By Tenpa Dhargyal Gashi
Oh, yeah, well, alright
I want to jam it with you
We're jammin', jammin'
And I hope you like jammin' too…
I don’t know about you guys but I think we should be jamming right about now. Crank up the music and let good old Bob belt it out one more time, loud and proud; let it reverberate all across the Dhauladhar range with its powerfully evocative music till every taxi driver in Mcload Ganj and Momo las doing Koras start humming it under their breath: Jamming, oh, Jamming, No bullets can stop us now, we neither beg nor we won’t bow. And they shall all know that jamming is good for the soul.
The reason for this new found excitement is the candidacy of Atsock Lukar Jam, President of Ghu Chu Sum (Ex-political prisoners) in the next Sikyong Election, the first Rangzen candidate to openly vie for the top Tibetan political post in exile and just like that, the race for the 2016 Sikyong election got a lot more interesting. In a truly progressive western campaign style, Lukar Jam announced his candidacy with a well-attended press conference where he outlined the reasons why he was standing for Sikyong and his visions if he was elected Sikyong; complete with a Q/A session with the press. It was an exciting development which promises to deliver a very interesting 2016 Election for all concerned.
Lukar Jam was born and raised in Tibet. Unlike the other candidates, Lukar actually understands first-hand the reality in Tibet, and the reality of a life for a Tibetan under the Chinese government because he lived it. His entering the Sikyong race eviscerates China's criticism that exile Tibetans are out of touch with the ground realities inside Tibet. Lukar Jam is a former political prisoner who has spent more than 5 years out of the total 18 years sentence in a Chinese prison and was only released on medical grounds. He is also an intellectual, a political writer not only fluent in both written and spoken Tibetan and Chinese but also well versed in Tibetan and Chinese politics with an acute understanding of the global political landscape. If you want to understand your counterpart and negotiate accordingly, you need to be able to speak in the same tongue and understand the culture.
And more importantly, this is the first time in exile history that a candidate is running for the highest political office on a Rangzen platform. This is a major development. Finally, Rangzen proponents have a candidate with a clear manifesto to fight unequivocally for the Independence of Tibet and makes no apologies for it. Lukar’s candidacy in exile Tibetan politics provides a huge boost for our fledgling democracy and legitimizes it. The Middle Way stance actually depends on the existence of a viable Rangzen alternative, or else there is nothing to be in the “middle” of. There is no antagonism, since the Middle Way depends on Rangzen for its very definition. This should be celebrated and welcomed by all Tibetans as it provides a real choice in the upcoming election and fulfills His Holiness’ vision of a truly democratic society.
Lukar’s life story itself is a tribute to humanity’s greatest virtues, one of fierce adherence and belief in a moral code that all humans are endowed with certain inalienable rights and the courage to insist upon it at all cost. From this core belief springs his unquenchable love for his country and fuels his desire to set right the great injustice suffered by his people. He went to prison for holding such beliefs and suffered tremendously for it in a Chinese prison in the most appalling conditions but he never abandoned his principle nor compromised on his dream. He is not someone who is seeking leadership for self-aggrandizement or for mere photo-ops with world leaders. His principle is grounded in the hills of his native land, his character was forged in a prison cell, and his life story is a testament to the rugged will and the indomitable spirt of the ruby-cheeked Tsampa eaters to resist oppression to the very end of earth.
For the first time in Tibetan exile’s history, there is a clear choice for the Tibetan people between Middleway and Rangzen. It is no longer the case where Rangzen people were forced to choose between Middleway candidates and leave with a nagging feeling that they did not cast their vote with full conviction. This is the first time where a candidate is unabashedly for Rangzen and does not use the Rangzen platform to propel himself into the limelight nor play with words to garner votes. He actually lives and breathes it and means it with every fibre in his body. The beauty of democracy is that it allows people the privacy to vote for their candidate without interference and provides a true gauge of public sentiment. So, if you are outwardly Middlepathers with Rangzen in your heart or outwardly Rangzenwala with Middleway in your heart, the voting booth will not judge you and will be fair, according to your moral compass.
If you are for Rangzen, you finally have a candidate you can trust. Vote for Rangzen. Vote for Lukar Jam.
Are you ready to Jam yet?