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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Educate about Tibet, strengthen democracy: Dalai Lama to legislators

March 19, 2009

Phayul
March 18, 2009

Dharamsala, March 18 - The Tibetan spiritual
leader Dalai Lama today expressed need for the
Tibetan parliamentarians to garner support to the
Tibetan cause by educating the international community about Tibet.

In a statement to the seventh session of the
fourteenth Tibetan parliament in exile, dated
March 17, 2009, the 73 year old Tibetan leader
said it is important for the members of the
Tibetan parliament to “work harder than ever to
disseminate information in (these) countries and
also initiate relevant constructive programmes so
as to obtain their effective support.”

Acknowledging the recent support to Tibet
displayed in the European Parliament and the
United States congress, he said the resolutions
passed in these two houses of representatives
have clearly demonstrated their solidarity with the Tibetans.

"Not only has this gesture served as the source
of inner strength for all the Tibetan people
inside and outside Tibet, but it has also helped
the cause of Tibet considerably”, the Tibetan
leader who fled his homeland 50 years ago on yesterday’s date said.

Calling the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile the most
important institution of Tibetan democracy in
exile, he said it should do its best to establish
contacts with the union and state parliaments of
the countries who cherish justice.

He also urged the Tibetan legislators to have
frank discussions in order to enhance the
progress of Tibetan democracy and for the
effective functioning of legislative process.

Democracy in exile

This year marks 49 years since the exiled Tibetan
leader declared democracy for Tibetans in 1960
and promulgated a constitution for a future
Tibet, based on the principles of modern democracy.

To support his declaration of democracy, the
Dalai Lama established a Tibetan
Government-in-exile, with a parliament directly
elected by the people, although he initially had
had the sole constitutional power to appoint
cabinet ministers and department heads.

As part of democratic reforms, the Dalai Lama, in
1991, announced the "Charter for Tibetans in
exile”, whereby, amongst other things, the
Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, (now
changed to Tibetan Parliament) was expanded and
was empowered to appoint the Cabinet (Tib: Kashag).

As part of further democratization, in 2000, the
Tibetan supreme leader instituted another reform,
requiring exile Tibetans to directly elect their
Prime Minister with full administrative power. In
2001, for the very first time, Tibetans from 27
countries voted on a single day, with more than
80 percent electing Professor Samdhong Rinpoche as the first Kalon Tripa.

Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche is currently running his
second consecutive term after being re-elected in
2006, securing a landslide majority of over 90 percent of the total votes cast.

Since the introduction of democracy, Tibetan
community in exile experienced a constantly
evolving vibrant democratic system, founded on
“harmonious blend of spiritual and political
values” as they call it. Much of the credit for
this is attributed to the Dalai Lama by the Tibetans.
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