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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."

California legislature recognizes March 10th as Dalai Lama and Tibet Awareness Day

March 8, 2009

Dechen Tsering
Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC)
March 7, 2009

Dear Tibetan Media,

As some of you may have heard, Tibetans in California had a very hopeful day in Sacramento yesterday at the California State Capital Hall to show our support for Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee's Resolution ACR 6 (attachment) calling for the State of CA to recognize March 10th as Dalai Lama and Tibet Awareness Day.

Please find a detailed update pasted below from the event yesterday for your broadcasting into Tibet.

Please feel free to call/email me, should you require more information. Images from the event are on the TANC website - www.tanc.org under GALLERY.

Sincerely,

Dechen Tsering

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A Politician's Search for Son Leads to Resolution on Tibet in California's State Legislature.
Dechen Tsering, President, Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC)
 
On March 2, 2009, there was a flame-of-hope that lit the darkness surrounding current events inside Tibet. California State Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee gave a hall full of some 200 Tibetans and Tibet supporters from all over the State of California a reason to sing a little in the rain!
 
On December 8, 2008, Assemblymember Blakeslee introduced, for the second time, the Resolution ACR 6 calling on the State of California to declare March 10th the "Dalai Lama and Tibet Awareness Day" as an acknowledgment of the 50 years of peaceful resistance against the tyranny of Chinese occupation of Tibet and to commemorate His Holiness the Dalai Lama's 50 years of life in exile.  Tibetan Associations and Tibet Support Groups all over the state mobilized to express our support to ACR 6 and sent over 200 letters to Assemblymembers all over the State urging them to support Dr. Blakeslee's resolution. Resolution ACR 6 passed into the CONSENT calendar unanimously on March 2, 2009. Formality of final voting is on Wednesday March 4, 2009. We were told that Resolutions in the consent calendar traditionally pass the final step.
 
Despite the rainy Sacramento weather on Monday March 2, over 180 Tibetans, almost all from the Bay Area, and some 20 Western supporters huddled into a hall in the State Capital Hall to show our support and give thanks to Assemblymember Blakeslee for successfully introducing ACR 6. The four hour event had a flavor of personal sharing, eloquent speeches supporting human rights in Tibet, Buddhist chants, new-age assortment of horn-blowing, cultural Tibetan songs, fusion-Tibetan rock, and lots of gracious appreciations. Highlight of the event for me as a Tibetan, was the humbling honor of being able to thank a hall full of State Assemblymembers chaired by the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Tibetan delegation being greeted with standing ovation. It was truly hopeful and heartwarming to see the support for ACR 6 from a hall full of well-meaning American politicians!
 
Assemblymember Blakeslee began the event by sharing his personal story of how his paternal desire to see his teenage son, who at the time was traveling around the world for a year, led him to a remote place called Dharamsala. Eventually, after the adventures for a first-time western traveler in India, he hiked up a long and narrow winding road to another place called ˜T.C.V. [Tibetan Children's Village] where his son was teaching English to little Tibetan children. The largely Tibetan audience (many ex-TCV graduates) laughed endearing at the mention of their alma matar. Since then, he has not stopped learning about the plight of Tibetans inside Tibet and being moved by the non-violent struggle His Holiness the Dalai Lama has led to demand justice for Tibet. Years after Dr. Blakeslee’s life-changing trip to Dharamsala, he said he found himself in the California State’s Legislature and seized his opportunity to do something about the situation inside Tibet. Thus, he introduced the Resolution on Tibet last April in the midst of the global uprisings against China and its clamping down on Tibetan protestors inside Tibet. The Resolution did not pass. A few months later, Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee re-introduced the Resolution with full vigor and yesterday in the State Assembly Hall; Tibetans saw the result of his determination and commitment to Tibet. He gave hope on a rainy day!
 
Mr. Tenzin N. Tethong, Former Prime Minister and Representative of the Tibetan Community reminded the audience that, “when we celebrate the work and the lives of the Tibetan people, we are also celebrating how we survive on this planet and how we live in harmony. That message – as ancient as it is - is also relevant to the world today.” He applauded Assemblyman Blakeslee for his effort to draw attention to Tibet and urged the State Assembly of California to support the resolution stating, “When California leads, the rest of the country will follow.” He urged leaders to remember that, "more important than just the history of Tibet, it's been now 50 years since His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetans have lived in exile following the occupation of Tibet by China. So, during this period, we have to remember more than just the politics and history of Tibet, it is the people of Tibet who have suffered endlessly. And right now, the Tibetan people continue to suffer a whole new onslaught of terror, suppression and manipulation. It is at a very critical time for the Tibetan people that this support comes and is extremely valuable."
 
The strong and supportive voice for Tibet from Ms. Banasheh Akhlaghi, Western Regional Director of Amnesty International and daughter of Iranian parents, was another reason for Tibetans to have hope. Ms. Akhlaghi spoke passionately for Tibet: Below is her speech:
 
It is with great privilege and great honor that I stand before you, bringing the voice of AI to stand with you at this critical time. It takes courage to take the type of stand that this movement has taken; It takes courage, to take the kind of stand each one of you within your community continue to take for your loved ones back in your home country. I was born in Iran. So as an exilee, I stand before you heart-to-heart, brother and sister. And it’s in that spirit that we come here today; it’s in that spirit that we ask the State of California; its with that spirit that we ask the United States, at this critical juncture, to view the events that are taking place, to view the Tibetan people and the struggle and the movement of the Tibetans as one which is exactly what it should be constantly underscored …as a non-violent movement. And as in every other non-violent movement prior to this one, whether it was in India; whether it was in South Africa; or whether it was here in the United States; it requires external support to support those who are internally standing. And we are asking California, we are asking the United States, we are asking the global community, to stand with all of those internally, who are working deeply with their bodies; deeply with their own lives, for one thing – for FREEDOM.
 
And with that said, I bring the following recommendations to the good leaders, to those who govern the State of California; to hold the Chinese government accountable for the following as we have at Amnesty International:

- To release immediately and unconditionally those detained solely for engaging in peaceful protest including support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the independence for Tibet or the greater autonomy for Tibet.

- We ask for the accounting of all those detained, including their names, their whereabouts, and any charges against them.

- We ask that all detainees are insured - all detainees are insured - prompt access to an attorney, members of their family and any medical treatment if so required.

- In restoring order and protecting individuals and property, the use of force should only be used where necessary and appropriately.

- We ask for an accounting of all those who have been killed or injured.

- All independent UN security and scrutiny of individuals who are currently under human rights situations in Tibet and neighboring provinces should be monitored.

- We ask for granting unimpeded access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighboring provinces for journalists and other independent observers such as Amnesty International.

AI calls for world leaders, the leaders of the State - the good State of California – to use their influence with the Chinese authorities to take urgent action in all the above named recommendations. Governments engaged with China including our own, are urged to ensure that the current situation inside Tibet is on the agenda for all dialogues. And we ask, that diplomatic channels, where governments should also manifest, they should manifest them publicly through their own concerns as the good Assemblyman has done today. Thank you!
 
Mr. Tenzin Choden, North American Member of Parliament of the Tibetan Government in Exile, in his speech offered traditional gratitude to Assemblymember Blakeslee and his team. Mr. Chonden la also reiterated that despite His Holiness’s Middle Path Approach that seeks autonomy for Tibet – not independence – the Chinese government has ignored the proposal. He urged leaders of the State of California and the United States of America to use their diplomatic influence on the Chinese government to respond favorably to the proposal put forth by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He also announced that the Tibetan Parliament will be convening its meeting on March 9 during which Mr. Chonden will update His Holiness and the Parliament of Assemblymember Blakeslee’ initiative and Resolution today.
 
A delegation of Tibetan leaders comprising of Mr. Tenzin Chonden, Mr. Tenzin Tethong, Ms. Tsetan Panucharas (former President of the Los Angeles Friends of Tibet), Mr. Lobsang Dharchen (Vice President of Tibetan Association of Northern California), Mr. Sherab (Vice President of Tibetan Association of Southern California), two Tibetan monks, and myself were invited to accompany Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee into the State Assembly Hall as he made his case for Tibet and ACR 6 to his fellow Legislators. Despite the grandeur of the State Assembly Hall and the formality of the legislative proceedings, the Tibetan delegation was welcomed by the Assembly with standing ovation at which instant, I noticed, to my joy, that many Tibetans had also gathered above us at the mezzanine level where public could witness this special moment of pride, hope and joy. Several Assemblymembers came over and shook our hands, congratulated us on our perseverance and thanked us for our non-violent movement with assurances of their support for Tibet and Tibetans. It was an emotional moment for the Tibetans. Personally, it was momentous and moving.
 
After that uplifting welcome, the delegation with Assemblyman Blakeslee returned to the meeting hall where the Kids for Tibet, children from the Tibetan Association of Northern California's Sunday School Program, dedicated two Tibetan songs to Dr. Blakeslee. The entertainment concluded with two lively Rangzen songs by the Dharma Bums, a Freedom-Fusion Rock band led by Phil Hemley, a long-time supporter of Tibet since the 1960s.
 
In conclusion, on behalf of all the Tibetans present at the event, Ms. Dechen Tsering, President of Tibetan Association of Northern California, offered heartfelt gratitude to Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee and his team. She offered Tibetan silk scarves to Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee, his staff Chelsea Minor and Sally Kay who helped organize the event, the Amnesty International delegates, Tibetan speakers, and all the American supporters who performed. 
 
As an even more gracious finale to an already graceful day, Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee offered the original framed ACR 6 Proclamation to Mr. Tenzin Chonden, who will take it to Dharamsala and present it to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
 
The momentous event ended with lots of applauses, hopeful happy faces, gratitude, and of course, cameras flashing all around! It was a good day!
 
Visit Gallery page of  www.tanc.org or http://tanc.org/sacramento/index5.html for images.
 
Programme for March 2, 2009

Support the new resolution that Assemblyman Blakeslee introduced to the California State
Assembly, that aims to officially recognize March 10 as 
"Dalai Lama and Tibet Awareness Day." 
Attend the March 2 event below to learn more about Tibetan organizations in California and 
to support making March 10 a special day marked for Tibet.

A Day Commemorating Tibet  - Monday, March 2, 2009, 11:30am-1:00pm

California State Capitol, Sacramento, West Steps

Keynote Speakers

Tenzin N. Tethong, ¨Former representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Geshe Thupten Phelgye, ¨Member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (cancelled)

Banafshesh Akhlaghi, ¨Regional Director, Amnesty International

Tenzing Chonden, North American Member of Parliament of Tibetan Government in Exile

Cultural Performances By

Dharma Bums, Tibetan Freedom Fusion-Rock

Kids For Tibet, Sunday School Program of Tibetan Association of Northern California
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