The Dalai Lama Turns 80

“In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.”

2015 marks the 80th anniversary of the birth year of Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet. Born on July 6, 1935 and trained from a young age as a Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama was thrust early into his role as Tibet’s national leader after Communist China invaded and occupied the independent Himalayan country in 1950. Due to China's failure to honor its promises, His Holiness fled Tibet in 1959 to save Tibet and its culture. Thousands of Tibetans then followed him into exile. The exile government that he established in Dharamsala, India, is now headed by an elected political leader called the Sikyong, while the Dalai Lama himself remains Tibet’s spiritual leader. As a Nobel laureate, the Dalai Lama frequently travels internationally. Throughout the world His Holiness is considered a beacon of peace to millions of people. He is the face of the Tibetan people and their ongoing struggle for freedom, and he represents the hope of a compassionate humanity for all.

Tibetans Celebrate

From Los Angeles to Dharamsala, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, thousands of Tibetans celebrated their religious leader's 80th birthday.


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Quotes from the Dalai Lama

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The Life and Accomplishments of the Dalai Lama

From his exile in India and in his travels around the world, the Dalai Lama has called for nonviolence, peace, and religious harmony.


Tibetans Defy Chinese Restrictions to Celebrate Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday

RFA’s Karma Dorjee says Chinese authorities have warned Tibetans not to mark the politically sensitive event.

Tibetans openly celebrate Dalai Lama’s birth year

The celebration was part of observances marking Losar, Tibet’s Lunar New Year holiday.

Other Features

Tibetan Self-Immolations

Over 140 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in recent years to protest the repressive rule of the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama has stated that he does not encourage his people to continue to protest in such drastic ways. At the same time, Beijing has responded with added security measures and arrests. However, the self-immolations continue with no end in sight.

A Reply to China’s White Paper on Tibet

By Warren Smith

In October 2013, China published its eighth White Paper on Tibet. Here, RFA analyst Warren Smith weighs China’s claims of progress in Tibet against the truth of Tibetans’ lives under Beijing’s rule.