Official resolution of mourning and remembrance*
A sad report emerged recently of the passing away on the 29th of January in 2019 of Shri George Fernandes, a former defence minister of India and an unequivocal supporter of the Tibetan cause, after a prolonged period of ill-health at the age of 88. The late Mr. George Fernandes was born on the 3rd of June in 1930 in the south Indian state of Karnataka, with his father’s name being John Joseph Fernandes and his mother’s name being Alice Martha Fernandes. He was the eldest of six siblings. At the age of 16 he joined a seminary to be trained as a Roman Catholic priest. In addition, he studied philosophy for two years from 1946 to 1948. Afterwards, in 1949, he move to Mumbai and joined the socialist trade union movement there and gradually rose in prominence to become its top leader. In 1967, he won election for the first time to become a Lok Sabha member of the Indian Parliament. During his parliamentary term at that time, he and a section of other members of the Indian Parliament demanded to know from the country’s minister of External Affairs whether New Delhi had any plan to raise the issue of Tibet in the United Nations. In addition, he was one of those Indian leaders who strongly raised their voice on the issue of Tibet with specific calls, demanding that the parliament of India formally recognize His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the head of the Tibetan government in exile and that the government of India provide the means to help liberate Tibet from the Chinese occupation rule. Likewise, he referred to the unfortunate development in Tibet which had compelled the Tibetan people to escape to India and demanded to know from the government of India whether it had any plan concerning their return to their homeland once the issue of Tibet gets resolved in the near future. Examples such as these show that the late Shri George Fernandes was among leaders of prominence who had a genuine feeling of solidarity with the Tibetan people. He and Smt. Leila Kabir got married in 1971 and they gave birth to a son. In a culmination of further developments over the years, Shri George Fernandes was, in 1974, made the President of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation. Later in 1975, following the declaration of the implementation of national emergency law by the government of India, he launched a protest campaign, as a result of which he was eventually arrested and put under detention. Later on, when Shri V.P. Singh became the Prime Minister of India, he was made India’s railway minister on the 2nd of December in 1989. In 1994 he co-founded a new political party called Samata Party. Afterwards he merged his party with Janata Dal (United) which came to view him as a sort of its key representative figure. In addition, when it was decided that the First World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet would be held in India’s capital New Delhi in 1994, he was among the key people who took responsibility for organizing the event through direct involvement as well as in all other possible ways. During the period of 1998 – 2004, when Shri George Fernandes serves as the Defence Minister, the Kargil conflict took place and this was followed by India conducting its Pokhran nuclear test under his ministership. In 2007, on an invitation by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, he led a delegation of some 10 members of the All Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet (APPFT) to take part in the 48th Tibetan national uprising anniversary in a symbolic representation of support for and solidarity with the Tibetan people.
To sum up, the late Shri George Fernandes was, from a young age, a person with great interest in and fondness for politics and social reform. He has written a large number of books dealing with political issues. Their large numbers of readers have praised him highly and shown great fondness for him. Since the epochal tragic development in Tibet in 1959, he continued to take a high level of keen interest on the issue of Tibet throughout his life. The late Shri George Fernandes maintained a high level of steady interest in the issue of Tibet at all times, unaffected by any change in his own personal situation over the years. He was a great leader with distinguished achievements whose contributions encompassed the fields of the freedom struggle of the Tibetan people, justice in society, and towards the realization of a world without violence. He was a dependable friend of the Tibetan people in his strong support for their efforts to achieve their just cause. In particular, he was also a great person who had a single-minded devotion to and a great reverence for His Holiness the Dalai Lama with whom he shared a close friendship.
Be it resolved that the Tibetan Parliament in Exile compliments with great respect the late Shri George Fernandes for his outstanding deeds. His passing away has been a tragic loss to the Tibetan struggle also. For these reasons, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile offers its condolences to the surviving members of his family as well as to all those who have looked up to him on behalf of the entire people of Tibet living in exile and in their homeland. The Tibetan Parliament in Exile fervently prays that all the long term noble visions of late Shi George Fernandes may be seen fully achieved and that whatever of his accumulated actions may have amounted to infractions may be cleansed and stand purified in all its entirety so that he may keep proceeding forward to ever higher levels of wellbeing. The Tibetan Parliament in Exile unanimously resolves to adopt this resolution accordingly on this the 19th day of March in 2019.
The above resolution was adopted unanimously by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile on the 19th of March in 2019.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
* In case of any discrepancy between this English translation and its Tibetan original, the latter should be considered as authoritative and final for all purposes.