We Tibetans must not forget our identity: The Dalai Lama speaks to over 10,000 in Vienna

DHARAMSHALA (Phayul): Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed a rally of over 10,000 people in Vienna Saturday afternoon. He was joined on the stage at Vienna’s historic Heldenplatz (Heroe’s Square) by Tibet’s elected leader, Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay.

Speaking from a stand emblazoned with the words “Tibet needs you now”, the Dalai Lama began by speaking in Tibetan to underscore the “threat” to Tibetan culture in Tibet.

“Our culture is under threat of destruction, therefore I want to take this opportunity to speak my own language,” the 76-year old Tibetan leader said. “Archaeological findings indicate that Tibetan history dates back 3-4000 years. We Tibetans must not forget our identity, for our blood, flesh and bones come from Tibet.”

The Dalai Lama, who is on an 11-day visit to Austria and met Chancellor Werner Faymann, stressed on the need to preserve Tibetan language as it carries the “most complete and thorough” translations of Buddhist knowledge.

“This (Tibetan written language) is a treasure for the world, not only for Tibetans,” His Holiness said. “And when we talk about preserving Tibetan Buddhist culture, I don’t mean just paying respects before a Buddhist image, but putting the teachings into practice and trying to live as good human beings.”

The exiled Tibetan leader also spoke on the importance of protecting Tibet’s environment and expressed his gratitude for the mass turn out at the rally, calling it “extremely valuable.”

“Because of our Buddhist culture, we are committed to the principle of non-violence. We are an example of a small community who have remained dedicated to pursuing our struggle through non-violent means, which is why your support is so extremely valuable and I want to tell you how much I appreciate it.”

Speaking after the Dalai Lama, Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay sent out a message of hope that Tibet’s time will come soon.

“Our time will come, it is close. Democracy is universal,” said Dr Sangay, who had flown in to address the rally.

He referred to the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled veteran dictators in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia as well as Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who was released from seven straight years of house arrest in November 2010 and has now been issued with a passport, enabling her to travel abroad for the first time in 24 years.

Jointly organised by a group of Tibetan communities, the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet, was aimed at highlighting the worsening human rights situation inside Tibet.

Organisers said that the solidarity rally will urge Governments of the Member States of the European Union to jointly express “strong concern” to the Chinese government at their “highest political levels,” to increase pressure on China to agree to a “high level EU delegation visit” to Tibetan areas, and to appoint a EU Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues.

The fiery wave of self-immolation protests in Tibet has witnessed 35 Tibetans torch their bodies demanding freedom in Tibet and the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. Mass protests in recent months have been violently suppressed following a call for “war” on peaceful protests by senior Chinese leaders.

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