On November 16-18, 2012, Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China, led by President  Dr. YANG Jianli and Vice President Dr. HAN Lianchao, participated in the Special International Meeting of Tibet Support Groups,  which was held in Dharamsala, India. The meeting was attended by nearly 200 participants from 43 different countries. The main focus of the meeting was to develop strategic campaigns and address the deteriorating situations in Tibet, where, as of today, at least 81 Tibetans have been confirmed to have self-immolated.

Sikyong Lobsang Sangay delivering keynote speech on opening session.

At the Opening Session, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay welcomed the participants with a keynote speech. Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay said that “Tibet is a litmus test for China and the world” and “by supporting Tibet, the international community will clearly show what they stand for. Sikyong Dr. Sangay Sangay stated that the meeting sends a message to Tibetans inside Tibet that their supporters will stand up for them to realize their aspirations for freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return.”

On the second day of the conference, His Holiness the Dalai Lama came to receive the participants. In His speech, His Holiness emphasize that “the Tibetan struggle has been a struggle of non-violence.” His Holiness also expressed his appreciation for the support of the international community as Tibet “passing through a difficult period.” He asserted that “our supporters are not (just) pro-Tibet but rather pro justice and pro non-violence.”

His Holiness differentiated the aspects of Tibetan issue into three parts: ecological, cultural, and political. However, because His Holiness is retired as a political leader, He only elaborated on the aspects of the environment and culture issues. His Holiness is deeply concerned with the environmental damage caused by deforestation and exploitation of natural resources, and also the recovery work in the future. His Holiness also called attention on preserving Tibetan’s culture. His Holiness said, “Tibetan Buddhist culture is a culture of peace and non-violence. The preservation of Tibetan culture is very much needed because it is a tradition of peace, love and compassion. But it is being completely destroyed.”

After the speech, His Holiness had a short conversation with Dr. YANG Jianli. (See the Postscript below).

Yang Jianli, President of Initiatives for China (Citizen Power for China) delivering keynote speech at closing session.

Vice President of Initiatives for China (Citizen Power for China), Dr. HAN Liaochao, gave a well received talk on China’s new leadership and its impacts on  the Tibetan issues. On the last day, Dr. YANG Jianli, delivered a closing speech on behalf of the Chinese participants. YANG asked the participants to take the advantage of the democracies they came from by pressing their governments to speak the “truth.” In his speech entitled The Truth Will Set Us Free, he mentioned that “the Chinese government … does not respond if the world leaders remain silent, because the only language it can understand is that of power.” Besides calling for international help, YANG also asked the participants to seek the opportunity to empower the Chinese people to end their silence on Tibet. Yang proposed that the supporters “should make special efforts to reach out to [Chinese people] to meet them with the TRUTH, to appeal to their conscience and to let them realize that the suffering of the Tibetan people is the suffering of the Chinese people, and that the same government that brings such misery to the Tibetan people is the same government that is jailing their best citizens, robbing the land from the peasants, and controlling their right to speak and think freely.”  Dr.YANG received a standing ovation from the deeply touchedaudience (The footage of the closing ceremony can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QbBlKARXkI)
At the closing session of the meeting, the participants had established a concluding statement, which express their strong support for the unwavering determination and commitment to nonviolence by the Tibetans. The concluding statement calls General Secretary Xi Jinping to take immediate steps to resolve the issues in the best interests of both the Tibetan and the Chinese people. Participants also pledged to demand their home governments to press the government of China to change its policies in Tibet. For full statement, please see: http://www.initiativesforchina.org/?p=1273 

Postscript by YANG Jianli
“At around 10:30am in the morning of Nov. 17, 2012, the second day of the conference, while the participants of the conference were dividing into groups for photos with His Holiness, His Holiness and I held hands together. He asked me about China’s new leadership and I briefly answered His question. Without wasting a second, I murmured to Him in grief, “Yesterday, three.”  
I know, I know” said His Holiness: Of course He knew what I was talking about, “I am helpless, I am helpless,” He continued. 
As we spoke, we were looking into each other’s eyes. He poked my hand hard with his finger and said “Even like this is painful… burning, burning.” At that moment, I saw tears running in His eyes. Tears then ran down my face. 

A few moments later, when He came to our group for the photo, His Holiness held my hands again. No words, we just looked into each other’s eyes. Again, I saw tears pooling in his eyes and once again tears ran down my face.”