The Statement of the Kashag on the 49th Anniversary of the Tibetan Democracy Day

Today marks the forty-ninth anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s outstanding efforts to transform the nature of Tibetan polity into a genuine democracy. On this auspicious occasion, the Kashag — as a way of expressing its immense gratitude to His Holiness for his gift of democracy to us Tibetans — makes obeisance to him. The Kashag also extends its affectionate greetings to the Tibetans inside and outside Tibet; to the governments, parliaments, peoples and the Tibet support groups who are supportive of Tibet and the Tibetans; as well as to all the peace-loving people cross the globe. During the past 49 years, a great change — political, economic and social — has taken place across the world, including in Tibet and China. Tibetan democracy has also kept pace with this global trend for change and progressed over the years. The highest organ of Tibetan democracy, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE), has been elected 14 times and the political leadership or the Kalon Tripa twice by the general Tibetan populace thus far. Hence, going by the conditions as set forth in the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, our democracy has today become complete both
institutionally and system wise. Moreover, the fact that the Tibetan people at the grassroots level are now able to effectively participate in all processes of democracy, including the periodical elections, has become something that the peoples and communities across the world covet. Particularly, during the preliminary opinion poll that was conducted in 1996 as well as during the last year’s special meeting convened under Article 59 of the charter, Tibetans at the grassroots level freely exercised their individual freedoms to correctly determine— without being swayed by hearsay — the short- and long-term aspirations of the Tibetan people as a whole. This — being a clear indication of the maturity of democratic culture among the Tibetan people — has not only gone a long way in fulfilling the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama but it also serves as a source of great encouragement for those of us in the leadership. The Kashag would like to, therefore, express its sincere appreciation to all of the Tibetan people for this. In order for us to attain greater heights towards true democracy, these conditions are indispensable: education of the people; intellectual freedom; awareness of and understanding/tolerance among the various viewpoints, positions and ideologies; wisdom to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong by eschewing narrow parochialism, etc. Not only is it important that these conditions be improved further but it is also all the more important indeed to be able to choose institution over individuals and duties over rights by judiciously applying the Buddhist concept of the Four Reliances. In today’s time, the rate at which the political, economical and societal changes taking place globally as well as in Tibet and China, it is difficult to predict the future about anything. Therefore, all the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet must tread cautiously so that we do not make mistakes and lose opportunities. Last year, the Tibetan people inside Tibet,
even at the great risk to their lives and properties, took out a peaceful protest and as a consequence, a large number of Tibetan people had to undergo extreme torture and loss of property. No doubt their sacrifices will not go in vain and will contribute greatly to the realisation of the cause of Tibet. The Kashag would like to appeal to
all the Tibetans that it is important for us now to see to it that we do not put the lives of common people in danger and also make every possible effort not to create any differences and animosity between the Chinese and Tibetan nationals. Under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people in exile everywhere are not only trying to improve understanding with the Chinese people but we also express sympathy and support to people affected by natural calamities wherever it may be. This is in accordance with the tenets of the Buddha’s teaching as well as the very nature of the Tibetan people. Last year, when earthquake hit China’s Sichuan province, the Tibetan people in exile did everything they could in terms of offering prayers and contributing to the relief efforts. Moreover, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his strong desire to visit the affected areas to console and offer prayers but he could not visit due to the political situation. Recently, when a typhoon hit Taiwan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama immediately sent condolence message and offered prayers for the victims and their families. Following the request made by the people of Taiwan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is now there, visiting the affected areas and providing spiritual comfort to the people living in these areas. The spiritual service he is conducting in Taiwan is not only aimed at the wellbeing of all sentient beings but also at the improvement of relations between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples.A time has, now, come for the third generation young Tibetans in exile, who are equipped with both traditional and modern education, to be able to take up political responsibilities. The Kashag believes that they will be more responsible than ever before in the political and administrative affairs of our society. Finally, the Kashag prays for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the spontaneous fulfilment of all his wishes. May the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet be reunited to enjoy the fruits of democratic freedom!

The Kashag

2 September 2009

N.B. This is the English translation of the Tibetan original. If there are any discrepancies, please consider the Tibetan final and authoritative.

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