54th Tibetan Democracy Day: a gift, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama bestowed to Tibetans

By Tenzin Menkyi Oct 01, 2014
On September 2, 1960, the first Tibetan people's representative took oath of office at Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, was an initial step towards a future of Tibetans in exile, guided by the principle of democracy envisioned by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. The Dalai Lama's vision of democratic Tibetan society empowers the Tibetans to work towards preservation of their culture, languages, religion and way of life, thus, established a solid foundation upon which the community sustains its identity in exile.   

An initiative of the 14th  Dalai Lama: a democratic constitution for a future free Tibet consisting of 10 chapters and 77 Articles was promulgated on 10 March 1963. In June 28, 1991, His Holiness gave assent to the Charter of Tibetans in Exile passed by the 11th Tibetan Parliament in Exile. He ensured that the system of government of the Tibetans in exile was fully in conformity with the modern democratic one, rooted in a fundamental legal charter.
Over the years, for the first time, Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission and the three autonomous bodies of the Central Tibetan Administration in exile was established. In 2001, the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile was amended as desired by the Dalai Lama, under which the Kalon Tripa is directly elected by the Tibetan people.

In 2011, His Holiness abrogated the historically established Gaden Phodrang headed system of Tibetan government. He thereby established an authoritative and stable Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in exile. The Dalai Lama ensured its continuance for as long as it would be necessary to sustain a leadership directly elected by the people, until the just Tibetan cause prevails.

Thus on September 2, Tibetans all over the world celebrates Tibetan democracy day with much fervent, so did the Tibetans in Ladakh.  At Ladakh, Tibetans observed the joyous day, gathering at the function in newly erected first Sonamling Community Hall, Choglamsar.

The function began around 10am with a minute of silence observed and recitation of a rosary of ‘Mani’; offered to the martyrs who lost their lives for Tibetan cause. Tibetan National Anthem and Tibetan Democracy Song were sung by hall full of Tibetans settled at Ladakh.

The function was chaired by Dhondup Tashi, Chief Representative Officer of Sonamling Settlement. The guests for the occasion were: Dhondup Tsering, President of Local Tibetan Assembly or local legislative; Tsetan Wangchuk, President of Tibetan Freedom Movement, Ladakh; Lobsang Khenrab, head of local judiciary; Group leaders of Leh and Changthang region, local head of  different religious traditions of Tibet; local heads of three provinces of Tibet and its member; Head of Ngari Association; members of Tibetan Corporative Society, member of local Health department; members of Tibetan Medical and Astro Institutes; Kalsang Phuntsok, Director of Tibetan Children Village, Ladakh; Lhundup Namgyal, Principle TCV and staffs.

Dhondup Tsering, President of Local Tibetan Assembly, read out the statement made by the Speaker of Tibetan Parliament in Exile on 54th Democracy Day. The speech briefed how the precious gift of democracy was bestowed to Tibetan by the 14th Dalai Lama. He read: 'The gift of democracy given to us by His Holiness the Dalai Lama has provided us with a voice and the power to influence our own future. We must ensure our compatriots in Tibet enjoy the similar rights to live in freedom and with dignity. In this struggle, we will never lose hope and will continue our non-violent struggle till His Holiness the Dalai Lama can be once again reunited with our brothers and sisters in Tibet'.

'Earlier in 1952, the Dalai Lama set up a Reform Bureau; to embark on the path of democracy by transforming the historical political power system of Tibet. He also set up a separate judicial branch in Lhasa for the settlement of civil disputes. With such measures, the Dalai Lama, with great earnestness and positive frame of mind, devoted himself to reforming the traditional, outdated political system of Tibet. As a result of indebtedness owed solely to him for such profoundly admirable series of reform measures, the people of Tibet were set on a firm course towards a bright and happy future.' reads the statement of Tibetan Parliament in exile for the occasion.

In his speech, Tsetan Wangchuk, President of Tibetan Freedom Movement, Ladakh emphasized on equality, responsibilities and duties of a Tibetan and raising voice against the Human Right abuse by China. He also spoke about the importance of passing on valuable knowledge from older to young generations.

The day held the first official assembly of Sonamling people in newly erected Sonamling Community Hall. Twenty min film on how the building of first community hall came to fruition   was screened for the knowledge of general public, which is also to be submitted to CTA.

Dhondup Tashi, Chief Representative Officer of Sonamling Settlement read out the statement of Kashag for the occasion which briefed about the importance of the day and read: 'This historic change is second in importance in its transformation of Tibet. The first having taken place more than 1,000 years ago when Buddhism was introduced to Tibet from India. Buddhism became rooted in Tibet from the 7th to the 11th century thus deeply influencing Tibetan worldview and the social order of the time. Monasteries established during that period made Tibet a centre of learning for Asia and beyond, as well as a wellspring for Tibetan Buddhist civilization.'

He also reminded the people of Sonamling, of their duties, responsibilities and reiterated students of bringing improvement in their annual results.
Kalsang Phuntsok, Director TCV Ladakh, presented a thank-you speech for all the guests and public presented on the occasion.