Conference on Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal's Life and the Fate of Tibet

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Tibet-Phunwang-Conference-2014Dharamshala: - On Saturday, April 19, 2014, Tibetan scholars, writers, and other key leaders from the exiled community took part in a conference on the life of Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal and the fate of Tibet. Phunwang was the founder of the Tibetan Communist Party.

In the afternoon, Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, former Kalon Tripa of the Tibetan administration, also spoke about Phunwang's tireless efforts towards Tibetan people's right to self-determination, and the meaning of the Middle-Way Approach.

Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal, also known as 'Phunwang', was once an influential former Tibetan Communist leader. He has openly supported the Middle Way Approach proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a pragmatic solution to the current crisis in Tibet.

Phunwang stated that "the Dalai Lama's Middle Way Approach of seeking only meaningful autonomy for Tibet rather than independence, in the present critical context, is an expression of the great responsibility he takes in giving serious thought to the fundamental interests of the Tibetan people."

"It also shows that he takes great responsibility in understanding the issues concerning both sides and in carefully studying the changing circumstances. Furthermore, it is a thinking that is based on reality and foresight," he added.

Prof Samdhong Rinpoche also praised the Bapa Association for organising the conference to discuss his lifelong contribution and ideologies. He wrote several articles about the equal rights of minority nationalities and unity amongst minorities.

Speaking of China's ethnic minority groups, Rinpoche also described the difference between 'nationality', 'race', 'minority', and 'ethnicity', and the literal meaning of 'Mi rig' in Tibetan language.

"When drafting the memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan people, much of the terminology was drawn from the Phunwang's works," Samdhong Rinpoche added.

Other panelists included Kalsang Gyaltsen, special envoy of His Holiness the Dalai lama, Chung Tsering, researcher, Serta Tsultrim, MP and journalist, Ven Rongpo Lobsang Nyindak, MP, and Kalsang Gyaltsen, researcher and MP.

They each expressed their thoughts on Phunwang's life and the impact his tireless efforts made towards resolution of the Tibet issue. Phunwang has been dealing with Beijing's repressive policies and the right of self-determination in regard to the question of China's ethnic minority policies.

The conference was held at the new hall of the Tibetan Library Archives (TWA) and organized by 'Bapa Association' in Dharamshala. Indeed, all panelists highly praised his efforts toward solving problems to bring freedom to Tibet. Panelists first started with a 25-minute speech in which they expressed their opinion on the different topics related Phuwang and Tibet.

Chung Tsering, a Tibetan writer who translated a biography of Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal from Tibetan into English, said that "people must have different view points, which is possible to represent both positive and negative. We know it is not reality without different view points, because historical facts cannot be changed by such reactions."

Speaking of Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal's witness to Tibet's history during a critical era, Serta Tsultrim spoke about Wangyal's views on Tibetan history. He said that "Phunwang's first attempt was a liberation and not invasion of Tibet, as his ultimate goal was a united independent Tibet."

Sharing his experience about his meetings with the Tibetan communist leader in Beijing, Ven Rongpo Lobsang Nyindak said Phunwang had an incredibly unique personality. He communicated with soft-spoken, well chosen words. After the late Panchen Lama, it was Phunwang who raised the strongest voice for Tibetans within the Chinese leadership, sacrificing his own personal interest. He also gave a detailed account of Phunwang's historical relationship with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the 10th Panchen Lama.

Kalsang Gyaltsen, who serves as the Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Europe, spoke about the Sino-Tibet talks and Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal. He highlighted Phunwang's strong commitment towards Tibetan people's distinctive culture and identity as well as his advocacy for the Middle Way Approach towards resolving the Tibet issue.

He said, "The path he chose may seem controversial. It's a little early to judge him regarding issues he left behind, but history will absolve him. After the period of his earliest youth, there were different types of problems including wars continue to grow in most parts of the world."

Kalsang Gyaltsen, MP and and researcher on Chinese politics, spoke about China's policy toward minorities and Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal.

The meeting brought forth Phunwang's sacrifice for Tibet, and his tireless efforts to create a socialist Tibet encompassing all Tibetans in the three traditional provinces of Tibet under a single administration.

Phunwang was a key figure in drafting the 17-Point Agreement to ensure Tibetan people's right to regional national autonomy. He strongly called China to engage in a political dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which he thought would be the only key to lasting solution to the Tibet question.