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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Delegates scour for solutions at Tibetan General Meeting

August 31, 2010

By Tenzin Tsering
August 30, 2010

Bylakuppe, Aug. 30 -- Hundreds of Tibetan
delegates from all over the world that are
participating in the first Tibetan General
Meeting in Bylakuppe, the largest Tibetan
settlement in India, voiced their concerns over
problems plaguing the people under their purview,
and sought solutions to these challenges.

The Tibetan General Meeting -- which is on the
lines of the special meeting of 2008 that drew
hundreds of Tibetan delegates representing all
aspects of the exiled Tibetan diaspora – is being
organized by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, in
an effort to explore ways to reform the exile
government’s policies. The ongoing meeting saw
over 300 Tibetan representatives meet and express
their opinions on a wide array of issues,
including policy, promotion of democracy and
education, sustenance of Tibetan settlements and
status of Tibetans living in foreign countries, among others.

The delegates, who were divided into eight
sub-committees, met from August 26 to August 29
to brainstorm ideas as well as discuss pertinent
issues. They are currently in a joint session
wherein each sub-committee would voice their
respective resolutions, consider the issues
raised by the different groups and come to a
conclusion before the closing ceremony of the
meeting that will be presided over by the Tibetan
leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The sub-committees discussed issues ranging from
the threat to the preservation of Tibetan
culture, especially among the younger generation,
to the viability of Tibetan settlements, to the
difficulty that Tibetans in the West face in
obtaining a ‘Green book’ that is issued by the Tibetan exile government.

Pema Jungney, Member of the Parliament-in-exile,
speaking on behalf of the sub-committee on
"Sustenance of Tibetan settlements," said his
committee was recommending the establishment of a
research office in the settlements to investigate
the decline in the three primary means of
livelihood in Tibetan settlements, namely
agriculture, vocational and handicrafts industry.

Separately, International Support Network’s
Tsering Choedup said the sub-group on "Status of
Tibetans living in foreign lands other than
India, Nepal and Bhutan” is calling upon the
Department of Education to look into and address
the recent phenomenon concerning the
deterioration of Tibetan values among exiled
Tibetans, as well as the lack of cultural
understanding, especially among the younger generation in the West.

Local Tibetans in Bylakuppe are cautiously
optimistic about the meeting. While one resident
of the south Indian settlement welcomed the
democratic spirit of the meeting, saying “This is
a very important opportunity for all Tibetan
citizens who through their representatives can
express their views to the government,” another
hoped the “big meeting” will give tangible
results, adding it would otherwise be a “…waste
of time and money for the organizers and also for us."

The Tibetan General Meeting will formally
conclude on August 31, following which a
traditional long life prayer offering to His
Holiness the Dalai Lama will be organized by local Tibetans at Sera Monastery.

On September 2, Tibetans will commemorate the
50th founding anniversary of Tibetan democracy,
during which the Tibetan parliament, on behalf of
the Tibetan people, will honour His Holiness the
Dalai Lama with a ‘Golden Seal’ for leading the
Tibetan freedom struggle and for establishing
democracy in Tibetan polity. Over 30 parliament
members from 14 different countries, legislators
of Karnataka and local dignitaries will also attend the event.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on September 3, is
set to visit the schools and monasteries located in the settlement.
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