Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tibetan Democracy Day

The exile Tibetan government today said the younger generation Tibetans must take up political responsibilities. “The Kashag believes that they will be more responsible than ever before in political and administrative affairs of our society,” said Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa of the exile Tibetan government.

Rinpoche was speaking at the 49th anniversary celebrations of the Tibetan democracy here. The former academician who is serving his second term as the prime minister of the exile Tibetan government echoed His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s wishes for harmony between Tibetan and Chinese peoples. He said that efforts should be made to build friendship with Chinese people and not create differences and animosity. For full statement click here

The Kalon Tripa also said education, intellectual freedom, healthy exchange of differing ideologies are indispensable components of a true democracy. He expressed “immense gratitude” and paid “obeisance” to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his extraordinary efforts to transform the Tibetan polity into a genuine democracy.

Also present at the official function at Tsuglakhang courtyard was a French Senate delegation led by Sen. Jean Francois Humbert, Tibetan chief justice commissioner and justice commisioners, the speaker of the Tibetan parliament and members of the parliament, government officials, heads of NGOs, schools, monasteries etc.

The Speaker of the Tibetan parliament, Penpa Tsering, said in his address to the gathering that the Tibetans in exile must ensure more participation in elections. Expressing his disappointment over low turnout of voters in previous assembly elections he said every Tibetan eligible to vote must used the voting right for a more vibrant democracy. He advised everyone to be responsible citizens of the exile Tibetan government and help enhance democracy. The Tibetan exiles will go for Kalon Tripa polls in 2011.

September 2 is a special day and an official holiday for Tibetans around the world as they celebrate their democracy day.

This year completes 49 years since the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama declared democracy for Tibetans in 1960 and promulgated a constitution for a future Tibet, based on the principles of modern democracy.

To support his declaration of democracy, the Dalai Lama established a Tibetan Government-in-exile, with a parliament directly elected by the people. As part of democratic reforms, the Dalai Lama, in 1991, announced the “Charter for Tibetans in exile”, which, amongst other things, expanded the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, (now called Tibetan Parliament in exile) and were empowered to appoint the Cabinet (Tib: Kashag).

Speaking in 1991, after announcing this landmark decision, the Dalai Lama said: “Change is coming to the Tibetan political system. It is unfortunate that it happens in exile, but this does not stop us learning the art of democracy….This democratization has reached out to Tibetans all over the world…. I believe that future generations of Tibetans will consider these changes among the most important achievements of our experience in exile.”

As part of further democratization, in 2000, the Tibetan leader instituted another reform, requiring exile Tibetans to directly elect their Prime Minister with full administrative power. In 2001, for the very first time, Tibetans from 27 countries voted on a single day, with more than 80 percent electing Professor Samdhong Rinpoche as the first Kalon Tripa elected directly by the people.

To mark the day, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy will be holding a lecture by Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche on “Tibetan Democracy” later in the day.


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