Statement of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile on the occasion of 57th Tibetan Democracy Day

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. 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 oliness 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. 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. Among them were Kirti Monastery’s monks Lobsang Gyatso, Lobsang Kelsang, and Lobsang Konchog. Recent reports suggest that these three monks had been released from prison. However, apart from a mere mention of the fact that Lobsang Konchog’s right leg had been amputated, there is neither clear information about the torture and beating suffered by them during their imprisonment nor about the physical conditions of these monks after their release. In view of this situation, we feel it necessary to let the government of China know that it should bear full responsibility for the physical well being of all the surviving Tibetan self-immolators. 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 those 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.

Likewise, in the year 2007, Adrug Lopo, a nephew of former Tibetan political prisoner Runggye Adag, was released at 11 pm on 21st of August 2017 on completion of his 10-year jail sentence. However, it has still been not possible to find out about the health condition of this former religious Chant Master of Lithang Gonchen. Besides, the government of China continues to subject political prisoners in Tibet to untold torture and beating as well as criminal trial and imprisonment and other forms of persecution in gross violation of all the canons of the international law.

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. More recently, Mr. Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace laureate and well known Chinese democracy activist, succumbed to serious ailments after years of ill-treatment in prison, which made it amply clear that China remains among countries in this world with the worst human rights record.

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. In this connection, while releasing the US State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, Secretary of State Mr. Rex Tillerson made it clear in his introductory remarks that China was among the countries in this world with the worst record of respect for religious freedom of its citizens. He was also emphatic in pointing out that while denying religious freedom in Tibet and other regions, China has also been persecuting the people in those regions through launching of all sorts of campaign actions.

Ever since the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the incessant campaigns introduced in Tibet, that grossly violates human rights and trample on the human decorum, such as Cultural Revolution, has propelled the continual existence of Tibetan religion, culture and people into ‘uncertainty.’ Recent campaign of ‘Education activities with special focus on implementing the Four Stresses and Four Loves” has subjected the minds and conducts of the Tibetan nomads, farmers, youths, students, monks and nuns to an involuntary conditioning and conformation to the communist Chinese ideologies of ‘protection of the unity of Motherland’. Such propagandist campaigns in Tibet condemn the Tibetans in perpetual darkness, devoid of freedom of thought, movement and religion.

Including the mineral exploitations and clearing of whole forestlands, the government of China remains in continuous plunder and destruction of Tibet’s natural environment beyond all limits. Ongoing destructive projects especially the copper mining activity at Diney in the Amnye Machen mountain range, the destruction of the gateway to the Hortsang Nyagong Dragkar Khando Phodrang, the mining and carting away of coal, the setting up of an aluminum plant and other projects near the Qinghai Lake, all of which severely damage the local natural environment while also bringing untold hardship on the livelihood of the local population. In the name of bringing economic development to Tibet, China has launched in Tibet a campaign called “striving to make people rich and the region prosperous” and uses that as a pretext to explore the territory for mineral resources wherever they could be found. Chinese entrepreneurs have been making huge investments to set up projects and businesses. As a result, the local Tibetan people are denied of all the opportunities to develop their own ethnic territory. All the opportunities to explore and extract Tibet’s natural resources and minerals, to undertake construction projects, to carry out road building works and so on are wrested from local Tibetans by Chinese entrepreneurs who come from regions outside of Tibet. In Sog County of Nagchu Prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region this year, the Chinese government coerced the local Tibetan people to celebrate August 1, the Army Day of the People’s Republic of China, with the additional demand that during the celebrations marking the occasion, the participants must wear costumes made from furs of endangered wild animals. In particular, in an unprecedented move, China has embarked on projects to build railway tracks in parts of Tibetan border areas, irrespective of any question whether concerned neighboring countries were agreeable to them or not, while also making large scale deployment of its troops in those areas. What all this clearly shows is that, like in the case of Tibet, which it annexed through armed invasion, the communist government of China still continues to foster an ulterior motive of annexing territories of more neighboring countries.

During celebrations on the 1st of August this year, marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army of the Communist Party of China, President Xi Jinping said in his speech that during times of emergency, the role of the Army is to protect the authority of the government. In this connection he stressed, among other things, that when supporters of democracy in the country staged protests on the Tiananmen Square in 1989, the People’s Liberation Army crushed them with violence and great bloodshed to drive home this point. What all these indicate with emphatic rising certainty is that the government of China is moving towards strengthening the sustainability of the communist party policy and the intensity of repression in the country with this end in view.

The Congress of the United States of America and, likewise, representatives from the European Union have expressed strong concern over issues such as the absence of basic human rights for Tibetans in Tibet and urged the government of China to make efforts to resume talks with representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Recently, a delegation led by the Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile visited the Indian parliament in New Delhi. The delegation met with a number of Indian parliamentarians and appealed them to seek support for the issue of Tibet. And members of the Indian parliament have promised to raise parliamentary support for the issue of Tibet as well as seek support from the different political parties. Nevertheless, in short, it is ultimately us, the Tibetan people, who has to bear the main responsibility to carry forward the struggle for our just cause. Thus, it is of great importance that we preserve our ethnic virtues, making sure to carry them forward without any sort of degeneration.

This year has seen a major earthquake in the Zitsa Degu region of Ngaba in Tibet while floods have hit Indian states such as Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, as well as Nepal and other places. These catastrophes of nature have resulted in great losses in terms of deaths and injuries. The Tibetan Parliament in Exile is greatly saddened by such tragedies and we pray that such catastrophes may never occur again. We take the opportunity offered by this occasion to express our solidarity to the concerned families.

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.

Finally, we pray that His Holiness the Dalai Lama may live for hundred aeon and may all his wishes be fulfilled with spontaneity. May the just cause of the Tibetan people resolve in all speediness!

By Tibetan Parliament in Exile

2 September 2017

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* In case of any discrepancy between this text and its Tibetan original, the latter should be taken as authoritative.