DHARAMSALA, Aug 4: A former Tibetan political prisoner and a prominent advocate of Tibetan independence- as opposed to the current official stand of seeking ‘genuine autonomy’ through the middle way approach, proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and supported by the Tibetan Parliament in exile- has thrown his hat into the ring for the election of Sikyong 2016.
Lukar Jam Atsock, President of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement Association of Tibet, a Dharamsala-based organization of former Tibetan political prisoners, made the official announcement on Aug 3, 2015 at a press conference held at Hotel Tibet, Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala.
Several prominent Rangzen (Tibetan independence) advocates, supporters and curious local Tibetans attended the press conference apart from journalists from various Tibetan media centres.
After two supporters of Lukar Jam Atsock as Sikyong 2016 introduced their candidate in both Tibetan and English languages, a short video titled ‘Droena Drosa Mi Dug’ (Eng: No More Running) encapsulating the life of Lukar Jam was screened at the event.
Citing historical facts, Lukar Jam spoke on the glorious history of the Tibetan empire, the rebellious spirit of the Tibetan people, the Tibetan people’s ability to seize opportunity for political changes and the Tibetan resistance against Chinese occupation and repression from early fifties to the recent wave of self-immolations by nearly 150 Tibetans.
“Tibetans have never surrendered to the occupying Chinese. Tibetans are fiercely independent in nature and self sufficient,” Lukar said.
However, lack of long-term vision, he said, has obstructed political reforms.
“We need to change the political status quo and to wake up from this inferior attitude of having lost our nation and having to face existential uncertainty in exile. I don’t believe that change will emerge out of the coffers of a rich merchant. I don’t believe that change will come from the prayer of a hermit meditating in a cave. I don’t believe that change will be ushered-in by anyone just because he or she has a degree from a western university,” he stressed and added, “Political reform can only be achieved when we imbibe the wisdom and fortitude of our forefathers and the spirit of the Great Emperors of Tibet. However, if we forfeit our collective wisdom and espouse the knowledge of others while aping the western culture in all our works, we will never be able to rise up for freedom. Even if we do manage to rise up, we will not be able to build a Tibet that is the true spirit of Tibet or one that is truly suitable for Tibetans.”
Continuing with his talk, Lukar then laid down four agendas pertaining to his Sikyong candidature that included two vision for the future course of the Tibetan movement and two prevailing practices that the Tibetans must resist and do away with-1) Vision for Political and Cultural Renaissance 2) Vision for Non-partisan Governance 3) Resist the Servitude Mindset 4) Resist the Abuse of Faith.
After giving a detailed explanation about the four agendas, Lukar stated
“I am standing for the Sikyong elections not because it is about winning or losing. Rather it is about its significance. I have to enter this election. This is not just an act of protest but because we need concrete reforms and a new vision. Long Live Tibetan Independence! Long Live Tibetan courage! Long Live Tibet!”
To a question from a Tibetan reporter who asked what will be the first message he would send to the Chinese government if he wins the Sikyong election. He replied “Being a Tibetan calling for Rangzen, I think my winning the Sikyong election in itself sends a strong message to the Chinese government. But whether we’ll have the good fortune to send such a message depends upon the spirit of the Tibetan people. I am hoping for their support.”
“Another thing that I would do is I would not travel in the red light laden official car of Sikyong which has come into practice since the incumbent Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay was elected as the political head of the Tibetan people. I will also revive the name of the central Tibetan government in Dharamsala back to Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE) from the current name- Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).”
Later in the afternoon, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Penpa Tsering announced his candidacy for the upcoming Sikyong elections at an exclusive press conference held with three major Tibetan radio services- Voice of Tibet, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.
With Speaker Tsering’s announcement, now there are three candidates for the Sikyong elections-Tashi Wangdue, Lukar Jam Atsock and Penpa Tsering.
The preliminary round of the election for new Sikyong and members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile will be held on Oct 18, 2015 and the final election will be held on March 20, 2016.