New Delhi: All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet (APIPFT) has been successfully revived after the Tibetan Parliamentary delegation’s steadfast lobbying for many days. The Parliamentary delegation consists of Parliamentarians Serta Tsultrim, Geshe Lharampa Gowo Lobsang Phende, Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar, Geshe Atong Rinchen Gyaltsen, and Choedak Gyatso has reached out to 38 lawmakers in this campaign. On 21st Dec, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile visited Delhi and on the morning of 22nd Dec, the Speaker chaired a meeting attended by the delegation members, Representative and Secretary of Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Delhi, and coordinator of ITCO. Later in the evening, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile in coordination with India Tibet Coordination Office (ITCO) organized a dinner reception for the APIPFT members at The Imperial Hotel, New Delhi.
At the dinner reception, the revival of the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet was officially announced with the unanimous appointment of Shri Sujeet Kumar, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Raj Sabha from Odisha as the Convener of the Forum.
The dinner meeting was attended by Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel; Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & Information Technology of India; Shri Ramdas Athawale, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment; Shri K.C. Ramamurthy, Member of Rajya Sabha from Karnataka; Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Member of the Lok Sabha; Shri Janardan Singh Sigriwal, Lok Sabha Member from Bihar; Shri Chandeshwar Prasad, Lok Sabha member from Bihar; Shri Swapan Dasgupta, Rajya Sabha Member from West Bengal; Shri Sujeet Kumar, Raj Sabha member from Odisha; Shri Jairam Ramesh, Raj Sabha member from Karnataka; Shri Manish Tewari, Lok Sabha member from Punjab; Shri Chandeshwar Prasad, Lok Sabha member from Bihar; Smt Rani Pratibha Singh, Lok Sabha member from Himachal; delegation members; Parliamentarian Kunchok Yangphel; Shri R. K. Khrimey (National Convener of Core Group for Tibetan Cause and former Parliament member); and Coordinator and staff of ITCO.
It started with the introduction of the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet, its formation, and evolution by ITCO coordinator Jigme Tsultrim. Followed by key-note addresses by Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Parliamentarian Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar, APIPFT Convener Shri Sujeet Kumar, and Shri Jairam Ramesh, Raj Sabha member from Karnataka.
Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel in his address applauded the unwavering support of the Indian lawmakers to the Tibet and Tibetan cause and extended his gratitude to the government and people of India for hosting His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetans for the past more than 60 years. He further highlighted the significance of India’s support for Tibet’s issue especially of the All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet. Urging the continued support of the MPs both inside and outside of Parliament, the Speaker appealed to the Indian lawmakers to engage in Tibetan events and programs.
He further spoke on the sufferings of Tibetan inside Tibet under the brutal regime of the People’s Republic of China, where they are deprived of basic human rights including the right to religion, culture, language, and so on. Moreover, Tibet, the roof of the world, is getting unimaginable environmental destruction which will cause serious consequences to the neighboring countries including India. To learn and understand the functioning of the Central Tibetan Administration, the Speaker extended an invitation to the members of APIPFT to visit Dharamshala.
While Parliamentarian Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar extended her gratitude on behalf of the delegation to the Indian Ministers, Parliamentarians, and officials for their warm welcome during the campaign and urged for their continued support for future Tibetan Parliamentary campaigns. She also extended her gratitude to India and its people for hosting His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Central Tibetan Administration, and Tibetans. In the past 6 decades, India has become a home to the Tibetans after the usurpation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China and Tibetans will be forever indebted to India for all the support provided. She finally appealed to the Indian Parliament Members to table and adopt Tibet-related resolutions in the Indian Parliament.
Thereafter, Shri Sujeet Kumar, the Convener of APIPFT, explained how the political party ‘Biju Janata Dal’ was named after Odisha’s former Chief Minister Shri Biju Patnaik, who was a strong Tibet supporter. The MP further shared that he had the opportunity of having an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and he has been a follower of His Holiness for over 12 years. The APIPFT Convener, who had visited Tibet in 2009, firmly contested that Tibet was never a part of China and India does not share a border with China. He called for conferment of Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honor, on His Holiness and need of adopting a policy like the US Tibet Policy and Support Act in the Indian Parliament.
Finally, Shri Jairam Ramesh (Raj Sabha member from Karnataka), who has a keen interest and knowledge of Tibet’s culture, ideology, history, and environment, spoke about the significance of Tibet to India in terms of culture and environment, apart from political issues. He further spoke of his book on Buddhism and how delighted he is to have the Foreword on the book from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The dinner meeting successfully concluded with discussions between the Tibetan MPs and Indian MPs.