By Tendar Tsering
Former Kalon Tripa Sonam Topgyal lights butter lamp before the memorial statue of Thupten Ngodup at Lhagyal-ri, Dharamshala, April 30, 2012 (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, April 30: Tibetans in the exile seat of Dharamshala commemorated the 14th anniversary of the ‘Tibetan Martyr’s Day’ to pay homage to fellow Tibetans who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet, Sunday.
The day is observed in honour of Thupten Ngodup, the first known Tibetan who set himself ablaze on April 29, 1998 in Delhi while waiting for his turn to take part in a hunger strike unto death organised by the Tibetan Youth Congress.
In memory of the late Thupten Ngodup and thousands of other Tibetan martyrs, the day has since been marked by TYC as "Tibetan Martyr’s Day".
A grand ‘Lhapsol’ prayer session was held at Dharamsala’s Lhagyal-ri in the morning followed by a candle light vigil later in the evening. Former leaders of TYC, including the organisation’s founding president and former Kalon Tripa, Sonam Topgyal and former president of TYC and former speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Karma Chophel and a large number of Tibetans took part in the prayer gathering.
Khata and butter lamps were placed before the memorial statue of Thupten Ngodup at Lhagyal-ri.
While addressing a gathering of Tibetans and supporters at the Tibetan Martyrs’ Pillar during the candle light vigil, Tsewang Rigzin, president of TYC, said that Tibetans will continue to make sacrifices “until China leaves Tibet to the Tibetans.”
Rigzin also urged Tibet’s friends and supporters to lobby their parliamentarians and governments to show “concrete support” for the Tibetan cause.
“Tibet needs concrete support, not just sympathy, and we urge all of you to let your parliamentarians know of your feelings and support for Tibet,” the President said.
Rigzin, who had recently led a month-long campaign of an “Indefinite Fast for Tibet” in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York, also sought answers on the assurances given by UN to the hunger strikers, from Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who was on a three-day visit to India.
The President said that TYC had issued an open letter to the Secretary General, reminding him of the UN assurances of taking a series of action to ease off the ongoing critical situations inside Tibet.
“As your Excellency embarks on a three-day visit to India, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the assurances that were made to us on March 22, 2012- during our hunger strike campaign in New York-via Ms Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” the letter read.
On the 30th day of the hunger strike by the three Tibetans, two senior UN officials had deliver a letter of assurance from UN human rights chief Navi Pillay urging the hunger the three to end their fast.
In the letter, Pillay said that her office had “assigned special rapporteurs of the United Nations to look into the situation inside Tibet," while assuring that she was “working on finalising the details” of her visit to China.
“The Tibetan Youth Congress would like to know the outcome of the efforts undertaken by representatives of the UN as mentioned in her communication such as ‘joint urgent appeals sent to the government of China’ and ‘request for visits to China by some of the special procedure mandates,’” the letter read.