Today, we are celebrating the occasion of the 51st Democracy Day. This day also marks first Democracy Day since His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved his political powers to the elected Tibetan leadership. Therefore, this is a historic occasion.
Looking back into the past five decades, we have been successful in establishing our administration, preserving and promoting our spiritual and cultural heritage, and maintaining unity amongst the Tibetan people. While we cherish these great accomplishments, we should at the same time pay our heartfelt respect and gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for leading us into the path of democracy. Last year on the occasion of 50th anniversary of our Democracy Day in Bylakupee, South India, the parliament, on behalf of all the Tibetans, was able to present His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the Gold Medal, as our small token of gratitude, which is bound to become a source to accumulate our collective merits.
It is a common knowledge that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was fascinated by democratic principles since a young age and worked hard to bring social reforms in Tibet. However, his efforts failed due to Chinese occupation of Tibet. Immediately after His Holiness the Dalai Lama came into exile in India, he spoke about the importance of people to elect their representatives at during a religious teaching in Bodhgaya. Accordingly, the first elected members of the parliament took their oath of office on 2nd September 1960. Reforms were also introduced in the exile administration, including promulgation of the Draft Constitution of Future Tibet in 1963, which turned the exile administration into a fully functioning democracy. In 1991, the Charter for Tibetans-in-Exile was promulgated, which further strengthened the democratic exile community with three pillars of democracy. In 2001, provisions were created in the charter to enable the election of Kalon Tripa directly by the exile Tibetan people. In 2011, in a historic decision, His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved his political authority to the elected Tibetan leadership. These are, without a shadow of doubt, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision to benefit the Tibetan people and their struggle for freedom both the short and long-term.
We would also like to pay our tribute to the senior staff members and individuals who have tirelessly worked for the just cause of Tibet. What we have achieved so far is the result of their hard work and commitment. Therefore, we would like to knowledge and honour their courage and selfless dedication.
Taking this opportunity, we would also like to thank former Kalon Tripa, Samdong Rinpoche, for his leadership for ten years as the Speaker of the parliament, and later as a Kalon Tripa for another ten years. During these times, he has tried his best to fulfil the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by providing able leadership.
At a time when the world involved in great political and economic upheavals, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is fully committed to promoting global peace, non-violence and harmony. All the Tibetan people must join hands to realise His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s principles of world peace and harmony. It goes without saying that the further His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s great deeds spreads, better it is for the resolution of the Tibetan issue. Therefore, I request the Central Tibetan Administration, various NGOs and the general populace to unite and work in harmony with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision and also to face any future challenges and obstacles.
We are passing through stage where His Holiness the Dalai Lama has devolved his political authorities and Dr. Lobsang Sangay has taken over responsibility of Kalon Tripa. It it without doubt that the responsibilities of the Kalon Tripa has increased manifold in finding a resolution to the issue of Tibet, preserving and promoting Tibetan language, religion and culture, garnering further international support, imparting education to younger generation and creating a more stable Tibetan settlements. All these can be achieved only with the full support and cooperation from the concerned heads and staff members of the exile administration and the general public. Hence everyone must take their due responsibilities.
As one of the three pillars of democracy, the parliament would extend our full support to the 14th Kashag on all issues and especially in the coming session of the parliament, when it has to push forward many works, including approving new Kalons and make further amendments in the Charter.
Recently the members of the 15th parliament visited various settlements and locality where Tibetans live to talk about changes in the Central Tibetan Administration, and to solicit public opinions and find out conditions of the people. The parliamentarians would do the same again after the second session. This is to create a special bridge between the Central Tibetan Administration and the general populace and hence we request the concerned staff members and heads of settlements and the public to provide their unwavering support and cooperation.
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile is working to further build a strong Tibet support groups worldwide and especially in India in building close contacts with leaders, scholars, researchers, intellectuals and the media.
Changes are taking place around the world and in China as well. However, Beijing’s Tibet policy, instead of improving, continues with clear and systematic aims to annihilate Tibetan people and its fragile environment. Beijing has issued documents like Sixty Years Since Peaceful Liberation of Tibet and various White Papers on Tibet, which are propaganda materials filled with fabricated lies. The reality is that that the China continues to increase its colonial rule in Tibet, denying the Tibetans even basic rights. As a result Tibetans have live under constant fear and threat of harassment, arrest and imprisonment.
For instance, peaceful protests have been taking place one after another in Ngaba in Amdo and Kardze and Tawu in Kham, Eastern Tibet, against Chinese rule. On 16 March 2011 Lobsang Phuntsok, a monk from Kirti Monastery in Amdo self-immolated himself to demand basic rights for the Tibetans. Similarly, on 15 August Tsewang Norbu, another young monk from Nyitso Monastery in Kham self-immolated to express his grievances against the Chinese rule and to appeal for the restoration of peace and basic rights in Tibet. However, the Chinese authorities, instead of addressing these appeals have cracked down on the Tibetan people. This is the real situation in Tibet today under China.
We would like to pay our tribute the courage and spirit of the Tibetan people inside Tibet and stand in solidarity with them for their determination and audacity under the Chinese rule. We urgently and strongly appeal to the Chinese leaders to change its hardline policy on Tibet, and not to forcefully change the traditional life-styles of Tibetan nomads and farmers and to give complete religious freedom.
The basic aspiration of the Tibetans people, both in and outside Tibet, is to resolve the issue of Tibet. However, due to circumstance that are beyond our reach, if it takes a long time to regain our freedom, we should be well prepared for such an eventuality. Tibetans living in Tibet, using the rights and provision of enshrined in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and Laws on the Regional Autonomy, must work hard to preserve our unique cultural and spiritual heritage, and to protect Tibet's fragile environment. Those of us living in exile, we must put our collective efforts towards creating political and democratic maturity, and at the same abide by the laws of their respective countries or states. We must take active part in various Tibetan associations and communities in preserving and promoting our cultural and spiritual heritage.
On this special occasion, we would like to pay our heartfelt gratitude to the Tibet Support Groups around the world, the parliamentarians, heads of governments, and particularly central and the state governments of India and its people for providing us with a second home for over half a century. We remain grateful to you always and request for your continued support until the issue of Tibet is resolved.
Finally, I pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fulfilment of all his wishes. We would request from the bottom of our hearts to continue to provide us with your blessing and guidance. May the issue of Tibet be resolved soon.
2 September 2011
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile