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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Inaugural speech of Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay

August 10, 2011

Dharamsala, India
8th August 2011

My fellow Tibetans:

Today on this auspicious day when Guru Rinpoche, the great Indian
yogi who spread Buddhism in Tibet, was born, and in the presence of
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our most revered 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 guide us. My profound gratitude goes out to the
overwhelming support of brave men and women in exile, 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 the extended historical legitimacy of the
great institution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I am here not as
a result of my personal achievement but as a result of the hard
work and sacrifices made by elder generations in Tibet and in
exile. Today, I pledge to carry on and build upon this great legacy
of our elders. I pledge to you, my fellow Tibetans, to strengthen
and sustain our movement until freedom is restored in Tibet, and
His Holiness the Dalai Lama returns to our homeland.

Over one century ago, in 1910, His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama,
took one last glance at the Potala Palace before leaving his
homeland and promised to his people: “I shall return.” Our
ancestors at the time did not have modern education and
sophistication, but with dedication and unity they work tirelessly
to make the return of His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama possible.
His Holiness 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 His Holiness 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 of Tibetans who have modern education and
sophistication. But do we have dedication, unity and commitment to
make tireless effort like our ancestors? If we do, we will prevail.
If we don't, we fail.

No doubt, our task is of Himalayan proportion. But we take
inspiration from thousands of other brave Tibetans who, throughout
our history, have given up their lives and devoted their hearts to
Tibet. We have been tragically separated by force, not by choice,
and, we will reach the mountaintop 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 truly secular democratic society. This
year's dynamic Tibetan election demonstrated to the world our
commitment to genuine democracy and the universal principle of
human freedom. Our democratic election reveals that Tibetan unity
is built upon and sustained by universal democratic principles that
transcend region, sect, gender, and generations.

The results of this election should send a clear message to the
hardliners in the Chinese government that Tibetan leadership is far
from fizzling out – we are democracy that will only grow 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 against China as a country. Our struggle is
against hard-line policies of the Chinese regime in Tibet. Our
struggle is against those who would deny freedom, justice, dignity,
and the very identity of Tibetan People. Chinese authorities and
our Chinese friends alike must realize that grievances of Tibetan
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” for Tibetans. Some Tibetans helped build roads
to Tibet from China and were paid in Silver coins for their labor.
During that time, the Chinese soldiers were very polite and treated
our ancestors kindly.

However, once the roads were built, tanks encircled strategic urban
areas, lorries headed straight to the mineral-rich mountains and
pristine forests: and Chinese workers arrived to exploit and mine
billions of dollars of gold, copper, and uranium. Overnight, it
seemed, something had changed. 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 have become second class citizens in their
own homeland.

The ongoing political repression, cultural assimilation, economic
marginalization and environmental destruction in occupied Tibet is
unacceptable. The construction of new Railway Line brings each day
more heavy equipment to exploit mineral resources and more Chinese
migrants to demographically dominate Tibet and dilute our rich
culture and identity. Today's empirical facts are startling: around
seventy percent of the private sector is owned or run by Chinese,
and more than fifty percent of public sector jobs of the local
Communist Party cadre are also held by the Chinese. Meanwhile,
nearly forty percent of our Tibetan brothers and sisters who have
worked hard and earned university and high school degrees are
unemployed. These statistics are made worse, as we all know, by
Chinese officials who treat Tibet as their personal inheritance,
and act as feudal lords.

But three years ago, in 2008, Tibetans men and women, young and
old, nomads and farmers, monks and nuns, all rose up against the
Chinese rule in Tibet - from Dromo to Dhartsedo, Ngari to Ngaba,
from Lhasa to Lithang, from Kongpo to Kumbum. They spoke out
against Chinese oppression and mistreatment and the universal
slogan was: we want His Holiness the Dalai Lama return to Tibet.
Let me be clear: the Tibetan Administration does not encourage
protest in part because we cannot forget the harsh response Chinese
authorities hand down in the face of free and peaceful expression.
However, it is our sacred duty to support and to be the voice 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 could be:
today, it is a tragedy because of the Chinese occupation. Chinese
government ought to know it. Recently, many Chinese leaders have
visited Lhasa to observe sixty years of “peaceful liberation”. The
reality is that the anniversary was observed under undeclared
martial law with troops holding automatic machine guns, marching in
the streets of Lhasa, sharp shooters positioned on rooftops,
tourists banned from visiting Tibet entirely. Bejing’s rule in
Tibet is clearly unjust and untenable.

Despite the tragedy in Tibet, we want the world to know, especially
Chinese friends, that we remain firmly committed to non-violence.
We do not view China as a nation and Chinese as a people with
malice but with respect. Guided by the wisdom of our forefathers
and foremothers, we will continue the Middle-Way policy, which
seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet within the People's Republic of
China. This, my fellow Tibetans, is a win-win proposition for both
the Tibetans and the Chinese. We believe in a peaceful resolution
for Tibet, which means a peaceful process and peaceful dialogue. We
are also willing to negotiate with the Chinese government anytime,
anywhere.

Let's not forget: China aspires to be a superpower. It is the
fastest growing major economy in the world and is backed by the
largest army in the world. Sadly, however, China's moral power is
lacking behind. Moral power cannot be bought in the market or
forced with military 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 way toward restoring China’s positive image in the
minds and hearts of people around the world, as well as towards
protecting its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Chinese
people in China and the Greater Chinese diasporic community have a
key role to play in helping China overcome this moral deficiency.

I have sixteen years record of reaching out to hundreds of Chinese
students and have organized conferences on Tibet between Chinese
and Tibetan scholars at Harvard University. We will continue to
reach out to the Chinese people to build mutual understanding and
trust. I would like to extent our heartfelt gratitude and
appreciation to the United States, Europe, international community
and Tibet Support Groups for their enduring support. We appeal to
them to continue to stand with us for justice, freedom, dignity,
and equality, and to persuade Beijing to resolve the issue of Tibet
peacefully. A lasting solution to the situation in Tibet will be
one of the most defining 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, but for all the marginalized people around the
world.
A just and speedy resolution of the issue of Tibet is in the
interest of all Asia. For thousands of years, the Tibetan people
served as responsible guardian of the environment of the world's
highest and largest plateau that is the source of ten major rivers
that contribute to the livelihood of more than 2 billion human
beings. China's damming of rivers that originate from Tibet 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 to their
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 the Tibetan people refuge and for allowing us to
remain as guests for the past five decades. For those of us who
live here, India is our second home. The Tibetan Administration
will uphold and continue to honor the special relationship between
the Tibetan and the Indian people. Our debt to the Indian
government and its people is already enormous. But our work
together continues. We humbly appeal for your continued support and
kind consideration to treat Tibet as one of the core issues 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 fifty
years, if need be. I urge Tibetans inside and outside to support
the Lhakar Movement to be proud of and assert Tibetanness - to show
solidarity, to embrace unity, and to keep alive the Tibetan spirit -
 for together, I know we will foster a dynamic environment and
strengthen Tibetan institutions 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 of Tibet.
We will strive to reach 10,000 professionals among 150,000 in exile
and appeal to Tibetans inside Tibet to reach 100,000 in the next
two decades.

We will also continue to professionalize the Tibetan Administration
and ensure greater access and transparency through the integration
of technology and social networking tools. To this end, in the
months ahead we will establish a Tibet Policy Institute that will
serve as an intellectual platform to envision, develop, and execute
policies that will strengthen Tibet. We will also establish Sister
Shichaks (settlements) to strengthen solidarity between Tibetans in
India and the West and introduce Tibet Corps, a movement that will
invite skills and know-how of Tibetans within and abroad to serve
Tibet, and create employment for youth and build sustainable
shichaks (settlements).

Along with all other Tibetans, I am profoundly grateful to
Professor Samdhong Rinpoche for his leadership over the past
decade. And I thank him and the able members of his cabinet for
their heartwarming 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 full
co-operation and partnership to the honorable speakers and
gentlemen and women of the fifteenth parliament, and lead our very
capable and dedicated civil servants in the fulfillment of this
pledge.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that the devolution of
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s political power is not at all solely
to me as the Kalon Tripa, but to all Tibetans. His Holiness’ trust
and belief in the people and our 50 years of consolidation of
democratic institutions now will be challenged to survive and
thrive independently, without his political involvement. So this is
a test for each of us. It is a test, for the leadership in the
judiciary, for the parliament and for the executive branch to live
up to His Holiness’ expectations and to work as an effective and
united entity. This is our challenge and our opportunity.

I speak with particular urgency to the younger generations of
Tibetans. We need your support, your energy, and your talent to
stand tall and march forward to freedom. Let us never forget:
during our lifetime, our freedom struggle will meet the fate of
justice or defeat. Tibet will either appear or disappear from the
map of the world. Tibetans, as a people, will be alive or become 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 for conviction. 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 internal and 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 His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama to Tibet, the
opportunity will arise and our day will come. Like our dedicated
and united ancestors, if we are not united and prepared to accept
the challenges together, we will fail. Unity is paramount and it
simply cannot be compromised; it is the bedrock of our movement.
Any failure to attain unity will solely be our fault. We should do
our utmost not to disappoint the majority of compatriots in Tibet
who have put their faith in us, and who will be closely watching
every step we take from today onward. However, thankfully we take
comfort in the knowledge that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our most
revered leader, is very much in our midst to offer his wisdom.

During my first audience as the Kalon Tripa elect earlier this
year, I was reminded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama that I was
sitting on the same spot when I first met him nearly two decade
ago, in 1992. His Holiness told me that my term as the Kalon Tripa
will be good and I am committed 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 Lama on 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 meet soon. Though I have never been allowed to set
foot in Tibet, Tibet is in my heart each and every day. I am proud
to be born a Tibetan and I will be proud to die as one. While I
live, I am determined to fight for our freedom. My late father,
like many of our parents, could not return to Tibet. But this, my
fellow Tibetans, will not be the story of all Tibetans. Together,
we will ensure the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet,
reunite our people, and restore freedom in Tibet.

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 million Tibetans. We
are always ready to embark on this epic journey from Dharamsala,
the abode of Dharma, to Lhasa, the abode of Gods. From the town
where His Holiness the Dalai Lama lives, to the 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 Live
His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Bod Gyalo.

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