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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

TAKTSER RINPOCHE, ELDEST BROTHER OF THE DALAI LAMA, PASSES AWAY

September 8, 2008

Washington DC, September 5 (ICT)-Taktser Rinpoche, the eldest brother 
of the Dalai Lama, passed away earlier today (September 5) at home in 
Indiana in the United States having been ill for several years. He 
was 86 years old.

Taktser Rinpoche - whose given name was Thupten Jigme Norbu - was 
recognized at the age of three as the reincarnated abbot of Kumbum 
monastery in modern-day Qinghai, one of the most important 
monasteries in Tibet, and was therefore already a prominent figure in 
Tibet's religious hierarchy even before his brother the Dalai Lama 
was born.

In the immediate wake of the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949-1950, 
Taktser Rinpoche played important intermediary roles first between 
the Dalai Lama and Chinese Communist officials and then later, when 
in India, between the US State Department and the Dalai Lama during 
the protracted negotiations between Beijing and Lhasa surrounding 
signature of the controversial Seventeen Point Agreement - the 
document which was intended to give legitimacy to China's rule of Tibet.

Taktser Rinpoche was deeply mistrustful of the Chinese Communist 
Party's intentions in Tibet, and was a prominent voice advising the 
Dalai Lama to leave Tibet in the face of what was perceived as direct 
threats to his own personal safety as well as to the integrity of 
Tibet itself.

In 1950, when the Dalai Lama was still in Lhasa, Chinese officials 
attempted to persuade Taktser Rinpoche to travel to Lhasa and 
convince the Dalai Lama to accept the "peaceful liberation" of Tibet, 
even promising to make him the governor of Tibet if he succeeded, 
according to one account. Taktser Rinpoche eventually agreed to 
travel to Lhasa to see the Dalai Lama, but evaded his Chinese escorts 
on route and instead conveyed to the Dalai Lama his deep misgivings 
about China's influence in Tibet, and urging the Dalai Lama to 
retreat to the border with India.

Although a devout and dedicated follower of the Dalai Lama, Taktser 
Rinpoche nevertheless took a different stand on Tibet's status to his 
brother, calling instead for the complete independence of Tibet as 
opposed to the model of autonomy put forward by the Dalai Lama.

An extremely energetic individual, Taktser Rinpoche dedicated his 
life to serving the Dalai Lama, Tibet and the Tibetan people, 
including serving as the Dalai Lama's representative in Japan. Upon 
leaving Tibet in the 1950s and over a long and prolific writing 
career, he wrote several academic papers and books on Tibet including 
his own autobiography, Tibet Is My Country, one of the first books on 
the Tibetan experience to have scholarly credibility. He went on to 
serve as Professor of Tibetan Studies at Indiana University in the 
United States, where in 1979 he founded the Tibetan Cultural Center.

Taktser Rinpoche was a tireless advocate for the protection of 
Tibetan culture and the rights of the Tibetan people in Tibet. Each 
year - including this year prior to the Beijing Olympics - he 
participated in long walks and cycle rides to raise awareness of the 
plight of the Tibetan people.

He is survived by his wife Kunyang Norbu, and three sons.
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