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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Taktser Rinpoche Receives Tibetan Freedom Torch

June 7, 2008

June 5, 2008]

FISHERS, Ind. ­ On June 4, Taktser Rinpoche's three children
presented Him with the Tibetan Freedom Torch at the conclusion of the
two-day Freedom Torch bicycle ride from Indianapolis to Bloomington,
Indiana. Joining the ceremony along with Rinpoche's three sons
(Lhundup, Kunga, and Jigme) were Rinpoche's wife, Kunyang Norbu,
Jigme's oldest son Tenzin (10 years old), and a host of Tibetan
Monks, Tibetans, and leaders of the International Tibet Independence
Movement and Students for a Free Tibet-Indiana University.

On the first day of the bicycle ride (June 3), Tibetans and others
gathered at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown
Indianapolis for a rally and press conference attended by the local
print, radio, and television media.

After prayers and the singing of the Tibetan National Anthem,
riveting speeches were given by Jigme Norbu, Larry Gerstein
(President-International Tibet Independence Movement), Mary Kate
Oreovicz (President-Students for a Free Tibet-Indiana University),
and Gedun Rabsal (Editor, Rangzen Voice). This was followed by a long
life prayer for His Holiness The Dalai Lama and an offering of khatas
by the Tibetan community to Jigme and Kunga Norbu.

Jigme and Kunga then rode off through the streets of downtown
Indianapolis on their way to Martinsville, Indiana. Soon thereafter,
the rain began. For much of the day's ride, the rain poured down
heavily on the Freedom Riders. Further, for most of the day, they
were subjected to the debris (i.e., dirt, pebbles) flying off trucks
and automobiles that passed them on the route.

Although the weather and road conditions were quite treacherous,
Jigme and Kunga remained focused and determined to achieve their
goals. That is, to educate people about the importance of stopping
the Olympic Torch from going through Tibet, requesting that President
Bush not attend the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics unless
substantial progress is made in negotiations between China and the
Tibetan Government In-Exile, and presenting the Torch to their
father, Taktser Rinpoche (oldest brother of His Holiness The Dalai Lama).

While riding, Jigme and Kunga also kept in the forefront of their
mind the horrific conditions of the Tibetans inside of Tibet
rendering the challenge of the weather and bicycle ride itself much
less significant. In fact, keeping this in mind helped them to exceed
the number of planned miles for the first day of the ride. Instead of
covering 40 miles in day one, they rode 60 miles.

Day 2 (June 4) of the ride took place on the 19th Anniversary of the
Tiananmen Square protests and killings. The day began with some
prayers and a dedication of the day's ride to the Tibetans in Tibet
who were killed recently by China, the Chinese activists who were
killed on June 4, 1989 in Tiananmen Square, the Tibetans currently
living in Tibet fighting for their freedom, the Chinese in China
struggling for democracy, and the Tibetans and Chinese who died
recently as a result of the massive earthquake.

As Jigme and Kunga rode through the streets of Bloomington, many
motorists honked their horns in support and even asked to see the
Tibetan Freedom Torch.

On arrival at the doorstep of the Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple to greet
Taktser Rinpoche, Jigme and Kunga were met by many Tibetan Monks,
most of the local Tibetan community, members of the Indiana
University SFT, and representatives of the local media. On hand as
well was Taktser Rinpoche's wife, Kunyang Norbu, and Rinpoche's
oldest son, Lhundup Norbu. Each Tibetan then presented Jigme and
Kunga with a khata.

All in attendance then proceeded to Rinpoche's room and watched as
Lhundup (46 years old), Kunga (45 years old), and Jigme (42 years
old) offered the Tibetan Freedom Torch to their father whose smile
brightened the entire room in the moments to follow. After this,
Kunyang Norbu and Jigme Norbu's son, Tenzin, joined Rinpoche as He
held the Freedom Torch.

Many understood the historic nature of this occasion. Eighty-five
year Taktser Rinpoche has been a vocal, consistent, and strong
worldwide leader of the Tibet Independence Movement since His escape
from Tibet in 1951. Now, His three sons and grandson stood by His
side in support of His efforts and vision for the future of an
independent Tibet.

After a meal hosted by local Tibetans, all present proceeded on a
walk with the Torch to downtown Bloomington. Jigme and has son led
the way. Throughout the walk, the participants could be heard
chanting Tibetan prayers and shouting slogans (e.g., Free Tibet, Long
Live His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Bhod Rangzen).

Half way along the 6-mile route, Lhundup Norbu took over as the
leader. Soon after this, the sky opened up and the rain poured down
and completely drenched the walkers. Neither the rain, nor the heat,
nor the high humidity, however, weakened their resolve. In fact,
their slogans became louder and stronger.

About one-half mile from their final destination, the Monroe County
Courthouse, the walkers stopped for some shelter and tea offered by
Anyetsang's Little Tibet restaurant. As they stood drinking tea, an
unusual event happened. Flash floods filled the streets. In fact, the
streets turned into streams and rivers. Cars were submerged and
people were boating down the streets.

Because of this, it was impossible for the walkers to reach their
final destination. Instead, they recited prayers and sang the Tibetan
National Anthem on the porch of the restaurant. In some ways, this
was a fitting end to the Tibetan Freedom Torch event in Indiana.
Surrounded by images of Tibet and His Holiness The Dalai Lama, as
well as colors and décor significant to Tibetans, ending the walk and
ride at "Little Tibet" symbolized the richness of the Tibetan culture
and the importance of Tibetans regaining control of their country.

Pictures from the Tibetan Freedom Torch events in Indiana will be
posted soon at Interviews can also be found on the
Tibetan service websites of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.
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