As hundreds of Tibetans gathered at Tusglakhang temple in McLeodganj overlooking Dharamsala town to celebrate the occasion of 78th birthday of their religious head, the Dalai Lama on Saturday, the elected leadership of the Tibetan administration in-exile once again reiterated its firm commitment to the middle-way approach advocated by the spiritual leader.
The exiled community offered a prayer led by Lamas of Nechung monastery for the long life of the Dalai Lama, which was followed by a cultural function. The function was attended by hundreds of Tibetans, monks, nuns, schoolchildren and officials of the Central Tibetan Administration.
Addressing the gathering on behalf of Sikyong (Tibetan Prime Minister in-exile), Lobsang Sangay, Kalon for religion and culture, Pema Chhinjor, who is also the officiating PM, said the Dalai Lama's outreach to Chinese students and scholars was changing their mindset towards the Tibet issue.
“His Holiness' outreach to Chinese students and scholars and his teachings to Chinese Buddhist practitioners are shaping Chinese attitudes towards Tibet and Tibetans,” said Chhinjor, reading a statement of Sangay, political successor of the Dalai Lama.
Chhinjor said the Tibetan democracy in-exile from its infancy to the present time consolidated state was the result of decades of efforts by the Dalai Lama.
Concerned over the spate of self-immolation protests, Chhinjor said as of today 119 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet and their aspiration is the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for homeland.
“At this critical period of our struggle, Tibetans in-exile and diaspora must utilise this democracy and freedom responsibly to show solidarity with and highlight the suffering of Tibetans in Tibet, challenge the hard-line policies of the Chinese government, and unite all Tibetans,” he said.
Reiterating CTA's firm commitment to middle-way approach that seeks greater autonomy for people in Tibet rather than complete independence, Chhinjor said the middle-path advocated by the Dalai Lama for peaceful resolution of Tibet issue was steadily bearing results in the minds of many Chinese people, particularly intellectuals.
“Some of the brightest Chinese intellectual luminaries, including Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel Laureate, were signatories of a courageous open letter in 2008 that expressed support for the Dalai Lama's peace initiatives,” he said.
“On the auspicious occasion of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama's 78th birthday, the CTA reiterates its firm commitment to the middle-way approach in resolving the Tibet issue. Since assuming office in August 2011, we have proceeded with a three-phase approach of consolidation, action and dialogue,” he said.
Elaborating further, Chhinjor said the consolidation phase that spanned much of the first year was important to ensure a smooth transition after the Dalai Lama's historic decision to devolve political authority to a democratically-elected leader while action phase was aimed at garnering international support.
“The dialogue phase will involve continued efforts and initiatives to resume contact with the Chinese government,” he said.
Affirming the unflinching devotion and loyalty to the Dalai Lama, Chhinjor said, “CTA offers prayers for His Holiness's long and healthy life, may all his wishes and the aspirations of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, and his efforts towards promotion of a more compassionate and peaceful world be fulfilled.”