Representatives of major spiritual organizations recently joined other prominent figures to support the creation of "World Tibet Day". At a meeting in Chicago, organizers agreed to establish World Tibet Day as an annual event to be held on July 5th, the Dalai Lama's birthday. The event is intended to rejoice in the unique and precious contribution of the Tibetan people and to celebrate and support their endangered culture and religion. It is also seen as an affirmation of religious and cultural freedom for all peoples. World-wide observances will be encouraged, all with attendant media coverage, partly to raise awareness about Tibet and partly to increase pressure on China to make substantial positive changes in the way the Tibetan people are treated.
The central event would be a festival - showcasing the variety and beauty of Tibet through such forms as dance, art and film as well as affirming the right of religious freedom and autonomy for the Tibetan people. On July 6th, around the world, the Tibetan Community already honors His Holinessís birthday. Part of the idea for World Tibet Day - which will be celebrated this year in most countries on Sunday July 5th - is to add to that event with a larger celebration that would bring much wider support to the Tibet movement. Following the traditional honoring of His Holinessís birthday by the Tibetan Community, celebrants of World Tibet Day will gather for a festival and picnic that will display the sights, smells, music, art and beauty of Tibet. Where itís feasible, parades may be organized that will end at the festival site. In the United States, coming right after the July 4th Independence Day celebrations, World Tibet Day will share in the spirit of freedom which Independence Day symbolizes.
On a Sunday prior to World Tibet Day, the clergy of the World would be encouraged to speak about World Tibet Day in their churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, gurudwaras, wherever they worship - displaying a poster of World Tibet Day; they would also speak about the universal right of religious freedom for all people.
The idea for World Tibet Day was initially proposed by Ma Jaya Bhagavati, Spiritual Director of Kashi Ashram in Florida and a Trustee of the Parliament of World Religions, during an informal dinner in Chicago with Tenzin Choegyal, brother to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Tenzin Choegal endorsed the idea and suggested his brother's birthday as an appropriate date for the event.
From the Tibetan Community and from Tibet Support Groups:
Dawa Tsering, Representative of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, to the Americas
Rinchen Dharlo, President, The Tibet Fund
John Ackerly, President, The International Campaign for Tibet
Erin Potts and Andrew Bryson, The Milarepa Fund
Thundup Namgyal Khorko, Chairperson, U.S. Tibet Committee
Pema Gashon, President, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of New York and New Jersey
Tsultim Dawa, President, Tibetan Association of New York
Lama Lobsang Ngodup, President, The Tibetan Monastery, New York
Karma Zurkang, Director, Tibet Alliance of Chicago
Ronit Herzfeld, World Artists for Tibet
Nena Thurman, Tibet House, New York
Ed Bednar, NYANA (New York Association for New Americans)
Guy Lieberman, Director of Dewachen, the Tibetan Cultural Center of South Africa
Bill Duckworth, Western Colorado Friends of Tibet
Mark Moore, (DEVI) Earthville Institute of Dharamshala
Rev. John Lundin, Coordinator, San Diego Friends of Tibet
Larry Gerstein, President, International Tibet Independence Movement
Judy Tethong, Canada Tibet Committee
Carol Fields, Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Thupten Gyaltsen and Pema Dechen Gorap, Colorado Friends of Tibet
Tom Scobie, Pasadena Friends of Tibet
Christy Barnard, Tibet Alliance of San Diego
Kathy Hargit, North Bay Active Campaign for Tibet
Simon Billenness, Senior Analyst, Franklin Research and Development
From Students for a Free Tibet:
From Spiritual and Religious Leaders and from the Interfaith Movement:
From Academia and Social Services:
From World Artists for Tibet:
As has been presented recently in a number of movies, including "Kundun" and "Seven Years in Tibet", there is presently a major threat to the survival of the Tibetan people, along with their culture and religion. As a result of a concerted campaign by Communist Chinese officials, over 1.6 million Tibetans have been killed and over 6000 monasteries have been destroyed since 1949. The Dalai Lama, spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, was forced to flee his homeland in 1959, and since then he has been living in exile in northern India, trying to establish a peaceful dialogue with China as well as working to keep alive the culture and religion of his people.
The World Tibet Day Organizing Committee is chaired by Brahma Das, a former national correspondent from the U.S. Senate and presently Media Director of the Kashi Foundation as well as Media Chairman of the Parliament of World Religions. He said that between now and July 5th, 1998, many spiritual leaders, public figures and various civic groups are expected to join in calling for World Tibet Day as an annual event, and he encouraged anyone to participate in World Tibet Day who wanted to support the right of the Tibetan people to exist and to practice their religion as well as those who support universal rights of religious freedom. "We know momentum and enthusiasm will surely grow from year to year for this annual event, and many voices are saying itís a good time to move forward."