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Members of US Congress congratulate Lobsang Sangay on occasion of his inauguration as democratically elected leader

August 14, 2011

Senator Joseph Lieberman

I am pleased to extend my deepest congratulations to Dr. Lobsang Sangay on the occasion of his inauguration as the democratically-elected Kalon Tripa. The United States has a natural bond with and affinity for fellow democracies, and so the progress of Tibetan democracy - of which today marks an important milestone - brings our two peoples closer together. Guided by the Kalon Tripa’s political leadership and the spiritual wisdom and leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I am confident that the Central Tibetan Administration will continue to thrive in the years ahead. I offer warm wishes to the people of Tibet - both those living in Tibet and those in exile - as you celebrate this historic event.

 

Senator Barbara Boxer

I would like to extend my congratulations to Dr. Lobsang Sangay on the historic occasion of his inauguration as the democratically elected prime minster, or Kalon Tripa, of Tibet's government-in-exile.

In March 2011, nearly 50,000 Tibetans around the world cast their votes in a groundbreaking election for the next Kalon Tripa. This election took place in the wake of the Dalai Lama's announcement that he would be devolving his authority as Tibet's political leader to the Tibetan exile government that the Dalai Lama had worked toward for decades. In April 2011, Dr. Lobsang Sangay was declared the winner of this election - garnering 55 percent of the votes and defeating two other candidates.

Dr. Sangay's achievement is the culmination of many years of tireless work on behalf of the Tibetan people, including bringing together Chinese and Tibetan scholars in an effort to foster dialogue and greater understanding.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sangay when he testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing I chaired in April 2008 on Tibet, and I was struck by his passion and commitment to bringing peace and stability to the Tibetan people.

As the new Kalon Tripa, Dr. Sangay will take over the political leadership of a Tibetan community that is preserving an ancient culture while embracing democracy. I look forward to working with him in his new role.

Dr. Sangay's inauguration marks an important step for all Tibetan people, including those living in Tibet where their basic rights and freedoms have for too long been curtailed.

I send my warmest congratulations to Dr. Sangay on his inauguration as the next Kalon Tripa and join with Tibetans living around the world to celebrate this monumental occasion.

 

Congressman James McGovern

Speech in the House of Representatives - August 1, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on August 8, 2011, in Dharamsala, India, the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, Tibetans from around the world will gather for a historic occasion, the inauguration of their democratically elected Prime Minister (Kalon Tripa).

On March 20, 2011, tens of thousands of Tibetans living in countries around the world went to the polling booths to elect their next prime minister and parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration. Thousands of Tibetan-Americans across the United States also participated in these historic elections, including from my home state of Massachusetts.

In April, Dr. Lobsang Sangay was declared the winner. He has Bay State roots. Raised as a stateless Tibetan refugee in India, his parents saved to get him an education. Through the U.S.-funded Tibetan Scholarship Program, he entered studies at Harvard University. He got a law degree there and stayed on as a research fellow for many years.

The 43-year-old Lobsang Sangay takes over as chief executive of the Central Tibet Administration at a critical point, as much of the political responsibilities for the Tibetan community in exile now reside on his shoulders. In March 2011, the Dalai Lama announced his decision to devolve his political authority to the elected leadership. These changes were ratified by the Tibetan parliament in May.

At a time when autocrats around the world are clinging to power, the Dalai Lama's voluntary effort to give up power is remarkable. It is the culmination of a decades-long process of nurturing the development of democratic institutions in the Tibetan exile community. This stands in stark contrast to the reality that neither Tibetans in Tibet, nor anyone in China, are allowed fundamental democratic freedoms or free elections. What the Tibetans have accomplished is worthy of our attention and respect.

I had the chance to meet Lobsang Sangay when he came to Capitol Hill in July 2011, during the Dalai Lama's visit to Washington. I look forward to his return to discuss ways the United States can help Tibetans in their endeavor to find a solution for the Tibet issue.

On the occasion of the inauguration of the next Kalon Tripa, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, I send my warm wishes to the Tibetan people and congratulate them on their democratic achievements.

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