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Shaping Tibet’s Political Future

By Tenzin Samten  /  October 11, 2017;

His Holiness at Five-fifty Forum
Photo: tibet.net

Five-Fifty Forum: Shaping Tibet’s Political Future – a three-day forum was organised by the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan exile government and residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, the President of Tibetan Government-in-exile, also known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), explained that against the background of changes in the global political environment, the three-day forum was organised to discuss strategies for how to resolve the issue of Tibet, based on the Middle Way Approach, within next five years – while securing the future of the Tibetan people for the next 50 years.

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, former Kalon Tripa (the former title for the head of the CTA) addressed the Five-Fifty Forum, expressing his views on the current status of Tibet and the prospects for future changes. He explained that the issue of Tibet is multifaceted and can be interpreted in many ways, and that in order to understand the status of Tibet, one needs to understand Tibet’s culture, religion, wisdom and the political reality of Tibet and its people.

Rinpoche lauded His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s leadership under which Tibetans have thrived to reach their current success. “It is the charisma of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his futuristic vision for Tibet that ensured the strength and security of the Tibetan people till now,” he said. He also expressed his concern, “In the absence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibet could be on the verge of its darkest days. In such a scenario, only the democratic administration established by His Holiness would be able to steer the Tibetan people”. Rinpoche further requested Forum participants to take part in the discussions wholeheartedly, as the fruits of their deliberation will affect the younger generation of Tibetans in the near future.

Participants with His Holiness
Photo: tibet.net

185 participants took part in the Forum and included some of the top political strategists, politicians, communication experts, scholars, activists, writers and bloggers from 21 countries. CTA President Sikyong Lobsang Sangay said on the opening day, “We have chosen each one of you [attendees] individually by looking into your longstanding contribution towards the Tibet cause, or for your expertise and experience in the field of international relations”. He requested that participants share their advice as frankly as they would do to their respective governments as their input will be used to formulate the strategies for any future course of action.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced the second day of the meeting. His Holiness spoke about the history of Tibet and how it has suffered under the turmoil caused by China’s repression. He also referred to the valour showed by Tibetans inside Tibet in preserving the age old culture and traditions of Tibet in the face of China’s constant efforts to demolish them.

Speaking to the participants about supporting Tibet, His Holiness said, “There are many communities fighting for freedom around the world. However, most of them employ violence to achieve their goals. Tibetans on the other hand have always been committed to the methods of peace and non-violence despite the hardships that we have faced”. His Holiness reiterated his call for the inclusion of secular education in academic curricula as modern education’s focusing only on material development is insufficient to create a holistic happiness.

CTA President delivering the concluding remark
Photo: tibet.net

The meeting concluded on October 8 after intensive discussions on the future course of the Tibetan movement. According to the report of the Forum published on the CTA website, the four main items for deliberation were:seeking constructive dialogue and negotiations with the Peoples Republic of China; Tibet’s core relationship with India and Asia; the CTA’s International relations and advocacy; and the CTA leadership.

On the final day Sikyong Lobsang Sangay presented an award for exemplary philanthropy to Yodon Thonden in recognition and appreciation of the contribution she has made to the Tibetan freedom movement. Yodon Thonden, together with her husband Kevin Toner and their Isdell Foundation, which they established in 1994, have contributed over US$7 million (£5.3 million) to various Tibetan projects in India, North America, Europe and Tibet.

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