Tibetan Democracy Day

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.

Unfortunately it became impossible for him to carry out his noble wishes because Tibet was invaded by the armed forces of the communist Chinese government. In addition, the ever-worsening situation in Tibet became such that His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself was left with no choice but to escape his homeland in 1959. More than 80,000 Tibetan people followed in his footstep to flee into exile.

Immediately after stepping foot on Indian soil, His Holiness the 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.

In the year 1961, a gist of the constitution for a future free Tibet was published and in 1963 the democratic constitution of Tibet was proclaimed. Later, in the year 1991, the number of members of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile was increased; along with it the parliament was made a true lawmaking body. During that year, the members of the 11th Tibetan Parliament in Exile debated and adopted the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, to which His Holiness the Dalai Lama duly granted his assent. Since becoming a true lawmaking body that year, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile has discussed and adopted some 27 legislative acts as well as rules and regulations and has also been making amendments to them as and when needed to this day.

In the year 2001, as long standing wish and ordered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, calling for the Kalon Tripa to be directly elected by the Tibetan people, the 12th Tibetan Parliament in Exile amended the relevant laws and related rules and regulations at its 11th session. The system of direct election of the Kalon Tripa by the Tibetan people through universal franchise was thus established. In particular, in the year 2011, keeping in view the current and long term interests of the Tibetan people, and after appraising a multiplicity of pros and cons and the reasons underlying them, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in an extraordinary act of broadmindedness, made unequivocally clear his intention to devolve all his historical political and administrative powers to the leaders elected by the Tibetan people themselves. Accordingly, a special session of the 14th Tibetan Parliament in Exile was held and the 25th amendment of the Charter of Tibetans in Exile passed.

And in a follow up to this development, the 15th Tibetan Parliament in Exile discussed and adopted amendments to the relevant acts as well as rules and regulations during its second session. Through developments such as these and on the basis of the relevant legislative acts and rules and regulations adopted by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, the guidance and wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the savior of the Tibetan nation and people and their symbolic representative, were fully implemented. The result of this has been that the leaders elected by the Tibetan people assumed full responsibility in carrying forward all aspects of the functioning of the Central Tibetan Administration in keeping with democratic principles.

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