Dharamshala: The Tibetan exile community came out in droves to vote for their next Sikyong and members of 17th Tibetan parliament in the preliminary elections of 2021 held today.
Across Dharamshala, the capital of the Tibetan diaspora, a total of 14 polling stations were set up in accordance with the Covid-guidelines.
Despite the ensuing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the preliminary round of the 2021 general elections reflected an extraordinary level of participation, most notably among the younger generation of Tibetans.
Soon after the polls commenced in Tibetan communities across the globe, selfies of voters with their inked fingers and posts encouraging eligible voters to exercise their rights swamped social media platforms.
The 2021 general election for Sikyong of the 16th Kashag and members of the 17th Tibetan Parliament is the third direct election of the Tibetan leadership since the complete devolution of political authority by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2011.
“The Tibetan democracy-in-exile reflects the true aspirations of our brothers and sisters inside Tibet,” said the incumbent Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay.
“By this, we are sending a clear message to Beijing that Tibet is under occupation but Tibetans in exile are free. And given a chance, an opportunity, we prefer democracy.”
Despite the hardships faced by the exile Tibetan community including an increasingly scattered population, the Tibetans under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration has over the last six decades successfully transformed into a fully functioning democracy that is lauded by many as a paragon of virtue for exile communities.
In what could be viewed as an extraordinary trajectory of the young Tibetan democracy in exile, tens of thousands of Tibetans worldwide came out to exercise their franchise to elect their future political leaders. The democracy in effect is truly a testament to the vision and farsightedness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who progressively distanced himself from the political role, stewarding the Tibetan exile community into a thriving democracy.