Ven Karma Gelek Yuthok, acting President of the Tibetan government in-Exile delivering Kashag’s Statement on the 59th Anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day, in Dharamshala, India, on September 2, 2019. Photo: TPI/Yangchen Dolma

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Dharamshala, India — Outraged by continuing human rights violations in Tibet and the atrocities committed against Tibetan people since China's invasion of Tibet, acting President of the Tibetan government in-Exile urges the Tibetans around the world to remain observant and to commit to playing a constructive role in the democratic process.

The 59th Democracy Day was celebrated on Monday at the main Tibetan temple complex in McLeodganj town of Dharamshala, India, on September 2, 2019. Presided over by Smt. Sarveen Chaudhary, a cabinet minister of the Himachal Pradesh state government, the event was attended by thousands of people, including Buddhist nuns and monks attended the function at the main temple in Dharamshala along with a host of other senior functionaries and Tibetan supporters.

In his address on the occasion, Ven Karma Gelek Yuthok, acting President of the Tibetan government in-Exile said "As we celebrate our democracy-in-exile, we should also remember the grim situation today inside Tibet. We have the privilege of living in a democracy with all the rights, but the Tibetans inside Tibet continue to be persecuted, and their human rights continue to be violated since the invasion. As we celebrate our democracy-in-exile, we should also remember the grim situation today inside Tibet. We have the privilege of living in a democracy with all the rights, but the Tibetans inside Tibet continue to be persecuted, and their human rights continue to be violated since the invasion."

"At the beginning of last year, China’s Public Security Bureau in the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) issued a notice declaring activities such as initiatives for environmental protection, language preservation and expressing support for the Middle Way Approach as “illegal,” Ven Karma Gelek Yuthok, who is Minister of Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration said while addressing the gathering.

"On the one hand, the Chinese leaders often say they are open for dialogue while on the other hand, Tibetans supporting the Middle Way Approach, which fosters dialogue, are called “separatist” and persecuted," he continued, saying "the notice also urged the people to spy on each other and to inform about such “illegal activities” carried out by the “underworld forces.” In a notice issued earlier this year, the Public Security Bureau raised the rewards for informers from a 15,600 US dollars to over 40,000."

Celebrating the 59th anniversary of the Tibetan Democracy, on behalf of Kashag and the Tibetan people, Ven Karma Gelek Yuthok also paid deep reverence and gratitude to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the supreme leader of Tibet also the founder of the Tibetan Democracy.

"As we celebrate the democracy bestowed upon us by His Holiness, it is of utmost significance that we take up the responsibilities that come along with the rights. As pioneers of democracy-in-exile, we should responsibly discharge our civic duties and be mindful in exercising our rights including the right to freedom of speech and expression. Therefore, the Kashag urges the Tibetans to remain observant and to commit to playing a constructive role in the democratic process," the Kashag statement said, adding: "As we celebrate our democracy-in-exile, we should also remember the grim situation today inside Tibet. We have the privilege of living in a democracy with all the rights, but the Tibetans inside Tibet continue to be persecuted, and their human rights continue to be violated since the invasion."

"At the beginning of last year, China’s Public Security Bureau in the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) issued a notice declaring activities such as initiatives for environmental protection, language preservation and expressing support for the Middle Way Approach as “illegal.” On the one hand, the Chinese leaders often say they are open for dialogue while on the other hand, Tibetans supporting the Middle Way Approach, which fosters dialogue, are called “separatist” and persecuted. The notice also urged the people to spy on each other and to inform about such “illegal activities” carried out by the “underworld forces.” In a notice issued earlier this year, the Public Security Bureau raised the rewards for informers from a 15,600 US dollars to over 40,000," it stated.

The Kashag said in the statement that "His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been an ardent advocate of democracy and has strived hard to establish a democratic system of governance in Tibet and later in exile. The intrinsic belief and commitment of His Holiness in the democratic ideals were evident from a very young age. Soon after assuming political leadership, His Holiness set up a Reform Committee and brought about many changes in the Tibetan administrative system. The efforts of His Holiness to transform Tibet into a vibrant democracy was thwarted with Tibet’s invasion by the Chinese government, forcing the pioneer of Tibetan democracy into exile."

"Despite tremendous challenges of rehabilitation and preservation of Tibetan culture in exile, His Holiness continued his efforts to democratize the Tibetan system of governance. Soon after arrival in India, His Holiness counseled to set up an elected body leading to the establishment of the Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies, the first elected representative body which took oath on this day back in 1960. In 1961, a synopsis of the draft democratic constitution for future Tibet which was based on the principles of modern democracy and Tibetan values was circulated amongst the Tibetan people for eliciting their views," the statement further reads.

"At the insistence of His Holiness, this draft constitution included impeachment provision of even the Dalai Lama which emulates his farsighted vision and his faith in democracy. Later, in 1963 a comprehensive draft democratic constitution was promulgated which brought several changes to the system of governance including annulment of all hereditary titles and prerogatives and paved way for the appointment of government officials through democratic means," it added.

The official statement said "His Holiness outlined further proposals to give more representation to women, to include representatives from the Tibetan diaspora in Western countries, and to expand the membership of the assembly. In 1991, the Charter of the Tibetans-in-Exile was adopted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and enacted by His Holiness. With the full-fledged Tibetan parliament-in-exile and the Kashag (Cabinet), and the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission set up the following year, the establishment of the three pillars of democracy was completed."

"Since its inception, the Tibetan democracy has evolved under the leadership of His Holiness. In 2001, His Holiness declared his status as semi-retired and called for the first direct election of the Kalon Tripa, the executive head of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). His Holiness’ vision to fully democratize the Tibetan polity was realized in 2011 when His Holiness announced the devolution of all his political power to the democratically elected political leader," the Tibetan cabinet further added.

According to the statement, "His Holiness’ overseeing of the Tibetan polity into a democratic system and leading the Tibetan movement onto a path of non-violence is admired and acknowledged around the globe, including by many scholars from mainland China. It is solely due to the vision and leadership of His Holiness that has enabled the Tibetans to preserve and revive the distinct culture, making the Tibetan community in exile one of the most robust and flourishing exile communities in the world."

The Minister has also reiterated that the Tibetan administration will convene the third three-day "Special General Meeting of Tibetans" in exile from October 3-5, 2019. "As part of the democratic process, the Kashag and the Tibetan parliament-in-Exile will be convening the Third Special General Meeting of Tibetans from 3rd to 5th October. The meeting will discuss and gather public opinion on the “Relationship between the lineage of the Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan people and the Five-Fifty vision.” Considering the significance of the themes of the meeting, the Kashag urges all the Tibetan people for their active participation and share their opinions."

Offering prayers for the good health and long life of His Holiness the great 14th Dalai Lama, the Kashag expressed its gratitude to all the individuals, organizations and governments who have supported the just cause of Tibet. "We also thank the central and state governments of India and most importantly the people of India for all their support towards the promotion of Tibetan democracy-in-exile. We firmly believe that you all will continue to stand with us until the day Tibet issue is peacefully resolved."