Dharamshala: The Tibet Museum of the Central Tibetan Administration hosted a gallery exhibitions to remember and honor Four Fact-Finding Tibetan delegation’s visit to Tibet.
Chief Guest of the event was CTA President Dr. Lobsang Sangay and the Special Guest was former Chief Justice Commissioner Lobsang Dhargyal who was also one of the five-member delegations to first visit Tibet in 1979 led by Thupten Namgyal Juchen, the then Kalon of the Department of Information.
The event was also attended by Secretary Sonam Norbu Dagpo of DIIR and other representatives of non-governmental organisations.
Secretary Sonam Dagpo in his keynote address explained in detail the historical background of forming four fact-finding delegations that would soon forge the first direct contact between the exile government of Tibet and the People’s Republic of China ever since the revolt of 1959 in Tibet.
Explaining further, Mr. Sonam Norbu Dagpo said that it was the primary aspiration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama that in cases of a possible dialogue between Tibet and PRC, Tibet would have to seek a different approach to resolve its issue other than seeking complete independence. Thus, he noted that Four Fact-Finding delegations were formed to represent His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to visit and see the prevailing conditions of Tibetans inside Tibet. The direct contact was made possible after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and the subsequent end of the decade-long Cultural Revolution when Deng Xiaoping, leader of PRC met Gyalo Thundup, the elder brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at United Front Work Department in Beijing in 1979. At the meeting, Deng told Gyalo Thundop that “apart from independence, all issues can be discussed”. This paved the way for four fact-finding delegations to Tibet in 1979 and 1985.
As per the advice and direction of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the first delegation headed by Thupten Namgyal Juchen, the then Kalon of the Information Department and Security Kalon Phuntsok Tashi Taklha led the delegation to Tibet in 1979. The second delegation constituted of young modern educated members headed by Tenzin N Tethong, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas and Tsering Dorjee, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Switzerland visited Tibet in 1980. The third delegation to Tibet also took place in 1980 under the leadership Jetsun Pema, the younger sister of His Holness the Dalai Lama to examine the state of education in Tibet. And the fourth delegation visited Tibet in 1985 led by former Kalon Tripa Woeser Gyaltsen Kundeling.
Secretary Sonam Dagpo asserted that all four delegations returned with the account of obliteration of monasteries and religious edifices, mass destruction of lands and deforestation, dilution of Tibetan language, religion, and culture inside Tibet under the rule of PRC.
“These are the true account of the situation in Tibet which are also recorded in the memoirs of some of the delegation,” said Secretary Sonam Norbu Dagpo.
A special video message by two members of the 2nd delegation to Tibet was featured. The members include Tenzin N. Tethong, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas and Tsering Dorjee, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Switzerland. Both the representatives narrated the account of their journey to Tibet and the prevailing conditions of Tibet then. According to the report of Tenzin Tethong, the delegates observed that more than 99% of Tibet’s monasteries and temples were left in ruins and the presence of People’s Liberation Army, by contrast, was huge.
Tsering Dorjee reported that wherever the delegation went, Tibetans swarmed around them to express their happiness and gratitude in an emotionally surcharged manner. He also accounted that the Tibetan’s hospitality towards them was no less than the ones accorded to high lamas.
Special guest Lobsang Dhargyal, former Chief Justice Commissioner, also a member of the first delegation to Tibet addressed the gathering and narrated his account of the events in Tibet. He reported that wherever the delegation went, Tibetans poured out their tragedies and suffering. They also raised slogans calling for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his return to Tibet. He noted that although the people showed a strong expression of gratitude for their visit, there was still fear written all over their faces for the unforeseeable reaction by the Chinese government against them.
Mr. Lobsang Dhargyal further accounted that the so-called development and progress in Tibet which the Chinese constantly claimed was not to be seen in reality.
“All the more Tibetans were impoverished, the natural resources exhausted, and the Tibetan language and culture destroyed on a large scale”, recounted Mr. Lobsang Dhargyal.
Chief guest, CTA President Dr. Lobsang Sangay lauded the initiative taken by the Tibet Museum in hosting a small yet historically significant event and called the need for more of such initiations in the future.
He necessitated the need to preserve the works and archives of historical events for future reference.
“It is the very motive of the Chinese government to dilute Tibetan culture, language, and religion,” said President Sangay while remarking on the account of delegation’s visit to Tibet.
He notified that all Tibetans in Tibet suffered the same fate against China’s oppression and all remained united in their resistance against the oppressive measures, therefore, he advised that Tibetans in exile must abstain from internal bickerings and regionalism and encouraged unity and integrity.