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London visit brings memory of Tibet-Britain historical ties

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, welcomes His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Houses of Parliament, London, UK. Also seen in the picture is Tibetan Parliament Speaker Penpa Tsering (1st right in second row)/Photo/Ian Cumming / Office of Tibet

DHARAMSHALA: His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to the Westminster Abbey in London yesterday brought memories of Tibet’s historical ties with Britain before it was invaded by the People’s Republic of China.

Welcoming him to the Jerusalem Chamber, the Very Reverend John R Hall, the Dean, commented on the rich history of the room itself. It was a significant location for His Holiness to meet British people who had lived and worked in Tibet prior to the Chinese invasion. The son of Robert Ford, the radio operator who served in Kham and was later imprisoned by the Chinese, read a message from his father who was indisposed. He spoke of being a witness to a free Tibet, a country the size of France and Germany, an independent country with its own government, language, customs and way of life. He said the Tibetans he encountered were honest, gentle and joyful, devoted to their religion and to their leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness recalled that on his first visit to Europe in 1973 he had been impressed to discover people in England who could speak a little Tibetan, which he took as evidence of the links that had existed between Tibet and Great Britain. These were people who as a result of their stay there understood what Tibet was. He said, “I am very happy to be here. Our struggle is between the power of truth and justice and the power of the gun. In the short term the power of the gun seems stronger, but in the long term the power of truth will prevail. We are determined that our struggle remains non-violent and as a result we have a strong base of support and solidarity here and in other countries, and even among increasing numbers of informed Chinese.

“Please keep Tibet in your thoughts and tell other people what you know about Tibet, her people and environment, thank you,” His Holiness said.

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London School of Economics, Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Clarence House


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during his talk "Resisting Intolerance: An Ethical and Global Challenge" at the London School of Economics on June 20, 2012. Photo/Ian Cumming
London, England, 20 June 2012 - “Brothers and sisters, I am happy to have this opportunity to talk to you today. And when such a chance arises, I always consider myself to be another human being, just like you. We 7 billion human beings are the same physically, mentally and emotionally. Some of us have different coloured hair, a bigger or smaller nose, but these are secondary differences. What unites us is that we all want to be happy and none of us wants to be sad. Not one of us starts their day thinking, ‘I hope I face problems, today.’ Indeed, everyone has a right to a happy life.”
His Holiness was speaking at the London School of Economics at an event hosted jointly by the LSE, the Frederick Bonnart Braunthal Trust, Matrix Chambers and the Sigrid Rausing Trust on the theme Resisting Intolerance: an ethical and global challenge. He spoke about how people create problems without meaning to, because they don’t look ahead and take a long term view. Examples include the crisis in the global economy, climate change and the gap between rich and poor. These occur because we have not applied our wonderful human intelligence, but looked instead for immediate gratification.

He pointed out that there are 7 billion human beings on this planet and we need to take each other into account. We are all dependent on each other in different ways, whether it is for food, fuel and energy, raw materials, technological development and so on. If we consider other human beings as brothers and sisters we will feel safe and secure, but if we persist in viewing others with suspicion and mistrust we will constantly feel uneasy.

Describing himself as belonging to the twentieth century, an era that is already past, he appealed to the younger generation, the generation of the twenty-first century to make the effort to create a better, more peaceful, more equitable world. This will not, he said, be achieved by prayers or simple good wishes, but by becoming actively involved.

Answering questions from the audience, His Holiness praised the ancient tradition of tolerance he has observed in India, where people belonging to nearly all our religious traditions have lived together in respect and harmony for centuries. The concept of non-violence, which has its origins there, is still strong in India, a country that has been democratic and remarkably stable since independence in 1947. He said that as a messenger of ancient Indian thought, he seeks to make these notions of respect, tolerance and non-violence relevant today.

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His Holiness The Dalai Lama - A Day of Meetings and Talks in London

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Aung San Suu Kyi in London, England, on June 19, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHD
London, England, 19 June 2012 - As His Holiness received Burmese leader and fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who had come to visit him privately this morning, he told her,  “I have real admiration for your courage. I am very happy we’ve been able to meet”

After more than half an hour’s close conversation, during which His Holiness told her that just as her late father had shown great dedication, he was confident that she too would be of great service to humanity, he wished her every success in fulfilling her life’s goals. He also said he looked forward to meeting her again.



A short drive through London’s sunlit streets brought His Holiness to the University of Westminster where he had been invited to give the CR Parekh Lecture on the Values of Democracy and Tibet. He began,


“The twenty-first century is still young, there are almost 90 years to go, so we still have an opportunity to work to create a new, better world.”


“Look at India and China, both have huge populations, but the difference is that India is a democracy with a functioning judiciary, a country where there is freedom of speech and a free press. Meanwhile, the Chinese communist party are so concerned about the disintegration of their country that they forcefully restrict the unique aspects of minority groups. I recommend Chinese I meet to look at pluralistic India and learn from it.”  


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Two Tibetan Youngsters Self-immolate in Jyekundo, One Dies

Two Tibetan youngsters have set themselves on fire today in Trindu (Chinese: Chengdu) County in Jyekundo (Chinese: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP) of Qinghai Province.

Ngawang Norpel, aged 22, and Tenzin Khedup, aged 24, self-immolated today at around 3:30 pm (Tibet Time) in Zatoe town, Trindu County, Jyekundo TAP, Qinghai Province.

According to sources, the two youngsters were carrying Tibetan national flags and shouted slogans, calling for freedom in Tibet, return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, when they set themselves afire.

Tenzin Khedup died at the scene while Ngawang Norphel’s condition is not known at this moment, sources said.

Local Tibetans have taken the body of Tenzin Khedup to Zilkar Monastery in Trindu County where they are holding prayers for the deceased at this time of reporting.

Tenzin Khedup was son of Lekdup and Kyizom and was from Trindu County in Jyekundu TAP. He was a former monk at Zilkar Monastery. He disrobed in 2006. Ngawang Norpel is from Ngaba County, Ngaba TAP, Sichuan Province, said sources. A few years ago, Ngawang Norpel came to live in Zatoe town, Trindu County. His parents are Lhakpa Dhondup and Tsering Yangchen.

Earlier this year, on 9 February 2012, Sonam Rabyang, a Tibetan monk from Yuthung village in Tridu, set himself on fire. His condition and whereabouts remains unknown.


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Tibetan Monk Tortured, Dies in Custody

A Tibetan monk has died after being tortured in police custody in Nyagrong (Chinese: Xinlong) County, Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in Sichuan Province.

36-years old Karwang was accused of putting up pro-independence posters in Kardze County and was detained, a source told TCHRD.

In beginning of May 2012, posters calling for freedom appeared on the walls of a Chinese government building in Nyagron, County, Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) TAP, Sichuan Province.

Several days later (in mid May) Karwang, a monk at Nyagrong Monastery in Nyagrong County, was arrested on suspicion of putting up the posters. He was taken to Dartsedo (Chinese: Kangding) County where he was detained for around eight days. The authorities tried to force him to confess to having put up the posters but Karwang denied. Sources said Karwang was then beaten and tortured.

A few days later, he died in detention. Karwang’s relatives in Nyagrong County got a call from Dartsedo police telling them to come to collect Karwang’s body. Karwang’s parents have died years ago. Seven relatives of Karwang, including his uncle and brothers, went to Dartsedo and came back with the body, accompanied by armed police, in few police vehicles.

The body was later taken to Serta Monastery for funeral, added our source.

According to our source, Karwang’s family and relatives were not paid any money as compensation.

The exact dates of Karwang's arrest and death are not known.

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China: Arbitrary Expulsions of Tibetans from Lhasa Escalate

(New York) – As many as several hundred Tibetans from eastern areas of the Tibetan plateau who live in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), have been arbitrarily expelled from the city as part of a drastic security drive, Human Rights Watch said today. The policy measure appears to have been taken in response to an incident on May 27, 2012,in which two Tibetan protesters from eastern Tibet set themselves on fire in front of Lhasa’s famous Jokhangtemple.

Since the Jokhang incident, security forces in Lhasa have been carrying out sharply increased identity checks on the streets of the city. Tibetans from areas where protests have recently taken place, in eastern Tibet, have been ordered to leave not only the capital, but the TAR as well. Those expelled are not known to have been accused of any wrongdoing and there are no reports to date of non-Tibetans being expelled.

“This arbitrary expulsion of people because of their ethnicity or place of birth is clearly discriminatory and violates their basic rights to freedom of movement and residence,” said Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch. “Lhasa authorities should explain these extreme measures and be aware that additional arbitrary restrictions are likely to deepen tensions.”

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi during their private meeting in London

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Russell Brand discusses the Dalai Lama

Russell Brand acted as master of ceremonies for the Dalai Lama’s youth event

Comedian Russell Brand has shared a stage with the Dalai Lama in front of a crowd of young people in Manchester.

Brand, known for his bawdy humour, introduced the Tibetan spiritual leader and hosted a question and answer session at Manchester Arena.

The Dalai Lama’s representatives said they chose Brand because he had proved “the power of spirituality to effect change in his own life”.

The event was intended to spread a message of “non-violence and dialogue”.

The exiled spiritual leader has led a lifelong campaign for the rights of Tibetan people. But the Chinese government accuses him of trying to split Tibet from the rest of China.

Brand spoke to the BBC before the event about his involvement with Dalai Lama.

How did you get involved with the Dalai Lama?

Russell Brand: “The Dalai Lama’s people approached me and said, ‘Do you want to do this event with the Dalai Lama?’

“And, amazingly, I said yes because he’s the living incarnation of Buddha and I thought, if you’re around the Dalai Lama, that can only be good for your spiritual quest through life. He’s an amazing diplomat, an incredible activist, a wonderful human being and an inspiration to us all.”


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Stand up & Be the Change

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with leaders of youth organizations in Manchester, England, on June 16, 2012. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL

MANCHESTER, 16 June: As a light Mancunian drizzle fell outside, His Holiness began the day with a couple of extensive newspaper interviews. In the light of his specifically addressing youth later today, His Holiness was asked what he thought about the riots that took place in Britain last year. He replied,


“When I heard about those riots on the BBC I was surprised. I had always thought of the people of Britain as a mature people, a law abiding people. I wrote to your Prime Minister expressing my concern and suggesting that it was important to really look into the root causes of this violence.” Elaborating on the theme, he pointed out that although people are nominally equal under the law, sometimes the poor are treated less well. Therefore, their voice needs to be heard. If leaders fail to pay attention, it may be necessary to organize a protest or demonstration, with the stipulation that it must be peaceful and non-violent. If violence breaks out, it inevitably detracts from your goal. On the other hand, His Holiness said that while he was shocked by the violence that had taken place, he was impressed to learn that in many places people voluntarily came out to take part in the clean up.


A question about the Queen’s diamond jubilee prompted His Holiness to reveal that he had been familiar with the royal family even as a boy in Tibet through pictures he saw in Life magazine and a documentary film about George VI and his family. He was struck by evident joy with which many people were celebrating the jubilee.


Meeting leaders of a wide variety of youth organizations before lunch, His Holiness told them,


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China must open and censorship must stop: His Holiness the Dalai Lama

After speaking on the theme, ‘Real Change Happens in the Heart’ at the Manchester Arena, His Holiness answered several questions from the audience and the last came from a Chinese student, who said she was sorry for what had happened in Tibet and was concerned for the survival of Tibetan culture, which attracted applause. Regarding His Holiness’s assertion that the future of the institution of the Dalai Lama would be for the Tibetan people to decide, she asked how the Tibetan people’s voice would be heard. He said,

“Some people think that the continuation of the institution of Dalai Lama is essential for the preservation of Tibetan culture, but it is not. The two key questions are, whether it should continue, and if it should, how the next Dalai Lama will be found. In a detailed statement about this last year, I said I would reconsider and consult Tibetan spiritual leaders about this when I’m about 89 years old. So, you’ll have to wait 12 years to find out – but I suspect other factors will have changed by then.

“China has made unprecedented economic progress, but remains a closed society constrained by censorship. China must open and censorship must stop. The 1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality of their situation and once they know the reality, they have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Therefore, censorship, which is morally wrong, must stop.

“Likewise, the Chinese judicial system must be raised to an international standard. The world trend today is towards greater democracy, religious freedom and individual freedom. For the Chinese authorities to oppose this trend is impossible; change must come.

“I admire the Chinese people, a realistic, hard working people, and it’s only a question of time before things will change. Once the Chinese authorities heed Deng Xiaoping’s dictum, ‘seek truth from facts’ the Tibet issue can be solved in a matter of days. For reasons of economic development it is in our interests to remain with China, but we have our own language, our literature which contains the greatest resource of Buddhist knowledge that is of interest not only to Tibetans, but also to many of the 300 million Buddhists in China. To preserve Tibetan Buddhist culture, philosophy and practice, and to preserve and protect our natural environment, we seek meaningful autonomy.”

His Holiness concluded with an appeal to his listeners to think about what he had said earlier, suggesting that if they found something useful in it they should try it out, but if they felt it wasn’t relevant to them, they could just forget it.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will conclude his explanation of the Eight Verses for Training the Mind and Nagarjuna’s In Praise of Dharmadhatu before travelling to London.

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