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article imageDalai Lama’s Birthday Clouded By News Of Ongoing Repression Special

By Christopher Szabo     Jul 3, 2009 in World
A representative of the Tibetan government in exile, Sonam Tenzing, has called on the international media to investigate the situation in Tibet. He says conditions have not changed since the clampdown began in 2008.
Tenzing, Representative of the Tibet Office for Africa, addressed guests at a reception celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 74th birthday at Tibet House in Pretoria. Tenzing said:
The situation inside Tibet is tense, it has not improved at all. Tibetans continue to live in fear. Increasing number of Chinese paramilitary forces are deployed in Tibetan-populated counties, many Tibetan houses are frequently raided, young Tibetan monks and nuns found partaking in peaceful protests are arrested, mercilessly beaten, tortured and imprisoned.
Tenzing pointed out that not only ethnic Tibetans bore the brunt of the People’s Republic’s policies:
Many Chinese lawyers who represented Tibetan detainees disappeared and their licences (have been) cancelled.
He added:
In spite of (the) dire situation, Chinese leaders still insist Tibetans are happy. They never admit there is a problem. Therefore His Holiness the Dalai Lama has very recently commented that: If the majority of the Tibetan people are truly happy, then our information becomes incorrect. Then we must apologise to the Chinese government.
Tenzing went on to pray for long life for the Dalai Lama, adding:
We also pray for (an) immediate end to the sufferings of all those Tibetans who are facing Chinese suppression and torture.
The atmosphere at the reception was very friendly, despite the dire situation in Tibet described by the representative of the exile government. Many of the guests were Chinese, and among them were members of South Africa’s International Relations (Foreign Affairs) department and business leaders, journalists as well as people interested in Tibetan culture and religion.
The Dalai Lama s Picture In Traditional Setting
The Dalai Lama's Picture In Traditional Setting
Christopher Szabo
People were wearing their national dress, and the Tibetan flag flew over Tibet house. Tenzing described the birthday celebrations of the Dalai Lama, who turns 74 on June 6th, before his flight into exile in 1959.
His birthday is the happiest day for all Tibetans. Officially the day begins with an offering of juniper incense and the flying of prayer flags both at the Potala and the Norbu Lingka palaces. His family members assemble to offer greetings to the Dalai Lama, then the members of the Tibetan Cabinet, the Secretariat and others assemble at the audience hall. His two spiritual tutors offer him long life pills and supplicate him to remain for a long time in this world, while praying for his good health…They then proceed to a place called Krungs.lha (the birth god) located at a distance of about two kilometres from Lhasa, where they participate in various rituals for the welfare of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The people of Lhasa, resplendent in their best clothing and full of joy, offer juniper incense on various local hills and spend several days singing and dancing.
Tibetans Sing The National Anthem
These members of South Africa's small Tibetan community are seen wearing their traditional garb.
Christopher Szabo
Tenzing expressed the desire that:
The Tibetan people’s wishes of seeing their undisputed leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on the golden throne of Potala be fulfilled and realised soon.
Tenzing and a group of Tibetans also sang the national anthem, the words of which were unintelligible to the guests, but which was melodious and quite beautiful.
The lasting memory of the reception was one of both bitterness and sweetness, with the suffering of Tibetans and the joy of the occasion mingling in the cold air of the South African winter.
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