Tibetan leadership reaffirms commitment to the Middle Way Approach and pledged to carry forward the vision of His Holiness by strengthening the foundations of Tibetan democracy
DHARAMSHALA: The Tibetan diaspora across the world celebrated the joyous occasion of its 56th anniversary of Tibetan democracy day today. At Dharamshala, the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration, the occasion was marked with an official function at Tsuglagkhang attended by Tibetan Justice Commissioners, Tibetan parliamentarians, members of the Kashag and Tibetan officials along with the public.
The chief guest at the official function was Mr Mukut Mithi, former Chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh and current member of Rajya Sabha, while the special guest was Dr Arun Kumar, a member of the Indian parliament in the Lok Sabha. Both the distinguished guests were long-time supporters of the Tibetan cause in the Indian parliament.
In his address, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay spoke briefly about the evolution of Tibetan democracy and highlighted His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision and constant efforts in steering the democratic institution of Central Tibetan Administration towards success.
“Before the Chinese occupation of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama set up a reform committee in an attempt to make structural changes in the Tibetan political and administrative system and transform them into a modern democratic institution. But owing to many formidable challenges the changes weren’t implemented. However, soon after his arrival in India, His Holiness followed his vision by making the political system of exile Tibetans a democratic institution,” Sikyong said.
“In 1960, on this very day, the Tibetan parliament-in-exile was established with the assumption of responsibilities by members of Tibetan Parliament elected from three provinces and various religious sects representing Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. Henceforth, the Tibetan democratic system progressed and matured into a full-fledged democratic system, and this is due solely to the pioneering and visionary efforts of His Holiness the Dalai Lama over the last 56 years. So I take this opportunity on behalf of every Tibetan to express our heartfelt gratitude to our most revered leader.”
Sikyong also urged the Tibetan public to fulfill His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s sacred aspiration to forge internal harmony and unity among the three traditional provinces of Tibet, and be mindful of the responsibilities that come along with democratic rights.
“Likewise as citizens of a democratic institution we need to be mindful of the fact that while democracy bestows us with the rights it also expects us to shoulder our responsibilities. Like two sides of the same coin, rights and responsibility are closely entwined. Democracy confers you with the right to speech and freedom of expression and in a democracy diversity of opinion should be respected. But these rights and privileges shouldn’t be misused. As much as democracy gives you the right and freedom, it also demands accountability, ownership and agency. Engaging in acts of defaming His Holiness the Dalai Lama and leveling unfounded criticism against the CTA is an affront to the gift and tenets of Tibetan democracy,” Sikyong said.
At the same time, Sikyong drew attention towards the abysmal human rights situation prevailing inside Tibet and urged the Chinese government to shoulder responsibility to alleviate the human rights situation and protect Tibet’s environment so that China could become a responsible stakeholder in the global affairs.
Sikyong concluded his address by reaffirming the CTA’s commitment to the Middle Way Approach and pledged to carry forward the vision of His Holiness by strengthening the foundations of Tibetan democracy.
The Chief Guest Mr Mukut Mithi, in his keynote address, said that Tibet and India are attached culturally, historically and sentimentally. Therefore, as an Indian, he said that he have been closely associated with the Tibet cause and raised the Tibet issue several times in various forums.
He lauded His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s admirable leadership in strengthening Tibetan democracy by establishing the Central Tibetan Administration, and said that the world including India stands with the Tibetan people in their just and peaceful movement.
He also promised to raise the Tibet issue in the Indian parliament and said that the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum For Tibet, of which he is an esteemed member, has decided to make an appeal to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to address the Indian parliament.
Dr Arun Kumar, in his address, applauded the non-violent and vibrant democratic institution of the Tibetan people established through the vision and efforts of His Holiness. “The way you have established a democratic institution with judiciary, legislative and executive body is truly remarkable. It sends a strong message to China that the Tibetan movement will go on unless China resolves the Tibet issue soon,” he said.
Further expressing his support, he said that the Tibet issue is linked to the entire humanity, as the Tibetan civilization is a unique and ancient civilization. “China’s attempt to annihilate Tibetan culture and civilization is completely immoral and India should intervene to safeguard Tibet’s culture and environment as well as for its own protection,” he added.
Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel read out the statement of the Tibetan parliament. In the statement, the Tibetan parliament underlined the need to strengthen democratic institutions in exile and ensure that compatriots in Tibet enjoy the similar rights to live in freedom and with dignity.
“As to whether the democratic system of the Tibetans in exile will attain stability and make progress, much will depend on the intellectual maturity, the capability to uphold the greater good of the whole above all else, and the existence of a sense of cooperation within the Tibetan public,” Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel said.
“Inside China, there is no indication that the government of China may change its policy towards Tibet. In fact, the policy has been becoming ever more repressive and ominous,” he noted and cited a few examples of violation of fundamental rights of the Tibetan people over the past several months.
He further called on China to reform their failed policies to resolve the Tibet issue as soon as possible and at the same time called on Tibetans to remain unrelenting and adhere steadfastly to their commitment at all times in persevering to reach their goal.
The function also featured cultural performances and presentation of awards to meritorious students and Tibetan Entrepreneurship Development (TED) investment award winners.