Today marks the completion of 54 years since the establishment of democracy in the Tibetan community in exile. On this momentous occasion, I, on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile as well as the entire people of Tibet in and outside their homeland, and with unwavering devotion and hope demonstrated in great bodily, speech and mind reverence through countless prostrations to the deities, offer my greetings, keeping in the very centre of my heart the insuperable cause for gratitude borne of compassion we have been blessed to receive from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the Chenrezig in human bodily form, the divinely entrusted protector deity of Tibet, the spiritual lord of the Three Realms, a champion of world peace, the master across the world of the entire corpus of the teachings of the Buddha, the refuge and great leader of all Tibetans, the guide to them on the dos and don’ts in the ways of the world, the symbolic representation and the emblem of the unity of the Tibetan people, and the free spokesperson of the entire people of Tibet.
In the case of our religiously immersed land of Tibet too, the spiritual domain of the Lotus-Holding Supreme Bodhisattva of Compassion and which is renowned as the earth’s Third Pole, it has since the very advent of human existence been an independent country like all the others in the globe’s community of nations today. Uniquely endowed with the red-faced race of Tibetan people with their own linguistic heritage, religious and cultural traditions, territorial domain, history, and so on, it has been endowed since very ancient times with all the attributes acknowledged in every part of this world as indubitable evidences of an independent nation. What is more, Tibet has existed among the countries of central and eastern Asia, including its neighbours India and China, as a powerful country with an extremely long, millennia-old history and a highly developed culture which fully satisfied all its people’s requirements.
In order to embark on the path of democracy by transforming the historical political power system of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama newly set up in 1952 a Reform Bureau. And at the end of 1954, His Holiness also newly set up a separate judicial branch in Lhasa for the settlement of civil disputes. With measures such as these, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with great earnestness and positive frame of mind, devoted himself to reforming the traditional, outdated political system of Tibet. As a result of indebtedness owed solely to him for such profoundly admirable series of reform measures, the people of Tibet were set on a firm course towards a bright and happy future.
However, Communist China invaded the geopolitically neutral, internally peaceful, and religiously immersed country of Tibet and overwhelmed everything with its occupation rule. Consequently, on the morning of 10 March 1959, many tens of thousands of Tibetan people from all the three traditional provinces of Tibet, including the ecclesiastical and lay population of Lhasa, fully surrounded the Norbulingkha Palace to provide a human shield for His security. The popular uprising also saw Tibetans carrying out rallies, marching before areas in every part of Lhasa city where there were concentrations of Chinese, to demand that communist China leave Tibet. The developments compelled His Holiness the Dalai Lama, accompanied by his retinue, to flee to India and to seek a temporary political asylum there in order to be able to struggle for the restoration of the religious and political freedom and civil liberties of the Tibetan people. Thus, as a result of a variety and multitude of unavoidable obstacles, the reform measures introduced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama could not be carried out to the extent desired by him and they therefore remained unfulfilled for the time being. Within Tibet, the Chinese carried out such unimaginable series of endlessly brutal colonial policies as to transform the country into a vast territory of hell on this earth.
Under such dire and critical conditions which were unprecedented in the history of Tibet, compounded by scarcity of facilities, a Tibetan Government in Exile was especially set up with full legitimacy to collectively represent the Tibetan people living both in their homeland and in exile. Having done so, His Holiness the Dalai Lama then carried out a series of political and administrative reforms. It was in the course of carrying out such reformative measures that on 2 September 1960, the deputies of the first Tibetan Parliament in Exile took their solemn oath of office at a ceremony carried out before His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This marked the formal establishment of a democratic government of Tibet characterized by cohesion of spirituality and politics; it transformed the political system of Tibet as the beginning of our resolute journey towards a democratic system that will be fully in conformity with the systems prevailing in the politically advanced countries of this world.
In order to ensure that the exiled Tibetan system will be fully democratic in all its diverse fundamental and other aspects, and as an outcome of an initiative which was for long close to His holiness the Dalai Lama’s heart, a democratic constitution for a future free Tibet consisting of 10 chapters and 77 Articles was promulgated on 10 March 1963. Later on 28 June 1991, His Holiness gave assent to the Charter of Tibetans in Exile passed by the 11th Tibetan Parliament in Exile. He thereby ensured that the system of government of the Tibetans in exile was fully in conformity with the modern democratic one rooted in a fundamental legal charter. Along with it, and over the years since then, He brought about the establishment for the first time of a Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission as well as of the three autonomous bodies of the Central Tibetan Administration in exile. And in 2001, the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile was amended as desired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and under it the Kalon Tripa was directly elected by the Tibetan people. More recently, in 2011, His Holiness abrogated the historically established Gaden Phodrang headed system of Tibetan government. He thereby established an authoritative and stable Central Tibetan Administration in exile and ensured its continuance for as long as it would be necessary to sustain a leadership directly elected by the people until the just Tibetan cause prevails.
Speaking in general terms, democracy in the process of the historical evolution of the human civilization has meant the elimination of discriminations in society between the powerful and weak, rich and poor, men and women, or between different races of people, and so on. It has thereby meant giving primacy to the wishes of the general masses of people in society as a whole based on equality. For the realization of this great system of government and politics, the histories of not a small number of countries in this world show that they were victorious outcomes made possible only as outcomes of protracted turbulences of war, revolution, and other forms of internal struggle. Such efforts through use of people’s power to successfully realize the transformation of the country’s political system is a continuing trend to this day. However, in the case of the great democratic system that prevails in the Tibetan society, there was no need for a slightest bit of any such strife or struggle by the ordinary masses of people. Rather, it was gifted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet, with great happiness and affection to the general masses of Tibetan people. And this is the reason why if the Tibetan people as a whole fail to properly carry out their democratic responsibilities, one cannot predict what the adverse consequences will be. It therefore concerns the very essence of the matter that there should be no laxity on the part of everyone on any aspect of every part of his or her responsibility, bearing in the core of one’s heart the gratitude one owes to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the expectations that’s He has of us for the realization of both the immediate and long term Tibetan spiritual, political, and ethnic aspirations.
The implementation of authoritarian system by the government of China, over the past 60 years, had resulted in the death of over 1.2 million Tibetans. It also introduced coercive reform measures designed to counter everything that is unique and noble about the Tibetan people: their fine customs, religions and culture, and idealism. Through racial discrimination, it sought to impair the linguistic heritage of the Tibetan people and imposed severe limits on its study and use. It destroyed and plundered Tibet’s ancient historical objects and distorted the narratives of its history. In the so-called central government as well as the hierarchy of party leaderships, the Chinese have adhered to the ideology of never giving equal power to people from ethnic minority groups. Besides, in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region, no ethnic Tibetan has ever been appointed as its top leader. Not only that, over the past several years, serving ethnic minorities were removed from their positions of power one after another in the so-called ethnic minority autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures, and autonomous counties of the People’s Republic of China. They were all transferred to other, lesser posts. Exemplifying the old saying which bemoans the fact that one’s home had been usurped by one’s guest, ethnic Chinese officials have been continuing to grab the posts with power in these administrative levels.
From Tibet’s natural environment the Chinese government keeps mining and plundering all types of mineral resources. In the course of carrying out this reckless exploitation, sacred mountain sites and even ancestral crematoriums are being ploughed or dug up without any care or concern for the local Tibetans’ sensitivities. Rivers have been dammed and their flows diverted to distort the natural balance of the environment. These have led to natural calamities such as earthquakes and their accompanying catastrophic consequences. Trees have been cut from huge tracts of land in defiance of all kinds of limits from areas across Tibet, converting once vast grasslands and virgin forests into desolate desert wastelands. These have led to catastrophic landslides and floods. And because the government of China uses sites in Tibet to store nuclear materials and test atomic weapons, various kinds of previously unknown epidemic diseases have hit Tibetans in those areas. And through a policy of habitual bullying, debasement, criticism, and utter contempt, the Chinese government has hurled all kinds of false accusations against innocent Tibetans and executed or otherwise illegally imprisoned many of them. In the course of doing so, the Chinese authorities have subjected the Tibetan people to inhuman beating and torture. Many Tibetans have been taken away on unknown or undisclosed accusations and have been rendered disappeared. Implementation of such and other utterly reprehensible policies continue to this day.
People throughout the length and breadth of Tibet continue to make clear their total rejection of these policies of the government of China. This could be discerned especially from the great peaceful protests of the Earth-Mouse Year of 2008. From the year 2009 to 15 April 2014, a total of 130 Tibetan clerical and lay people, including men and women, have carried out self-immolation protests in Tibet. These Tibetans felt compelled to sacrifice their very lives and everything else that is of value to the living in their attempts to free fellow-Tibetans from their unbearable and prolonged period of suffering. Likewise, recently, many Tibetans, including village head Wangdak-la, of Denma Shugpa Village in Kham Dege area of Tibet, were forcibly taken away and kept in detention without any explanation of any reason. Some of them were killed in the detention centre through torture. Such and other tragic developments, including the self-immolation protests, continue to take place in Tibet today and we remain greatly concerned about them. We would like to reiterate that the government of China should bear full responsibility for all of these developments.
The middle way policy is a mutually beneficial one – beneficial not only to Tibet but also to China. It is designed to ensure the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious and cultural heritage, habits and customs, ethnicity, and other aspects of the Tibetan identity while the territory remains under the sovereign framework of the Constitution of China so that the two sides can coexist and get along with each other on the basis of equality. The mutual advantages are extremely self-evident. Nevertheless, the government of China keeps hurling all kinds of false accusations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and those who revere and admire him and follow him, calling them separatists, the reactionary Dalai government, and so on. It is a matter of great sadness that the government of China continues to remain indifferent to seeking a solution to the issue of Tibet, and, instead, chooses to keep repeating the false accusations and fabricated allegations.
Likewise, the government of China has not only refused to make any positive change to its policy towards Tibet but it also uses its officially run news media of various kinds as well as directs some of the followers of the controversial Dolgyal spirit to try to slander His Holiness the Dalai Lama. With regard to the followers of the Dolgyal spirit, they are a people concerned only about money and material gains, unable to properly follow the dos and don’ts of the Buddhist canons. They have shown themselves to be people whose actions betray a lack of basic human discernment and who refuse to subject themselves to truth and material facts. Their behaviours resemble the dancing of a person who has gone insane. We remain confident that the people in the international community in general, and the Chinese people in particular, will not be misled by such persons.
The government of China does not look upon Tibetans as a people endowed with dignity rightfully due to a human being. All its actions, wherever profitable, are geared towards benefiting and ensuring the well being of the communist Chinese government. In doing so, it ignores and tramples on every provision of the international bill of human rights. Because of it and the tragic situation in Tibet, many governments, private bodies, and organizations have sympathized with the people of Tibet and have, year after year, appealed to, advised, criticized, expressed hopes, and so on, to the government of China, calling on it to end its brutal policy of repression there. Nevertheless, the government of China has, far from heeding their urgent calls, kept on countering them with audacious falsehoods with criticisms such as that they were interfering in China’s internal affairs. Such a course of conduct on the part of the government of China is extremely incompatible with the norms of conduct among the 21stcentury civilized communities of peoples and nations. This being the very regrettable state of affairs today, we take this opportunity to call on the government of China to reform in a positive direction its extremely leftist way of thinking on the issue and, like the societies of the progressive and morally upright countries of today, urgently and spontaneously lead Tibet too to a new path of becoming an exemplary society of peace in coexistence with China, rooted in a foundation of harmony and stability.
On behalf of all Tibetans everywhere, we also take the opportunity presented by this occasion to express heartfelt thanks to the central and local governments and people of India and, likewise, to the governments, private bodies and organizations in the international community who support and respect justice and who have extended all kinds of direct, indirect and other forms of facilitative help and support on the issue of Tibet. And we appeal to them to continue to extend support to us with even greater vigour.
Finally, we earnestly pray that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a champion of global peace, live for a hundred aeons and see all his wishes fulfilled with spontaneity, that the just cause of the Tibetan people definitely prevail.
By The Tibetan Parliament in Exile
2 September 2014