The Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in-Exile, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel is currently on an official visit to Switzerland. In the Democracy Day speech acting in his stead, Deputy Speaker Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok talked about a number of issues ranging from the Tibetan people living under the oppressive rule of China, the resurgence of immolation protests in Tibet and the democratic path in the running of the Tibet's political system.
The statement begins, "Today is a day of unique importance when we mark the completion of 57 years since the establishment of the democratic path in the running of the Tibetan people’s political system. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the most exalted Bodhisattva of the Lotus-Holding Manifestation and the champion of world peace, had, though of a tender young age, assumed the supreme temporal and spiritual leadership of the Snow land of Tibet. And not long after having done so, His Holiness undertook visits to the neighboring countries of China and India. And having been greatly inspired by the democratic system prevailing in India, His Holiness sought to reform the political system of Tibet, so that, it too will conform to the requirements of such a system.
"Immediately after stepping foot on Indian soil, His Holiness the Dalai Lama established a newly central Tibetan administration and, along with it, a Tibetan parliament in exile with its members constituted from Tibet’s different religious traditions and the three historical provinces of Tibet. And so, on the 2nd of September 1960, the first Tibetan Parliament in Exile was inaugurated with its members formally taking their oaths. The event also marked the establishment of the noble path of democracy for the Tibetan people and is rightly recognized as a historic day.
"The Tibetan democracy is particularly a special one, for it has been gifted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama with great ingenuity of method and compassion and has evolved on that fundamental basis. All Tibetan people in general, but especially those living in exile, have been in continuous enjoyment of their democratic rights. In particular, we would like to appeal to all Tibetans to uphold with great importance the duties that are inherent in each of them at one’s individual level by giving primary importance to the greater good of the Tibetan society, acting with solidarity to bring forth the collective strength of the Tibetan people to an ever higher level. This has become more imperative now than ever before.
"Concerning the situation of the Tibetan people living under the oppressive rule of the government of China, there is no question at all of talking about democratic rights. They are totally bereft of even those freedoms that are inalienable to all humans, such as the freedoms of movement, speech and expression, religion, language, protection of one’s culture and so on. Under the Chinese rule, the Tibetan language, the very basis of the Tibetan ethnic identity and culture, is getting decimated with the implementation of what China calls its common language policy for the whole country.
"Because of it, the Tibetan people living under Chinese rule are carrying out enormously praiseworthy deeds with great courage and determination to halt the decline and to preserve the Tibetan language and culture. We offer our admiration to them for their efforts. We, the entirety of the Tibetan people, living in freedom in other countries, whatever our means and circumstance may be, should never engross ourselves in our own immediate personal concerns and interests and instead pay ever greater attention to the learning, use, and promotion of the Tibetan language. This has become a matter of utmost importance, for it is concerned with the fundamental question of whether the Tibetan ethnic identity and culture will survive on this globe or not.
"Since the 27th of February 2009 till date, it has been clearly learnt and confirmed that a total of 149 Tibetan people had self-immolated in protest against the government of China for the cause of the Tibetan nation and people. They or their remains were almost all seized and taken away by the Chinese armed police force or the Chinese army. Those who survived were later tried and given jail sentences.
"To the wider outside world, we appeal to governments, those supporting the issue of Tibet, and independent human rights monitoring groups to seek to meet with survivors, or to find out about their health conditions, and make deliberate efforts to find proper treatment for them outside the People’s Republic of China.
"Freedom House, a human rights organization based in the US capital Washington, DC, has, in its annual survey of political rights and civil liberties for 2016, concluded that among the 18 countries with the poorest record during the year, China was re-designated the second worst violator. Likewise, during the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva too, China was strongly criticized for trampling on the basic human rights of its citizens.
"In the name of its policy of freedom of religious belief, the government of China has set up in each monastic institution in Tibet what it calls a ‘Monastery Management Committee’. And this is the means by which it has made gross interferences in all aspects of the Buddhist cannons of teaching, practice, and contemplation of the religiously immersed Tibetan monks and nuns. And it has set limits on the enrollment number of monks and nuns in the monasteries and nunneries, thereby curtailing the Tibetan people’s religious freedom. It has also reduced all aspects of religious activities of the monks and nuns in those places of religious study and worship to mere showpieces meant to cater to the entertainment needs of the visiting tourists. Thus, all places of religious study and worship, large or small, in Tibet have been transformed by the government of China into a sort of market commodity meant to earn revenue for the government."
Concluding the statement, the Parliament thanked its supporters, saying, "To all the governments, parliaments, organizations, and individuals who have supported the just cause of the Tibetan people and in other aspects, especially to the central and state governments of India and the Indian people, we offer our heartfelt gratitude."