … be a good role model for younger Tibetans.” Tenzin Khechoe, 22, a nursing student from Bangalore, India, who wants to become a doctor, was the first runner-up. Tenzin Nordron Zalutsang, 21, a second-year history student, was the second runner-up in the event, which included a swimsuit competition on June 2, "talk and talent" competition on June 3, and the finale with the women, who were interviewed, competing in evening gowns and traditional Tibetan costumes. Paldon, who has a degree in aviation management, is a cabin crew member with SpiceJet Airlines and a model. Paldon also took the Miss Photogenic title, which was decided by online voting. Out of 14,285 votes, Paldon received 5,161 or 36 percent of the total. Beyond the honor, the winners received travel and cash prizes. WATCH VIDEO: Diaspora contestants Paldon, like the other contestants, belongs to the Tibetan diaspora. She is from Kollegal, a Tibetan agricultural settlement in south India. Although most of the contestants live in India, nursing student Migmar Dolma, 22, arrived from New York City, and Saldon, 19, who goes by one name, came to the event from Vienna, Austria. All the women participated in a swimsuit contest, which caused waves, or as one headline proclaimed, “Beauty queens' raunchy poses shock ENTIRE country” after the women displayed some flesh. This year, the contestants ranged in age from 19 to 25. Lobsang Wangyal, the entrepreneurial impresario behind the Miss Tibet and the Miss Himalaya pageants, described all nine women as “beautiful, intelligent and ambitious" to The Tibet Post. He described the Miss Tibet contest, which was the subject of a 2015 documentary, as a traditional pageant with a higher calling. “There is a tendency for Tibetans to be only seen as a people that are in struggle against the Chinese, as a culture that is predominantly made up of Buddhist monks and nuns, as nomads who herd yaks,” according to the event’s website. “Or as people who are on pilgrimage to sacred sites or who live in caves in the mountains of Tibet. “To have international support for the plight of the Tibetan people, it is important to have many different venues to create awareness,” it continues, pointing out that the Miss Tibet winners may attend international beauty competitions. "To have representation in events like these will create awareness about the Tibetan cause for a population that may not generally know about Tibet, yet which is composed of millions of men and women who could potentially be Tibet supporters,” the website says. Lobsang announced the 2017 Miss Tibet pageant would be his last. This report originated with VOA Tibetan.
Empowering the Vision Project (ENVISION), a trust based in New Delhi, in collaboration with four other Tibetan student organizations in Delhi organized a career and admission guidance workshop under the theme "Mission Admission 2017" for Tibetan students wanting to join Delhi University at Samyeling Tibetan Colony, Majnu ka Tilla, Delhi for two days from June 6 - 7, 2017. All the resource persons were members belonging to different Tibetan student organizations in Delhi. The online registration process of Delhi University 2017 admission started on May 22, 2017 and will close on June 12, 2017. The notification of first admission list will be released on June 20, 2017. Delhi University will commence classes for various courses on July 20, 2017. Around 200 Tibetan students have already applied for admission in various courses at Delhi university.
James Patrick McGovern, a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Massachusetts's 2nd congressional district spoke to VOA Mandarin reporter Peggy Chang on his 2015 trip to Tibet, his call for a new US policy on Tibet, and HR 4851, The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, which he recently introduced in the US House of Representatives.
Karmapa Rinpoche, the head of Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, who is often regarded by international media as the third highest Tibetan lama, said he will return to Tibet and "share the happiness and misery” with Tibetans when situation allows him to be of benefit to the Tibetan people. After spending 17 years in exile, Karmapa has said for the first time in public that he had left a written message behind when he escaped for India in 1999. “In it, I wrote ‘I have made many failed efforts to be able to go abroad. Now having no other option, I am doing this way as a final solution. However, in the future if I could be beneficial to Tibet, the Land of Snow, I will return soon,’ that’s what I wrote,” he said, speaking in Tibetan to about 4,000 Tibetans and devotees in Toronto, Canada on Sunday, June 4. He had previously said that the Chinese authorities had turned down his multiple requests to travel to India before his escape. When Karmapa, then 14 year-old, met with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, North India for the first time on January 5, 2000, he reportedly told Tibet's spiritual leader that he came to India because he could not serve the Tibetan people in Tibet under the current circumstances. Karmapa secretly left his monastery in Tibet on December 28, 1999 after announcing that he was going to follow a strict retreat at his monastery near Lhasa. When the young Karmapa suddenly arrived in Dharamsala on January 5 2000, it shocked the world and humiliated Beijing. After a period of awkward silence, the Chinese authorities announced that Karmapa had left a message, in which he had said that he was going to India to obtain a sacred hat that belonged to his predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, who had left it in Rumtek Monastery in India. However, Karmapa dismissed that statement in 2001, according to the Guardian. “Why would I want to bring the hat back from India? All that accomplish would be to place the hat to Jiang Zemin’s head,” he reportedly said. Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje is the 17th Karmapa recognized by both the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government in 1992. However, a Tibetan lama in India named Shamer Rinpoche recognized another Tibetan boy in 1994 named Tinley Thaye Dorje as the 17th Karmapa. Since then, there has been a dispute among the followers of Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The followers of Shamer Rinpoche, who is also a high lama in Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism recognize Tinley Thaye Dorje, who has recently declared he was no longer going to be a monk, as the 17th Karmapa. Although Karmapa is the head of only Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the 17th Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje has received great respect and hope from across Tibetan communities. Often described in international media as the third highest lama of Tibet, Karmapa also draws worldwide popularity. Karmapa was met by Prince Charles in London as he stopped by the United Kingdom for the first time, and upon his arrival in Canada, the Tibetan lama was welcomed by some members of the Canadian parliament.
The Former Union Defense Minister and prominent supporter of Tibetan cause, Shri George Fernandes' 87th birthday was held at his residence on June 3, 2017. The secretary of Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, Tsewang Gyalpo Arya delivered the birthday greetings from the President of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, and the Deputy Speaker of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok. Dr. Lobsang Sangay's message reads: "On behalf of my colleagues in the Kashag and the Tibetans in and outside Tibet, I wish you all the life's blessings and positive karma.... Your steadfast contributions will be etched in the memory of Tibetans and the history of Tibet." The message from the Deputy Speaker reads: "You have always considered the issue of Tibet as global concern and we, the Tibetan people would like to thank you for the motivation and inspiration that really encourages us to carry forward our just cause." Mr. Lekyi Dorje, head of the Tibetan community in Delhi presented a Buddha statue to thank his unwavering support for the Tibetan cause. The health of former Defense Minister George Fernandes who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease is deteriorating day by day, and has been away from politics and public limelight since 2010. In 1998 as a defense minister, he said that for India, "China is the potential threat No. 1." He founded the Samata Party in 1994, which later merged with Janta Dal United. The party currently holds power in India's Bihar state.
The Tibetan Youth Congress based in Dharamsala, North India organized a symposium titled, "Tibet's Environment Asia's Security" at the India International Center in New Delhi on June 4, 2017. The main speaker at the symposium was the former minister of Indian government Shri Manishankar Iyer, who expressed concerns regarding the United States' recent decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord under the administration of President Donald Trump. "This has made China the greatest supporter of climate change accord. However, China is destroying Tibet's environment at the same time. This has become a serious matter of concern for all of us," said Mr. Iyer. Professor Maharaj Pandit of Delhi University; Mr. Tempa Gyaltsen of Tibetan Policy Research Center in Dharamsala; and Ms. Lobsang Yangtso, PhD research scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University were among the other speakers.
Tenzin Paldon, 21, from Kollegal, India was crowned the 2017 Miss Tibet at the fifteenth annual pageant held in Dharamsala, North India on June 4, 2017. Paldon graduated from the Frankfinn Institute with a degree in aviation management and is currently working as an air hostess/cabin crew with the Spice Jet airlines. The winner was announced following a three day competition among the nine contestants including the swimsuit round on June 2nd, talk and talent round on the 3rd, and the grand finale was held on June 4th with introduction, gown, traditional costume, and interview rounds. The organizer of the pageant, Lobsang Wangyal, also announced that this will be his production company's last Miss Tibet, but that the pageant can continue if someone buys the franchise.
Shokjang, a prominent Tibetan writer and blogger who was sentenced to a three year prison term by the People’s Intermediate Court in Rebgong, Malho (Huangnan) Prefecture, Qinghai Province on February 15 of last year is currently serving his sentence at the Men-Yuan county prison located in China’s Qinghai Province. Shokjung is the pen name of Druklo, a prolific young writer from Gengya, a township within the Labrang district in Amdo, who has not only written heartfelt prose and poetry that looks at life in Tibet today, but also comment on the use and misuse of law and security from a common man’s perspective. Shokjang was first detained in 2010 while still attending the Lanzhou Minority University. He and fellow student Teurang were arrested for writing about the Tibetan protests of 2008 and the harsh responses from government forces. At that time, Shokjung was eventually released after a short period but Teurang was given and served a four year sentence. On March 19, 2015, Chinese security police in Rebkong arrested the young Tibetan blogger Shokjung and his brother in law. While his fellow detainee has been released since then, Shokjung remains under detention without any charges filed against him. According to sources, family members and friends are strictly restricted from visiting the imprisoned dissident. Individuals with necessary documents including an ID card and approval letter from their local police office are allowed a five minute visitation if they spoke in Tibetan, and an increased thirty minute visitation time if the conversation took place in Chinese instead. Unlike other inmates, political prisoners and their conversations are closely monitored by the prison guards.
In his first ever visit to Canada, the 17th Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism paid a visit to the Ontario Legislative Assembly and attended the fifth anniversary of Tibet Day at the invitation of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, Canada at the provincial parliament on May 30, 2017. Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje also met with five members of the legislative assembly and thanked them for their support for Tibet and Tibetans settled in Ontario area, and urged the officials to continue their support towards Tibetans in Canada. Mr. Sonam Langkar, the President of the Toronto Tibetan Association, along with members of the local Tibetan community attended the event. Karmapa and his entourage toured the legislative assembly building following the gathering, and as part of the Tibet Day celebration, the organizers with the help from local Tibetans prepared traditional Tibetan cuisine.