By Phuntsok Yangchen
Phayul Photo/Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, September 2: Thousands of Tibetans packed the courtyard of Tsug-la Khang to take part in the celebrations of the 54th Tibetan Democracy day here. The official function was attended by Sri Ravi Thakur, MLA, as the chief guest, and the Tibetan PM Lobsang Sangay, Tibetan Parliament’s speaker Penpa Tsering, Chief Justice Comissioner Ngawang Phelge, members of the Kashag and Tibetan MPs, among others.
The Kashag in its statement called the day the second most significant event after the introduction of Buddhism that the Tibetans have “fully realised His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s cherished wish to transform the Tibetan polity into a vibrant democracy."
Tibetan Prime Minister Dr Lobsang Sangay said, “The gift of democracy given to us by His Holiness the Dalai Lama has provided us with a voice and the power to influence our own future. We must ensure our compatriots in Tibet enjoy the similar rights to live in freedom and with dignity.”
“One way to nurture and promote Tibetan democracy is to cherish and practice and not by abusing the rights granted. The hallmark of democracy is unity in diversity in its various forms. Unity does not necessarily mean uniformity but basic civility is a must,” Sangay added.
Tibetan Prime Minister further condemned the recent firing by Chinese police on peaceful protesters in Denma town in Karze and recently held “2014 Forum on the Development of Tibet, China” and it’s “Lhasa Consensus” which reported that the Tibetans in Tibet enjoy a happy and peaceful life. He said that it failed to show “the reality of ongoing Chinese political repression in the larger number of Tibetans at the grassroots level in Tibet.”
Since 2009, 131 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies. PM Sangay remembered the sacrifices of Tibetan self immolators and said that the Tibetan government will make all effort in fulfilling the aspirations of the self immolators.
Sangay also called upon China to protect Tibet’s ecosystem and adopt policies integrating local traditional knowledge of the plateau.
The Chief Guest of the occasion, Ravi Thakur, Member of Legislative Assembly and Vice-Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Tribe said that Tibetan community today has become very successful and vibrant democracy and a role model for the world.
“It is an inspiration for the world to note that Tibetan people’s journey towards building very successful and robust democracy under the remarkable leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the face of challenging stances in exile.”
Thakur also noted that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the most revered Buddhist leader and has made tireless effort to promote the ideals of compassion, non-violence and inter-religious harmony in the world.
He further expressed his solidarity towards the critical condition in Tibet and said the sacrifices made by the Tibetan self-immolators “will not go in vain”.
Moreover, Thakur commended the Middle Way Approach proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and said, “Only the His Holiness the Dalai Lama with his vision and far sightedness can show a path as this which will ensure meaningful and peaceful condition on the roof of the world.”
In his address, Speaker Penpa Tsering of the Tibetan Parliament in exile gave a detail account on the evolution of Tibetan democracy.
Tsering further criticized China for using its officially run news media and followers of Dorje Shugden (dolgyal) to slander His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Nine students who topped in their respective streams in the 2014 All India Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations were felicitated by Sangay with the new ‘Sikyong Award’ for excellence in academics. Two Ph.D students were also awarded with the Gaden Phodrang Students Award’ award.