Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile’s Statement on 52nd Democracy Day
September 2, 2012
We are today observing a particularly important occasion, namely the day marking the 52nd anniversary of our democracy. In this vast world there are many countries with diverse races of people, with their own different customs, traditions, histories, cultures and so on. Each of them have evolved different systems and ideologies of governance in accordance with their own unique situations and on the basis of the evolutions of their particular societies. However, it is democracy which is the system most loved by all the people. It is for the cause of democracy that generations after generations of people have sacrificed their lives in an unceasing quest to realize the benefits of it. The history behind it all is very obvious to us all. However, the benefits of democracy that we the Tibetan people have come to enjoy did not evolve in that way. Rather, genuine democracy, with all its beneficial implications, has been personally handed down to us as a gift by His Holiness the Dalai Lama with a great sense of elation and love borne of His infinitely compassionate realization that this was in the best possible current, future and longer term interests of the Tibetan people whose spiritual guardian he remains. And so, this is a unique day of great gratitude for a globally unprecedented deed of wondrous cause for adulation which we owe to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
From the day He assumed the temporal and spiritual leadership of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama set out on a quest to introduce democratic reforms designed to modernize the political and government systems of the country. For that purpose He tried to initiate a number of measures, including with the setting up for the first time of a reform commission, for the purpose of gradually setting Tibet on a course towards democracy based on freedom. Unfortunately, because of the Chinese invasion and oppressive pressures of various kinds exerted by the Chinese government during that period, there was no opportunity for Him to be able to fulfil His noble wishes. And so, immediately after arriving in exile in India, when Tibetans who had followed him after his escape gathered on the sacred ground of Bodh Gaya from across the country and sought to swear a solemn oath of utmost sanctity to follow his absolute leadership, His Holiness went ahead to press His wish that the Tibetan people vote to elect their own representatives. Accordingly, on 2 September 1960, the members of the first Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile took their oath of office before His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The great path of Tibetan democracy was thereby laid. Thereafter through successive courses of events, a draft constitution for a future, free Tibet was proclaimed. And after many years of experiences gained from taking successive steps and making progress through progressive stages, His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1991 increased the number of deputies representing the different constituencies in the 11th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. Along with it, and with a view to set a new course in an effort to ensure the establishment of a meaningful democratic system in all its aspects, He finalized a new Charter of Tibetans in Exile and a requisite set of rules and regulations along with it. He changed the manner in which the Kalons had thitherto been appointed. The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile was transformed into a true lawmaking body. From 2001, the system by which the Kalon Tripa was directly elected by the Tibetan people was established. In particular, in 2011, His Holiness devolved all his political and administrative powers to the leaders directly elected by the Tibetan people. These are unprecedented and unimaginable deeds worthy of great admiration carried out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the immediate, future and longer term good of the Tibetan people and nation.
It has been a little more than a year ago that His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved all his political and administrative powers to the leadership directly elected by the Tibetan people. During that period, efforts have been made to carry on the work of the Central Tibetan Administration and its affiliate units with ever greater success than in the past, as desired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; and our efforts in that direction still continues. Our success in these endeavours is not only a source of great happiness to the Tibetan people but also an emphatic rebuff and cause for dismay to communist China whose successive leaders have never ceased to entertain a vicious hope for the disintegration of the Tibetan community in exile as a united people. Nevertheless, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama counsels us constantly, we should hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. We, therefore, take this opportunity to appeal to the Tibetan people as a whole that they all should assume greater responsibility for the collective cause.
Last year, after His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved all his political and administrative powers to the elected leadership of the Tibetan people, the relevant provisions of the Charter of Tibetans in Exile as well as the rules and regulations governing the Tibetan Administration in Exile were suitably amended. It was thereby ensured that the status of the Central Tibetan Administration that was established in its wake continued to be the same as that of the erstwhile set up in terms of its being recognized by the Tibetan people. This fully democratically established Central Tibetan Administration will remain rock stable for as long as the just cause of the Tibetan people remains to be resolved, with the political leadership elected by them remaining firm in pursuing a free and democratic path towards it, and continuing to represent the Tibetan people both in Tibet and in exile.
Since militarily annexing Tibet in 1959, the armed forces of communist China launched campaigns in the name of Democratic Reform and Cultural Revolution to completely destroy all the monasteries and other places of worship in the occupied territory. This was followed by ushering in of policies called reform and opening up, liberalization, freedom of religious belief and so on. But these policies were like allowing a community of fish to nurture and flourish in the gaping mouth of an alligator. The policy did allow a modicum of opportunity to rebuild some of the destroyed monasteries. However, through successive campaigns in the name of socialism, education in patriotic thinking, stability of the motherland and building a harmonious society, and so on, all sorts of restrictions and controls, including age limits and other conditions, were imposed on monks and nuns. Besides, through use of various terms, the Chinese government has set out to obliterate the religious practices and canonical commitments of the monks and nuns by forcing them to accept television sets and making them watch programmes that falsely depict the policies of the communist party of China as excellent. The religious teachers, students and practitioners were thereby deprived of the opportunities of “hearing and thinking”, “preaching and learning” and “teaching, practicing and observing the vows” which are the hallmarks of the practice of the Buddhist faith. The policy design behind such a course of depriving Tibet’s monastic community of the opportunities for genuine practice of their faith could only be to destroy the religion. Even hermitages built in remote places and temples have been converted into market commodities as exhibition centres to serve the tourism industry, thereby making them into one more source for generating income for the government of China. Likewise, through the implementation of projects of various kinds designed to destroy Tibet’s environment in general terms and its wild lives and so on in particular, China continues to cause very serious damages to the land. Through employment of bullying tactics and imposition of occupational reforms, Tibet’s vast community of nomads is being subjected to all sorts of objections and difficulties in their continued pursue of their centuries-old traditional way of life. Likewise, using the pretexts of celebrating the anniversaries and other events of various kinds at the levels of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Prefectures and the Counties, the government of China carries out military exercises of various kinds across the land both in air and on land as well as armed forces deployments. Through such intimidating maneuvers, the Tibetan people are being made to sing, dance and engage in other kinds of celebration activities to praise the Communist Party of China. Pictures are taken of such events and shown both in China and to the outside world, with the false and exaggerated explanation that earthshaking progress had taken place in Tibet under Chinese rule. In particular, Tibetans are not being allowed to display even pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama whom they hold as more precious than their lives and their hearts. And the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama still remains unknown. To make it brief, the people of Tibet under Chinese rule continue to suffer hell on earth through endless days and nights of strike-hard campaigns of various kinds which deprive them of the right to peaceful enjoyment of all their rights and freedoms, including in the areas of their religious faith, culture, language and script, and the environment.
Nevertheless, Tibetans both in Tibet and in exile have not lost their sense of Tibetan identity and heritage. Rather, through successive generations they have, with determination and indomitable courage, stood like an unshakeable mountain in their sense of selfless loyalty to their people and nation, and for the sake of their nation’s spiritual and political causes. In that spirit, countless number of Tibetan men and women, whether from the communities of the laity or of the clergy, have carried out successive movements to oppose and protest against the wrong policies of the Chinese government. In particular, from 2009 to 27 August 2012, according to reliable, proven information, a total of 51 Tibetans belonging to the communities of both the laity and the clergy have immolated themselves, and of them 41 have died. In these entirely non-violent protest actions in Tibet, as well as in the campaigns carried out in the outside world, the Tibetan people have raised demands that highlighted the just cause of the Tibetan people in general terms and in particular called for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to be invited back to Tibet, for the Tibetan people to be granted their rights and freedoms, for the policies designed to destroy the religious and cultural traditions of the Tibetan people to be halted, and so on. However, the Chinese government unleashed its paramilitary People’s Armed Police troops on the Tibetan protesters to suppress them. Their indiscriminate use of unrestrained violence have resulted in many precious Tibetan lives being lost and even more number of Tibetans being detained, arrested or rendered disappeared. By holding high above our heads the deeds of courage shown by the heroic Tibetans in Tibet who endure endless streams of oppression and torture, with a feeling of empathy and oneness with them through good and bad times, and with a view to seek the realization of all their aspirations, we continue to carry out substancial measures of non-violent campaign actions. And, of course, we intend to continue to carrying out such actions till the very end so long as we do not achieve our goal. For the purpose of working out a response to the current tragic situation in Tibet, it has been decided that a second Special General Meeting of Tibetans in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter of Tibetans in Exile will be held from September 25 to 28 this year.
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile on July 6 this year led the launch of a Flame of Truth rally from three places in India and this rally is still continuing. And from today, the 2nd day of September, this campaign is planned to be launched gradually in more than 30 other countries, excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan. We appeal to all the Tibet Support Groups and fellow-Tibetans living in these countries to extend their support to the rally as well as to participate in it.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has on successive occasions emphasized that while the Tibetan people do not lack in terms of our unique culture, customs, traditions, and so on, we must also take to the path of improving and progressing in our modern knowledge. All fraternal Tibetans must be clear in our understanding of the fact that ever since the time when human beings evolved on this earth, we have been of the same flesh, blood and bones in our ancestry and that the profound and vast spiritual and cultural heritage that we have inherited is our common national wealth to be treasured. We should not only preserve it but also pursue our education so as to gain mastery in every field of the modern world knowledge. To be thereby able to gain equality with and walk shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world is the common duty of all the tsampa-eating Tibetans. In particular, it is important to understand that the youths of today are the masters of future Tibet. Efforts should therefore be made by every available means, by everyone concerned, and with ever greater vigour that without suffering any degeneration in their unique Tibetan characteristics marked by truthfulness, moral uprightness, and kindness, they should all be able take off by flapping their wings in a synchrony of both traditional and modern educational upbringings.
Taking the opportunity of today’s occasion, we have a message for the leaders of the People’s Republic of China as well. At this moment China is nationally preoccupied with a flurry of urgent activities, including especially over the upcoming leadership changes. Nevertheless, we would like to call on them not to ignore and scorn the issue of Tibet even while knowing fully well that it has been continuously gaining ever greater urgency internationally. We urge them to have a serious sense of responsibility on the situation in Tibet and review all the policies that they have adopted on it thus far. And we would like to remind them with urgency to make efforts to hold peaceful negotiations so as to find a way to accommodate and fulfil in a meaningful manner the genuine aspirations of the Tibetan people.
It is inherent in the nature of the world today that the countries in it are interdependent, including in the field of economy. Nevertheless, we appeal to all the nations and peoples of this world who love freedom and justice not to be obsessed with the primacy of their temporary economic interests alone. Rather, we appeal to them to truthfully support the Tibetan people in both words and deeds on the basis of understanding the justness of the Tibetan cause. Once the Sino-Tibetan dispute, which is centered in the centre of middle-east Asia, is fully solved, not only will the troubles simmering between the world’s two most populous countries be resolved but also it bears no mention that the whole world will reap the greatest possible amounts of peace and other dividends and benefits. Today, parliaments of many countries of the world and other bodies have adopted resolutions and so on to express support for the just cause of the Tibetan people while various other forms of support also continues. We would like to reiterate our appeal to them to continue doing so with ever greater vigour, given the fact that the situation in Tibet continues to deteriorate with a constantly rising seriousness.
Today, the government of China, having abandoned all sense of shame, makes a show of flaunting its vicious, hardline policies. On that basis, it invariably ignores and tramples upon all international expressions of support for the just cause of the Tibetan people, with there being no question whatsoever of it acknowledging, much less considering implementing, even a tiny part of such criticisms or calls to redress the situation in Tibet. More than that, China withdrew and brought to an end the series of talks between the two sides that was in fact initiated by itself in the first place. At the same time, China greatly strengthened the state of repression and brutality in Tibet with greater intensity than in the past. And because such repression and persecution continues unabated, we would like to call with emphatic stress on the UN and many of its member countries, as well as on governments, peoples, organizations of various kinds, prominent public figures, journalists, and so on who support freedom and justice to carry out thorough investigations to find out the truth about the aspirations of the Tibetan people, the brutally inhuman policies being pursued by the government of China in Tibet, and on the truly voluminous streams of misrepresentations, lies and distortions of facts that China continues to bring out. They should stress to the Chinese government that it is high time that it should find a way to try to resolve with speediness, and in whatever way it can, the troubled situation in Tibet in general terms and especially the very serious crisis that continues there today.
Also, on this momentous celebrative occasion, we would like to express heartfelt gratitude to the central and state governments and to all the people of India for having extended immense facilities of livelihood, education and so on to the Tibetan refugees over the last more than 50 years, undeterred by difficulties and obstacles. Likewise, we would also like to express our gratitude to the many governments of the world, leaders, the Tibet support group community, and the private individuals who support and have been supporting the Tibetan cause.
Finally, we pray that His Holiness the Dalai Lama live a long, long life, that all his wishes be fulfilled in a spontaneous manner, and that the just cause of the Tibetan people be definitely realised expeditiously.
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Dharamsala
2 September 2012
* In case of any discrepancy in meaning, the original, Tibetan text should be considered as the authoritative one