Tibetans in-exile celebrate Dalai Lama’s award

November 14th, 2007 - 2:27 am ICT by admin  
Loud cheering accompanied by the sound of bursting firecrackers filled the night air as large projection screens set up in the open, showed images of the Dalai Lama receiving the medal to honour his work in trying to bring about reconciliation with the Chinese Government that has kept him in exile for nearly half a century.

Thousands of Tibetans, including children, monks and nuns along with foreign tourists assembled at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts to celebrate the event on Wednesday night.

Phurbu Thinley, a Tibetan journalist said the Tibetans have long been awaiting this moment since the announcement of the award last year.

“This is the second most significant tribute since his holiness the Dalai Lama was awarded with the Nobel Peace prize in 1989. So, the Congressional Medal is the next big hope for the Tibetan people, for his holiness the Dalai Lama’s consistent effort to resolve the issue of Tibet through non violent and peaceful approach,” he said.

Forrest Tobbey, an American tourist said the atmosphere was static with excitement.

“It’s a very positive step forward for America to stand up and say that they too hope for a free Tibet. Hopefully, the other world leaders will step forward and do the same thing,” she said.

Young Tibetans said they were delighted with the recognition, and hoped other countries would follow suit.

“Throughout his life, he (the Dalai Lama) has vowed for non-violence, peace and the cause of Tibet, and this is recognition of a struggle of non-violence by the biggest super power. We wish other countries follow suit,” said Tenzin Choeying, an organiser and the President of Student for Free Tibet’s India Chapter.

Traditional Tibetan dances and songs were performed at a function organised by nine different voluntary organisations.

The Congressional Gold Medal shows an image of the smiling Dalai Lama, with mountains rising behind him. Across the top, the medal reads “14th Dalai Lama of Tibet”.

Wearing a saffron robe during the service, the Dalai Lama repeated his long-held stance that he was only seeking autonomy for the people of Tibet, not independence from China.

George W Bush became the first sitting US President to appear publicly alongside the Dalai Lama as he gave the exiled spiritual leader the US Congress’s highest civilian honour.

Bush brushed off criticism by China and said US-Chinese ties would not be damaged by the award of the Congressional Gold Medal.

China views the Dalai Lama as a separatist intent on winning Tibetan independence from Beijing.

In the public ceremony, Bush shook hands with the Dalai Lama as they stood side-by-side.

Before giving the award, Bush urged the Chinese leaders to welcome the Dalai Lama to China and said: “They will find this good man to be a man of peace and reconciliation.”

Bush said he was “honoured” to appear alongside the Dalai Lama, who he said was considered to be a “universal symbol of faith and tolerance”.

Among the recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal are — first US President George Washington, Mother Teresa, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. (ANI)

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