DHARAMSALA, SEP 3: Thousands of Tibetans and supporters gathered at the court yard of the main temple in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala on Sep 2 to participate in the official celebrations of the 55th Tibetan Democracy day.
Several Indian dignitaries attended the event, including Chief Guests for the occasion, Ms Maneka Gandhi, the Indian Union cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development and Mr Shanta Kumar, former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh and Union Minister in the central Government of India.
Addressing the gathering, the political head of the Tibetan people, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay his (and his colleagues) deepest respect and gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for pioneering and tirelessly steering a democratic system for the wellbeing of Tibetan people.
“We can take pride in the fact that Tibetan administration in exile is functioning fully in accordance with democratic system. Our existing democratic polity, admired and recognized by many non-Tibetans, is not an outcome of people having fought or sacrificed for it; rather it is a precious gift from His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama. This is undoubtedly one of the legacies of His Holiness to which the Tibetan people should remain eternally grateful,” Sikyong Sangay said.
Sikyong Sangay spoke on Tibetan democracy from the nascent stages in 1960s to His Holiness the Dalai Lama declaring on Aug 8, 2011 the fulfillment of ‘ long cherished goal’ of bringing democracy to the Tibetan people when he devolved all his political authority to the democratically elected leader or Sikyong.
Speaking on importance of taking part in the election process, especially on the upcoming election of Sikyong and members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Sikyong Sangay said ‘due consideration should be given to the existing political situation inside Tibet, conditions in exile and the larger aspirations of the Tibetan people when electing capable leaders’.
He also urged each and every candidate standing for election and their supporters to uphold traditional moral and ethical values while engaging in the election processes.
“Our resolve for democracy should be a clear message of our democratic spirit of free will to international community and China. Our brethrens in Tibet will doubtlessly derive strength from the robust participation and decisive outcome,” he said.
Reaffirming Kashag’s commitment to the Middle Way Approach, Sikyong Sangay expressed hope that the Chinese government will take note of the practicality of MWA and realize that dialogue is the only viable solution for a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet.
“It is hoped that the Chinese government led by Xi Jinping will soon realize that dialogue is the only viable solution for a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet. The Kashag reaffirms its commitment to the Middle Way Approach. Our approach and its practicality of benefitting both the party has generated appreciation and support from around the world. The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs has called for dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and representatives of Chinese government during her visit to Beijing in May 2015. Similarly, Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council has urged China on June 29, 2015 to restart dialogue with envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he said.
He concluded his speech by extending heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the Tibetan people to the supporters of the Tibetan cause and in particular to the people and the government of India.
“In conclusion, we would like to heartfelt gratitude to the international community, especially the Tibet support groups, individuals and organizations for supporting the just and non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people. In particular, we owe profound gratitude to the people and government of India for according highest respect to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and for generously hosting the Tibetan people. No words are adequate enough to express the depth of gratitude Tibetan people have to this great nation,” Sikyong said.
In his address, Speaker Penpa Tsering spoke on how democracy came to the Tibetan people as a gift from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and urged Tibetans living abroad to take full participation in the election to ensure the sustenance of robust Tibetan democracy.
“I would also like to emphasize, taking advantage of the opportunity offered by this occasion, to call on fair number of Tibetans who have moved and who continue to move to other countries – with the result that most of them become scattered in their new host countries – to make the extra efforts to give due importance to these elections and ensure that they manage to take part in them,” Speaker Tsering said.
Special guest of the event Ms Maneka Gandhi, whose family has been associated with the Tibetan people since Tibetans came into exile, appreciated the exiled Tibetans’ ability to preserve their cultural identities and love for their country.
Showering praise on Tibetan democracy, she said: “Today we celebrate the gift of democracy as the Prime minister said was given to you by His Holiness showing how truly enlightened not only he is but the fact that you have accepted and done it so gracefully shows how enlightened you all are.”
Mr Shanta Kumar in his address admired Tibet’s resolution of non-violence as a tool against the Chinese to resolve the Tibet issue and spoke on the timeless association between India and Tibet.
“Tibet and India was, is and will always be together and one,” he said.
Cultural performances were presented during the event and winners of coveted Sikyong scholarship, Gandhen Phodrang scholarships, and winners of the Tibetan entrepreneurship competition were presented with their awards, certificates and cash prizes.