Young Tibetans gather for first youth empowerment forum in Dharamsala


‘We are amplifying the voices of Tibetans inside Tibet,’ says one participant.

Young Tibetans gather for first youth empowerment forum in Dharamsala

Young Tibetans listen to a speaker at the first International Tibet Youth Forum, which runs from July 18-20 in Dharamsala, India.

For Tenzin Tsedup Lodoe, the first-ever the International Tibet Youth Forum is a way for young Tibetans to take the initiative to preserve their religious beliefs and culture, which are under attack by the Chinese government.

“At the end of the day, action is what matters,” he told Radio Free Asia. “ Tibetan youth should play a bigger part because we are the future, and we should be the ones taking the initiatives and responsibilities.”

The youth activist from Washington, D.C., and co-founder of the Bodja podcast was one of more than 100 young Tibetans from 16 countries attending the forum in Dharamsala, India, at the invitation of the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan government-in-exile. His podcast aims to raise awareness among Tibetan youth about news and events concerning Tibet. 

Fellow participant Chime Lhamo, a human rights activist and campaign director of Students for a Free Tibet in New York, said Tibetan youths have a huge role to play when it comes to advocacy. 

“Our older generations were busy trying to survive, put food on our table and protect our Tibetan identity, but the younger generation has the opportunity not just to survive, but now we are thriving in our own neighborhoods,” she said. 

“We have a wonderful, precious opportunity to not only give back to the Tibetan community in exile, but also play a role in making sure that we are amplifying the voices of Tibetans inside Tibet.” 

The theme of the event, which runs from July 18-20, is “empowering voices and inspiring actions for Tibet’s future.” 

The forum comes amid an ongoing effort by the Chinese government to maintain its control of those who live in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in Tibetan-populated areas incorporated into Chinese provinces by suppressing expressions of their Buddhist religion.   

Tibetans accuse Chinese authorities of violating their human rights and trying to eradicate their religious, linguistic and cultural identity.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism who is currently in Ladakh for a month-long sojourn, addressed the participants in a short video, urging them to preserve Tibetan culture and tradition. 

“The new generation of Tibetans living in different parts of the world should never forget our own tradition of moral behavior,” said the Dalai Lama. “Those living in India may not find this difficult, but those living in the West are also doing well to cherish and preserve our culture and traditions. Those with young minds should be made aware of Tibetan’s tradition of consideration for others.” 

Instead of feeling anger towards China, whose military troops crushed a revolt in Tibet in March 1959 that forced the Dalai Lama to flee to India, young people and other Tibetans should “generate compassion for them,” he said. 

Events like the youth forum are important because they inculcate leadership in young Tibetans and ensure they keep Tibetan culture alive, Sikyong Penpa Tsering,the head of the Central Tibetan Administration,told Radio Free Asia.

“The younger generation is the future of Tibet,” he said. “Our investment in the younger generation is very important. Otherwise if we are not able to bring up the younger generations as future leaders then we would be failing in our duty.”

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

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