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2 september 2011 002Dharamshala: Parliament Speaker Penpa Tsering spoke on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile during today's Tibetan Democracy Day events at the main temple in McLeod Ganj, India.

He began the speech by calling the 51st Democracy Day a "historic occasion" since it was the first Democracy Day since His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved his political powers.

"Looking back into the past five decades, we have been successful in establishing our administration, preserving and promoting our spiritual and cultural heritage, and maintaining unity amongst the Tibetan people. While we cherish these great accomplishments, we should at the same time pay our heartfelt respect and gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for leading us into the path of democracy," he said.

The Speaker said that His Holiness, intrigued by democracy since his youth, set about introducing democratic reform into the Tibetan exile administration and parliament as soon as he fled to India.

The first Parliament members took their oath of office on 2 September 1960, and in 1963, the Draft Constitution of Future Tibet was issued. Further reforms took place in 1991 with the Charter for Tibetans-in-Exile, in 2001 with the direct election by the people of the Kalon Tripa, and in 2011 with the devolution of his political power by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Speaker said that such reforms are "without a shadow of doubt, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's vision to benefit the Tibetan people and their struggle for freedom both the short and long-term."

"We would also like to pay our tribute to the senior staff members and individuals who have tirelessly worked for the just cause of Tibet," he said. "What we have achieved so far is the result of their hard work and commitment. Therefore, we would like to awknowledge and honour their courage and selfless dedication."

He also thanked former Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche for his years of service as both Speaker of the Parliament and, later, as Kalon Tripa. "During these times, he has tried his best to fulfil the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by providing able leadership."

"At a time when the world is involved in great political and economic upheavals, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is fully committed to promoting global peace, non-violence and harmony. All the Tibetan people must join hands to realise His Holiness the Dalai Lama's principles of world peace and harmony. It goes without saying that the further His Holiness the Dalai Lama's great deeds spreads, better it is for the resolution of the Tibetan issue," he said.

Since His Holiness devolved his political authorities to the Kalon Tripa position, the Speaker said that the Kalon Tripa now has a much greater responsibility in finding a solution to the Tibet issue and to promoting Tibetan culture. "All these can be achieved only with the full support and cooperation from the concerned heads and staff members of the exile administration and the general public. Hence everyone must take their due responsibilities," he said.

On the subject of Tibet-China relations, the Speaker said that "Changes are taking place around the world and in China as well. However, Beijing's Tibet policy, instead of improving, continues with clear and systematic aims to annihilate Tibetan people and its fragile environment. Beijing has issued documents like Sixty Years Since Peaceful Liberation of Tibet and various White Papers on Tibet, which are propaganda materials filled with fabricated lies."

"The reality is that that the China continues to increase its colonial rule in Tibet, denying the Tibetans even basic rights. As a result Tibetans have live under constant fear and threat of harassment, arrest and imprisonment."

He cited recent peaceful protests and self-immolation incidents to illustrate his point. "Chinese authorities, instead of addressing these appeals have cracked down on the Tibetan people. This is the real situation in Tibet today under China."

"We would like to pay our tribute the courage and spirit of the Tibetan people inside Tibet and stand in solidarity with them for their determination and audacity under the Chinese rule. We urgently and strongly appeal to the Chinese leaders to change its hard line policy on Tibet, and not to forcefully change the traditional life-styles of Tibetan nomads and farmers and to give complete religious freedom," he said.

"The basic aspiration of the Tibetans people, both in and outside Tibet, is to resolve the issue of Tibet. However, due to circumstance that are beyond our reach, if it takes a long time to regain our freedom, we should be well prepared for such an eventuality. Tibetans living in Tibet, using the rights and provision of enshrined in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and Laws on the Regional Autonomy, must work hard to preserve our unique cultural and spiritual heritage, and to protect Tibet's fragile environment."

"Those of us living in exile, we must put our collective efforts towards creating political and democratic maturity, and at the same abide by the laws of their respective countries or states. We must take active part in various Tibetan associations and communities in preserving and promoting our cultural and spiritual heritage."

He concluded by thanking Tibet support groups worldwide, international governments, and the Indian government and people for their help and support, by praying for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and a hope that "the issue of Tibet be resolved soon."

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