INAUGURAL SPEECH OF KALON TRIPA DR. LOBSANG SANGAY
Third directly elected Kalon Tripa, Dr. Lobsang Sangay (L), takes oath of office and secrecy before the Chief JusticeCommissioner of the Central Tibetan Administration, Mr Ngawang Phelgyal, (R) at the swearing-in ceremonyat Tsuglagkhang, the main temple, in Dharamsala, on 8 August 2011/Photo by Namgyal TsewangMy fellow Tibetans:Today on this auspicious day when Guru Rinpoche, the great Indian yogi who spreadBuddhism in Tibet, was born, and in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our mostrevered leader, I accept, with deep humility, the post of the Kalon Tripa.We invoke the spirit and call on the Gods and Goddesses of Tibet to watch over and guideus. My profound gratitude goes out to the overwhelming support of brave men and women inexile, and the enduring solidarity and support of our brave brothers and sisters in occupied Tibet.We are motivated by their support and sustained by their prayers.Blessed spiritually by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and authorized politically to continue theextended historical legitimacy of the great institution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I am here2 / 2not as a result of my personal achievement but as a result of the hard work and sacrifices madeby elder generations in Tibet and in exile. Today, I pledge to carry on and build upon this greatlegacy of our elders. I pledge to you, my fellow Tibetans, to strengthen and sustain ourmovement until freedom is restored in Tibet, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama returns to ourhomeland.Over one century ago, in 1910, His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama, took one last glance atthe Potala Palace before leaving his homeland and promised to his people: “I shall return.” Ourancestors at the time did not have modern education and sophistication, but with dedication andunity they work tirelessly to make the return of His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama possible. HisHoliness returned to Lhasa in early 1913 and reaffirmed Tibet’s independence from China.Almost half a century later, the same pledge to return was poignantly repeated by HisHoliness the 14th Dalai Lama as he departed Lhasa on the fateful night of March, 17, 1959.Today, the responsibility to help ensure the return of His Holiness is with our generation ofTibetans who have modern education and sophistication. But do we have dedication, unity andcommitment to make tireless effort like our ancestors? If we do, we will prevail. If we don't, wefail.No doubt, our task is of Himalayan proportion. But we take inspiration from thousands ofother brave Tibetans who, throughout our history, have given up their lives and devoted theirhearts to Tibet. We have been tragically separated by force, not by choice, and, we will reach themountaintop of freedom to reunite Tibetans on both sides of Himalayas.I promise to work to fulfill the vision of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to create a trulysecular democratic society. This year's dynamic Tibetan election demonstrated to the world ourcommitment to genuine democracy and the universal principle of human freedom. Ourdemocratic election reveals that Tibetan unity is built upon and sustained by universal democraticprinciples that transcend region, sect, gender, and generations.3 / 3Outgoing Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche (R) handing over the Official Seal of the Kashag to new Kalon TripaDr Lobsang Sangay (L), at the swearing-in ceremony at Tsuglagkhang, the main temple, in Dharamsala,on 8 August 2011The results of this election should send a clear message to the hardliners in the Chinesegovernment that Tibetan leadership is far from fizzling out – we are democracy that will onlygrow stronger in years ahead. And we are here to stay.Let me be very clear: our struggle is not against the Chinese people, nor is it againstChina as a country. Our struggle is against hard-line policies of the Chinese regime in Tibet. Ourstruggle is against those who would deny freedom, justice, dignity, and the very identity ofTibetan People. Chinese authorities and our Chinese friends alike must realize that grievances ofTibetan people are many and genuine.Today, my fellow Tibetans, I reaffirm in the oath and aspiration forged by our forefathers– a treaty signed more then a millennia ago by Tibet and China that pledged a great epoch when“Tibetans shall be happy in the land of Tibet and Chinese in the land of China”.In 1950, when the Chinese Army first came to Tibet, they promised “Socialist Paradise” forTibetans. Some Tibetans helped build roads to Tibet from China and were paid in Silver coins fortheir labor. During that time, the Chinese soldiers were very polite and treated our ancestorskindly.4 / 4However, once the roads were built, tanks encircled strategic urban areas, lorries headedstraight to the mineral-rich mountains and pristine forests: and Chinese workers arrived to exploitand mine billions of dollars of gold, copper, and uranium. Overnight, it seemed, something hadchanged. The polite Chinese soldiers changed and became overbearing, aggressive, and violent.They used their guns. Battles erupted. Death and destruction ensued.The great epoch of happiness was put into peril. And since that time, I fear, Tibetans havebecome second class citizens in their own homeland.The ongoing political repression, cultural assimilation, economic marginalization andenvironmental destruction in occupied Tibet is unacceptable. The construction of new Railway Linebrings each day more heavy equipment to exploit mineral resources and more Chinese migrantsto demographically dominate Tibet and dilute our rich culture and identity. Today's empirical factsare startling: around seventy percent of the private sector is owned or run by Chinese, and morethan fifty percent of public sector jobs of the local Communist Party cadre are also held by theChinese. Meanwhile, nearly forty percent of our Tibetan brothers and sisters who have workedhard and earned university and high school degrees are unemployed. These statistics are madeworse, as we all know, by Chinese officials who treat Tibet as their personal inheritance, and actas feudal lords.But three years ago, in 2008, Tibetans men and women, young and old, nomads andfarmers, monks and nuns, all rose up against the Chinese rule in Tibet - from Dromo toDhartsedo, Ngari to Ngaba, from Lhasa to Lithang, from Kongpo to Kumbum. They spoke outagainst Chinese oppression and mistreatment and the universal slogan was: we want His Holinessthe Dalai Lama return to Tibet. Let me be clear: the Tibetan Administration does not encourageprotest in part because we cannot forget the harsh response Chinese authorities hand down inthe face of free and peaceful expression. However, it is our sacred duty to support and to be thevoice for our voiceless and courageous compatriots.After sixty years of misrule, Tibet is no Socialist Paradise that Chinese officials promised.There is no “Socialism” in Tibet, but rather Colonialism. Tibet is not the “Paradise” that it couldbe: today, it is a tragedy because of the Chinese occupation. Chinese government ought to knowit. Recently, many Chinese leaders have visited Lhasa to observe sixty years of “peacefulliberation”. The reality is that the anniversary was observed under undeclared martial law withtroops holding automatic machine guns, marching in the streets of Lhasa, sharp shooterspositioned on rooftops, tourists banned from visiting Tibet entirely. Bejing’s rule in Tibet is clearlyunjust and untenable.Despite the tragedy in Tibet, we want the world to know, especially Chinese friends, thatwe remain firmly committed to non-violence. We do not view China as a nation and Chinese as apeople with malice but with respect. Guided by the wisdom of our forefathers and foremothers,5 / 5we will continue the Middle-Way policy, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet within thePeople's Republic of China. This, my fellow Tibetans, is a win-win proposition for both theTibetans and the Chinese. We believe in a peaceful resolution for Tibet, which means a peacefulprocess and peaceful dialogue. We are also willing to negotiate with the Chinese governmentanytime, anywhere.Let's not forget: China aspires to be a superpower. It is the fastest growing majoreconomy in the world and is backed by the largest army in the world. Sadly, however, China'smoral power is lacking behind. Moral power cannot be bought in the market or forced withmilitary might. It has to be earned. As long as Tibetans are repressed, there will be resistance,and waning respect for China. Finding a lasting solution to the Tibet question will go a long waytoward restoring China’s positive image in the minds and hearts of people around the world, aswell as towards protecting its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Chinese people in Chinaand the Greater Chinese diasporic community have a key role to play in helping China overcomethis moral deficiency.Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay delivers his inaugural speech during the swearing-in ceremony at Tsuglagkhang, themain temple, in Dharamsala, on 8 August 20116 / 6I have sixteen years record of reaching out to hundreds of Chinese students and haveorganized conferences on Tibet between Chinese and Tibetan scholars at Harvard University. Wewill continue to reach out to the Chinese people to build mutual understanding and trust. I wouldlike to extent our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the United States, Europe, internationalcommunity and Tibet Support Groups for their enduring support. We appeal to them to continueto stand with us for justice, freedom, dignity, and equality, and to persuade Beijing to resolve theissue of Tibet peacefully. A lasting solution to the situation in Tibet will be one of the mostdefining stories of the 21st century for it will reaffirm faith in humanity’s capacity to build peace,non-violence and universal freedom. This would be a victory not only for the Tibetan people, butfor all the marginalized people around the world.A just and speedy resolution of the issue of Tibet is in the interest of all Asia. Forthousands of years, the Tibetan people served as responsible guardian of the environment of theworld's highest and largest plateau that is the source of ten major rivers that contribute to thelivelihood of more than 2 billion human beings. China's damming of rivers that originate fromTibet will undermine the livelihood of millions of people downstream in Asia. It is for this reason,millions of people in Asia have a vested interest in seeing that the Tibetan people are restored totheir traditional role of being the responsible guardian of the environment of the Tibetan Plateau.This transcends politics. It touches upon the wellbeing and welfare of Asia.We remain eternally grateful to the people and the government of India for offering theTibetan people refuge and for allowing us to remain as guests for the past five decades. For thoseof us who live here, India is our second home. The Tibetan Administration will uphold andcontinue to honor the special relationship between the Tibetan and the Indian people. Our debt tothe Indian government and its people is already enormous. But our work together continues. Wehumbly appeal for your continued support and kind consideration to treat Tibet as one of the coreissues between India and China.For the next five years, with unity, innovation and self-reliance as our guiding principles,the Tibetan Administration will strengthen the freedom movement, and sustain it for another fiftyyears, if need be. I urge Tibetans inside and outside to support the Lhakar Movement to be proudof and assert Tibetanness - to show solidarity, to embrace unity, and to keep alive the Tibetanspirit - for together, I know we will foster a dynamic environment and strengthen Tibetaninstitutions and communities around the world.Education will be our number one priority. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama has taught us,sharing knowledge is “a way to achieve immortality”. It is the beacon that will light the future ofTibet. We will strive to reach 10,000 professionals among 150,000 in exile and appeal to Tibetansinside Tibet to reach 100,000 in the next two decades.7 / 7We will also continue to professionalize the Tibetan Administration and ensure greateraccess and transparency through the integration of technology and social networking tools. Tothis end, in the months ahead we will establish a Tibet Policy Institute that will serve as anintellectual platform to envision, develop, and execute policies that will strengthen Tibet. We willalso establish Sister Shichaks (settlements) to strengthen solidarity between Tibetans in Indiaand the West and introduce Tibet Corps, a movement that will invite skills and know-how ofTibetans within and abroad to serve Tibet, and create employment for youth and build sustainableshichaks (settlements).Along with all other Tibetans, I am profoundly grateful to Professor Samdhong Rinpoche for hisleadership over the past decade. And I thank him and the able members of his cabinet for theirheartwarming hospitality and productive support during this smooth transition of administrations.Going forward, I will abide by the Charter and Supreme Justice Commission, and extend my fullco-operation and partnership to the honorable speakers and gentlemen and women of thefifteenth parliament, and lead our very capable and dedicated civil servants in the fulfillment ofthis pledge.In conclusion, it is important to remember that the devolution of His Holiness the DalaiLama’s political power is not at all solely to me as the Kalon Tripa, but to all Tibetans. HisHoliness’ trust and belief in the people and our 50 years of consolidation of democraticinstitutions now will be challenged to survive and thrive independently, without his politicalinvolvement. So this is a test for each of us. It is a test, for the leadership in the judiciary, for theparliament and for the executive branch to live up to His Holiness’ expectations and to work as aneffective and united entity. This is our challenge and our opportunity.I speak with particular urgency to the younger generations of Tibetans. We need yoursupport, your energy, and your talent to stand tall and march forward to freedom. Let us neverforget: during our lifetime, our freedom struggle will meet the fate of justice or defeat. Tibet willeither appear or disappear from the map of the world. Tibetans, as a people, will be alive orbecome a museum piece. Tibetan perseverance and pride, wit and will, courage and commitment,will be truly tested.This is no time for simply criticism and cynicism. This is a time for courage, and a time forconviction. Above all, it is time for confidence in the belief that we are Tibetans and we can do it.The time has come for the younger generation to take a greater leadership role in both internaland international forums. Remember: if we do not, no one will.Of this, we can be certain too, my fellow Tibetans: like the successful return of HisHoliness the 13th Dalai Lama to Tibet, the opportunity will arise and our day will come. Like ourdedicated and united ancestors, if we are not united and prepared to accept the challengestogether, we will fail. Unity is paramount and it simply cannot be compromised; it is the bedrock8 / 8of our movement. Any failure to attain unity will solely be our fault. We should do our utmost notto disappoint the majority of compatriots in Tibet who have put their faith in us, and who will beclosely watching every step we take from today onward. However, thankfully we take comfort inthe knowledge that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our most revered leader, is very much in ourmidst to offer his wisdom.During my first audience as the Kalon Tripa elect earlier this year, I was reminded by HisHoliness the Dalai Lama that I was sitting on the same spot when I first met him nearly twodecade ago, in 1992. His Holiness told me that my term as the Kalon Tripa will be good and I amcommitted to making his words come true. However, my two hands alone are not nearly enough.I request you to lend me your 12 million hands in realizing the words of the present Dalai Lamaon the fateful night of March 17, 1959 that “he shall return” to Tibet.For my brothers and sisters in Tibet, I say to you with confidence today: we will meetsoon. Though I have never been allowed to set foot in Tibet, Tibet is in my heart each and everyday. I am proud to be born a Tibetan and I will be proud to die as one. While I live, I amdetermined to fight for our freedom. My late father, like many of our parents, could not return toTibet. But this, my fellow Tibetans, will not be the story of all Tibetans. Together, we will ensurethe return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, reunite our people, and restore freedom inTibet.Today, we are in the holy land of India, where the Lord Shakyamuni attained Buddhahood.Next we will meet in the holy land of Tibet, where Buddhism is the heart and soul of six millionTibetans. We are always ready to embark on this epic journey from Dharamsala, the abode ofDharma, to Lhasa, the abode of Gods. From the town where His Holiness the Dalai Lama lives, tothe city where he belongs.This is our aspiration. This is our struggle. This is our dream. And with unity, innovation,and self-reliance as the guiding principles of six million Tibetans, victory will be ours. Long LiveHis Holiness the Dalai Lama.Bod Gyalo.
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