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Report: "For Tibet the nightmare of foreign occupation had begun," Robert Ford

July 7, 2008

Office of Tibet, London (UK)
July 5, 2008

London, July 5 -- Speaking at a function here today to mark the 73rd
birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the guest speaker, Mr.
Robert Ford, one of the last remaining British who has worked and
lived in Tibet when it was an independent country, said that with the
Chinese Communist occupation following his last audience with His
Holiness, the nightmare had begun for Tibet and that his own personal
dreams was also shattered. In 1950 he was arrested by the invading
Chinese army and suffered imprisonment for nearly five years.

The former British diplomat told a mixed gathering of Tibetans and
others in the Westminster Cathedral Hall that his last "official
audience" with His Holiness the Dalai Lama took place in 1949 in the
Tibetan capital Lhasa before he was asked to leave for Chamdo in
eastern Tibet to establish a radio link from there to Lhasa.

"Sadly, this was the last time I saw the Dalai Lama in Tibet, the
abode of the Gods. Nineteen months later the Chinese Communists
invaded. For Tibet the long nightmare of foreign occupation had
begun. My personal dreams were shattered," recalled Mr. Ford, who has
also written a book entitled, Captured in Tibet, about his experience in Tibet.

Mr. Ford joined the British Mission in Lhasa in 1945 as a radio
officer. The same year he was transferred to Gangtok (Sikkim), where
he worked for British-India relations with Tibet. In 1947 when India
became independent, he returned to Lhasa and became the first
foreigner to be given an official Tibetan rank after his appointment
by the Government of Tibet.

Mr. Ford, who last served as the Consul-General in Geneva before
retiring in 1987 and receiving the Commander of the Order of the
British Empire, told the gathering about his admiration for the
Tibetan people's simplicity and faith in their religion and devotion
to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whom he again had the opportunity to
meet in London in May.

"Tibetan Buddhists do not proselytise. Throughout my years in Tibet,
I never felt any pressure to convert. Conversely I found a remarkable
tolerance of my own Christian religion", said the 85-year-old Mr.
Ford, who had enjoyed a privileged life in Tibet from 1945 to 1950,
when he was arrested by the Chinese forces and wrongly accused of
espionage and spreading anti-communist propaganda.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Tsering Tashi, Representative of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, Poland and the Baltic
Countries, based at the London Office of Tibet, said that despite
some of the official Chinese criticisms, His Holiness' is respected
all over the world as a man of peace and with a high moral standing.

"The warmth with which His Holiness was greeted by the leadership and
the public in this country during his visit to London, Nottingham and
Oxford this May was a testimony of this fact. And despite all the
official Chinese criticisms, the international recognition of His
Holiness continues to grow," said Mr. Tashi.

He said only last month he had the great honour of collecting two
awards on behalf of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"One was the International Statesman of the Year award given at the
UK House Magazine's parliamentary awards ceremony which was hosted by
the BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson and attended by ministers
and parliament members. The other was the Honorary Citizenship
bestowed upon His Holiness by the Polish city of Wroclaw. During the
awards presentation ceremony, the Mayor of Wroclaw not only expressed
their sympathy for the plight of the Tibetans inside Tibet but also
lauded His Holiness the Dalai Lama's leadership based on non-violence
and compassion that is a source of much inspiration for them," Mr. Tashi said.

Representative Tsering Tashi also said that through better awareness
and information more and more Chinese are showing respect for His
Holiness and expressing their support for the just Tibetan cause. He
appealed to the Tibetans and supporters to reach out to the Chinese
students, scholars, businessmen and other to inform them about
Tibet's true situation and the positive stand that His Holiness has
consistently taken to non-violently resolve the Tibetan problem and
also of his support for the Chinese people, who themselves do not
enjoy genuine human rights and freedom under the Chinese regime.

Mr. Sonam Frasi, one of the two Europe member of the Tibetan
parliament in exile said Tibetans in the free world should draw
inspiration from the bravery shown by the Tibetans inside Tibet. He
said the recent uprisings in Tibet have shown how Tibetans from all
walks of life despise the oppressive Chinese policies and that even
the Chinese appointed Panchen Lama has not spoken against the
Tibetans. Speaking about the Western Shugden Group, which had staged
protests during His Holiness' visits, he said they have become a tool
in the hands of the Chinese authorities and therefore urged Tibetans
and Western Buddhists to be vigilant about their activities.

This time with due consideration for the prevailing sad situation in
Tibet, the function jointly organised by the Office of Tibet, the
Tibetan Community in Britain and the Tibet Society did not include
any singing and dance items. Instead, the gathering saw and
participated in an extended prayer session for His Holiness, Tibet
and world peace led by Ven. Geshe Tashi Tsering, resident teacher of
the Jamyang Buddhist Centre.
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