By Tibetan National Congress (September 2, 2014)
Fifty-four years ago today, the first democratically-elected Tibetan representatives took their oath of office in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. At that time, Tibetans in exile hoped that the forced separation from their beloved homeland would be a short one. Over half a century later, we are still in exile, and our brothers and sisters in Tibet still live under foreign occupation. And yet, it is more certain than ever that the tide of freedom cannot be stopped, and freedom will soon come to Tibet.
Moreover, the democracy that we Tibetans celebrate in exile is equally the right of our brothers and sisters in Tibet. Democracy is a universal value that none of us in exile has the right to abandon on behalf of our brethren in Tibet. On this Democracy Day, TNC pledges to work tirelessly until democracy is brought to a free and independent Tibet.
The critical importance of democracy has been spoken about eloquently elsewhere; we believe it is self-evident, so we will not belabor the point. Instead, we would like to make two simple observations, and to announce the release of an important document.
First, democracy depends on the people electing good representatives. On the 40th anniversary of Democracy Day in 2000, the Kashag stated that “it is of utmost importance for all of us to ensure that the people we elect to the [Parliament] are learned, able, dedicated, honest, and unfettered by regional prejudices. Only such people will be able to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the cause of the Tibetan community as a whole.”
Second, democracy is a continual process that requires constant engagement by the people. The people’s role does not cease when they cast their ballot. Democracy requires a constant dialogue and respectful debate among the citizens and their representatives.
In this spirit, TNC pledges to do our utmost to contribute to a strong Tibetan democracy. As part of this pledge, TNC is pleased to announce the release of a document entitled “Tibetan Independence is the Only Path Forward: Fifteen Basic Questions and Answers.” We hope that it will allow the Tibetan people to better evaluate the facts and arguments surrounding the most important issue facing the Tibetan nation. We believe that the Tibetan people will find this document useful as they exercise their democratic rights and obligations.
On this 54th Democracy Day, we pledge to put first and foremost the interests of the whole Tibetan people. We pledge to play a constructive role in Tibetan elections, and in Tibetan governance. And we pledge to ensure that the principal mandate of the Tibetan government-in-exile — the struggle for an independent Tibet — is carried out with unwavering integrity and determination.
Long live His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.