By Tenzin Tsering
His Holiness accepts the Godel Seal from TPIE Speaker Penpa Tsering and Deputy Speaker Dolma Gyari, Bylakuppe, Sept 2, 2010
Bylakuppe, September 2: The 50th anniversary celebrations of Tibetan democracy was commemorated today in Bylakuppe, the largest Tibetan settlement in India where the first Tibetan General Meeting concluded yesterday.
At the official function at Sera monastic university, the Tibetan government and people honored their leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama with “the Golden Seal” for leading the Tibetan freedom struggle and for establishing democracy in Tibetan polity. The Tibetan leader accepted the award from Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan parliament in exile.
Among those present at the official function were 17 parliamentarians from 14 different countries including members of International Network for Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPat), Karnataka State government’s Minister for Medical Education Ramachandra Gowda, Tibetan parliamentarians, members of the Kashag and other dignitaries of the exile Tibetan government.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama thanked the members of parliament from other countries for their support to the Tibetan government and its people. “I always say that those of you who support us are not pro Tibet but pro justice. Your support encourages the Tibetan people in keeping their hopes alive and it also helps in creating awareness among a lot of Chinese people in mainland China who are unaware of the reality,” said His Holiness.
Karnataka's Minister for Medical Education Ramachandra Gowda addresses the gathering, Bylakuppe, Sept 2, 2010
“There are voices for change in the Communist Chinese policies, especially from Chinese intellectuals which in itself is a significant change in the Chinese regime. Such voices for change and reform would have guaranteed imprisonment in the early years of Communist China. Now there are changes in the general Chinese mentality regarding Tibet,” His Holiness added.
The Tibetan leader expressed his gratitude to the Karnataka State government and the Indian government for providing refuge to the Tibetans thereby helping preserve the distinct culture and identity of Tibet in the various Tibetan settlements.
Addressing the gathering, the Tibetan Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche said, “Democracy will remain incomplete until the entire Tibetan people of Tibet get a genuine autonomy with freedom of conscience, speech, human dignity and where human rights are duly respected.”
He further urged the world parliamentarians to bring democracy to those nations where it does not exist and stressed on “genuine democracy as the best remedy to all human problems of today.”
Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in exile, Penpa Tsering said, “Struggle for democracy around the world is achieved with bloody revolutions. But His Holiness with his benevolent leadership has awarded democracy to the Tibetans, which is one of the rare historic moments of the world.” The Speaker also urged “the Tibetans spread across the world to participate in the coming elections of Kalon Tripa and members of the parliament to contribute to the success of Tibetan democracy.”
This year completes 50 years since His Holiness the Dalai Lama declared democracy for Tibetans in 1960 and promulgated a constitution for a future Tibet, based on the principles of modern democracy.
To support his declaration of democracy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama established a Tibetan Government-in-exile, with a parliament directly elected by the people. As part of democratic reforms, the Dalai Lama, in 1991, announced the “Charter for Tibetans in exile”, which, amongst other things, expanded the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, (now called Tibetan Parliament in exile) and were empowered to appoint the Cabinet (Tib: Kashag).
As part of further democratization, in 2000, the Tibetan leader instituted another reform, requiring exile Tibetans to directly elect their Prime Minister with full administrative power. In 2001, for the very first time, Tibetans from 27 countries voted on a single day, with more than 80 percent electing Professor Samdhong Rinpoche as the first Kalon Tripa elected directly by the people. The former academician is now in his second term that ends next year when the Tibetans will go to polls to elect the next Prime Minister and 15th Tibetan parliament in exile.