• Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times
2ndseptember2011kalontripaDharamshala: Tibetans living in Dharamshala, India celebrated their 51st Democracy Day today, September 2. The ceremony was held at the main temple in McLeod Ganj, and the chief guest was Minister of Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal. Also presiding over the occasion were Kalon Tripa (Tibetan political leader) Lobsang Sangay, Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Speaker Penpa Tsering, and Chief Justice Ngawang Phelgyal.

The staff of all three pillars of the CTA were all present at the ceremony, as were the students of the Tibetan schools in McLeod Ganj. The crowd numbered around 1000, and was made up mainly of local Tibetan people.

To begin the ceremony, The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) performed both the Tibetan and Indian National Anthems. During the anthems, Minister of Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal and Kalon Tripa Lobsang Sangay raised both the Indian and Tibetan flags.

Several new books were also released during the ceremony. The first, entitled "The Way of Democracy," contained speeches about democracy that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama had made to the Tibetan people, as well as speeches that the Kashag and the Tibetan Parliament had made on previous Democracy Day events. "The 50th Year of Democracy Day," a book organized by the Tibetan Parliament, contained a compilation of democracy-related articles and paintings from local students. Both books were released by Chief Justice Ngawang Phelgyal.

Kalon Tripa introduced three books; "The Effects of Changing Weather in the Tibetan Plateau" by the CTA's Department of Information and International Relations, "Introduction to Buddhism" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and "The Son of Mount Kaliash," a book about the suffering of the Tibetans under Chinese rule.

Kalon Tripa marked the day with a speech, which he began by praising and thanking His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

"I pay my sincere and heart-felt tribute to our most revered leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose vision of a democratic and secular Tibetan society I am fully committed to realizing."

"Let me begin by acknowledging and celebrating the pivotal role of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is a true democrat and a magnanimous people's leader. He was drawn toward fairness and democratic principles even when growing up as a young child in the Potala Palace. Being from a humble peasant family himself, he befriended the Palace sweepers, gatekeepers, and cooks, and these people became his source of information about ordinary Tibetans and conditions in Tibet."

"Two years after assuming leadership of the country, His Holiness established the Reform Committee in 1952, which had exempted poor farmers and indigenous Tibetans from heavy taxes as one of its objectives. However, the occupying Chinese forces disrupted the work and disbanded the committee."

Kalon Tripa went on to tell about one of his own personal experiences with His Holiness. As a young student, he received an audience with His Holiness before leaving for studies in America. "As I was introduced, His Holiness mentioned an article that I had published in the Tibetan Review entitled ‘Human Rights and Asian Values.' I was struck and honored that he took notice of an article written by a young and ordinary Tibetan."

Kalon Tripa went on to speak about His Holiness' early years in India after fleeing Tibet.

"The story of Tibet's democracy, after the early attempts in 1952, continued in 1959 after His Holiness sought refuge in India following the occupation of Tibet. At a time when anti-colonialism was taking hold and new democracies were being established around the world, the first step towards establishing the Tibetan parliament began at Bodh Gaya, where the Na-gyen Chenmo (great oath) was taken and Tibetan leaders pledged an iron-like unity under one leadership."

"It must have been a traumatic experience for Tibetans; who having lost their nation, homes, and family members; had to witness their 26-year-old leader as a refugee amidst makeshift tents that served as their home," he said.

Kalon Tripa explained the history of the Tibetan Democracy Day. "Tibetans elected (actually selected) their members of parliament and had their first meeting on September 2, 1960, which from that day on came to be commemorated as the Tibetan Democracy Day. As for selecting the regional representatives, Tibetan road workers from Sikkim to Manali met on roadsides and nominated candidates by raising their hands. The elected representatives, carrying tin box full of documents, met under a tree (not far from Tsuklagkhang) on weekends to conduct parliamentary business."

"In 1963, the constitution of Tibet, modeled after India's, was adopted and His Holiness the Dalai Lama insisted that the constitution include a provision that allowed for his own impeachment which went against the wishes of his own people. In 1970, the Tibetan Youth Congress was established by Tibetan youth leaders, and in 1984 the Tibetan Women's Association was re-established in exile. Both organizations have played an important role in producing leaders with emphasis on non-sectarianism, non-regionalism and unity," he said.

Kalon Tripa explained that when the Soviet Union collapsed and the world experienced the "third wave of democracy" in the early nineties, the Tibetan Administration also underwent many democratic reforms. In 1991, the Charter of the Tibetans, which governs the functions of the CTA, was adopted.

"The parliamentary procedures and functional processes akin to Indian parliamentary system became more disciplined, sophisticated and effective over time," Kalon Tripa said.

The first direct election for the position of Kalon Tripa, the head of the CTA, took place in 2001. "Professor Samdhong Rinpoche won the election with more than 80 percent of the votes and provided admirable leadership."

In March 2011, His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced his renunciation of his political power. "He expressed his strong desire to transfer all his political and administrative powers and announced his decision to "devolve his formal authority to the elected leader. His Holiness the Dalai Lama rejected impassioned appeals by both the parliament and the people to stay on even as the nominal head of state," said Kalon Tripa.

"It is important to note that His Holiness the Dalai Lama made significant changes that coincided with major global developments." Kalon Tripa said. "The timing of each one of His Holiness' major steps: the impeachment clause in the 1960s, establishing a leader's position between himself and the Kashag in the 1980s, and the direct election of Kalon Tripa in the 2000s, has been brilliant. The timing of the devolution of political power in particular is masterful as His Holiness' decision has legitimized the outcome of the 2011 Kalon Tripa elections - the largest and most democratic round of elections in Tibetan history."

"The recent elections is a testament to the growing maturity and vibrancy of Tibetan democracy. The historic elections attracted an unprecedented number of Tibetans from 30 countries, particularly the youth. Tibetans from Tibet also showed keen interest and solidarity by going to monasteries to pray for the success of election, following developments closely and bursting fireworks when election results were announced."

"The successful outcome of these elections have given new hope for our compatriots inside Tibet, and sent a strong message to Beijing that the Tibetan movement is gaining new momentum."

"His Holiness' magnanimity and democratic values is again reaffirmed by his remarks at the recent oath-taking ceremony of the Kalon Tripa. His Holiness when transferring a piece of important history and more importantly the political legitimacy of the 369-year-old institution of the Dalai Lama to the leader with democratic mandate stated, ‘When I was young, an elderly regent Takdrag Rinpoche handed over Sikyong (political leadership) to me, and today I am handing over Sikyong to young Lobsang Sangay... in doing this I have fulfilled my long-cherished goal.' The transferring of the 1751 seal of the 7th Dalai Lama to the current Kalon Tripa, a lay Tibetan from a humble background who grew up in a refugee settlement, truly represents continued legitimacy and symbol of Tibetan leadership. "

"My fellow Tibetans, history of Tibetan leadership and its glorious legacy will continue."

"Today our democracy, while nascent, is a successful model of an exile community establishing a strong democratic base and governance system. This is in large part due to the generosity of the Indian government and people, our host. In fact our experience has attracted the interest of other exile and refugee communities and students of democracy."

"The CTA and some of our non-governmental organizations have shared our five decades of experience in implementing democratic principles, processes and mechanisms with others, and we invite everyone to examine and study our experience. Having said that, our democracy is still far from perfect and we must make it even more robust."

"I can say with confidence that our exile democratic administration is far superior to China's colonial rule in Tibet. Tibetans in Tibet live under harsh autocracy while those of us in exile enjoy democracy. While I have the mandate of the Tibetan world, the Party Secretary of "Tibet Autonomous Region" (TAR) is hand picked by Beijing, and has never been a Tibetan. We are part of a democratic family in the world, China is not. The Kalon Tripa is the legitimate representative of the Tibetan people, while China's rule in Tibet is undemocratic and illegitimate. China cannot be a legitimate superpower without accepting the universality of freedom. I call upon the Chinese regime to respect the freedom of both the Tibetan and Chinese people," asserted Kalon Tripa.

"Finally, let me conclude by stating that the devolution of political power is not solely to me, but to all Tibetans. The time has now come for us to demonstrate that we can survive and indeed thrive independently with our new responsibilities. We must actively participate in the democratic process by ensuring that our leaders remain accountable and true to the democratic spirit."

"My election as the Kalon Tripa is a vote of confidence in the newer generation of Tibetans. So, it is expected of the younger generation to work with renewed dedication and conviction. We must live up to the expectations of His Holiness. This is no time for cynicism but optimism. Our focus must be to pursue the sacred cause of supporting the brave men and women inside Tibet who continue to sacrifice their lives for the preservation of Tibetan identity and dignity. With Tibetan spirit as strong as the majestic Mount Jomolangma, we must all work hard towards ensuring the return of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and emulate the honorable service of our elder generation who successfully ensured the 13th Dalai Lama's return to Tibet."

"My dear fellow compatriots inside Tibet! Many of us in exile have never seen Tibet, but Tibet is in our heart and soul. With determination, dedication, and Dharma on our side, we will make sure to achieve our parent's dream to return to our homeland. I want to reiterate my deep conviction that with unity, innovation and self-reliance as our guiding principles we will ensure the restoration of freedom, reunification of Tibetans and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet."

Cheap & Effective Advertising
E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com