- Every year on September 2, Tibetans commemorate the day that a democratic government was established. Tibet Democracy Day is an annual holiday celebrated and observed by exiled Tibetans all around the world. On this day in 1960, the Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration was officially established.On 3rd February 1960, barely ten months after arriving in exile, the representatives of Tibetans in exile gathered for the first time in India’s sacred land of Bodhgaya and took a great oath pledging utmost dedication and sacrifice to forge unity and cooperation under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness said, “Unlike the past system in Tibet, it is extremely important to establish a democratic form of governance based on a harmonious blend of spiritual and political values”. Hence, a popularly elected body of people’s representatives is needed. Accordingly, elections were duly held and 13 representatives were elected, and thus began the first Commission of the Tibetan People’s Deputies. They took oath on 2 September 1960. In 1975, the Kashag declared to commemorate September 2 as the founding day of Tibetan democracy.This year, Tibetans will commemorate “Tibet Democracy Day” for the 63rd time this year. Tibetans honor the sacrifices made by Tibetans for their nation on this day, under the leadership of the 14th Dalai Lama. This day also commemorates the heinous disregard shown by the purported protectors of human rights to the cruel Chinese repression. The goal is to bring a lost culture that is now held captive by communist China to the attention of a deaf world.Tibet was a de facto independent state ruled by the Dalai Lama from the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912 to the incorporation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China in 1951. In October 1950, the People’s Liberation Army entered Tibet. In 1951, representatives of the Dalai Lama exceeded their authority and signed an agreement with Beijing, authorizing the rule of the Central People’s Government in Tibet.The Dalai Lama fled to India after the suppression of the 1959 Tibetan uprising and set up the Tibetan Government in Exile in the city of Dharamsala. The democratization of the Tibetan government was the Dalai Lama’s own initiative. He decided to create an elective legislative organ that would comprise representatives of the traditional provinces of Tibet and the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration began functioning on September 2, 1960. The anniversary of this event is celebrated by the Tibetan diaspora as Tibetan Democracy Day. As of 2017, the Tibetan Parliament in exile consists of 45 members: 10 members each from the three traditional provinces of Tibet; 2 members each from the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon religion; 2 members from Europe, 1 from North America, 1 from Canada and 1 from Australasia.
About Tibetan Democracy Day
- It is widely known within the community as Mangsto Duchen (‘Mangsto’: democracy; ‘Duchen’: occasion).
- • It represents the beginning of the exiled Tibetan democratic system.
- At the heart of the Tibetan democratic system, which governs over 1 lakh refugees across the world, stands the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) which is the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala.
- India’s official policy towards the CTA
- India considers the Dalai Lama an admired religious leader and an honoured guest, but it does not encourage political activities by Tibetans.
- India follows the “One China” policy, it does not feel the need to reiterate it frequently.
Significant steps and development toward the establishment of Tibet’s democratic system
- On September 2, 1960, a year after thousands of Tibetans had been forced to flee their home, the first elected representatives of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile took their oaths in Bodh Gaya to inaugurate the Tibetan democratic system.
- In 1963, the Dalai Lama enacted the Tibetan constitution based on the ideals of democracy and universal values, following which the first women representatives were elected.
- In 1975, Kashag, the apex body of CTA, declared September 2 as the founding day of Tibetan democracy
- In 1991, the Charter of the Tibetans in exile was adopted, and in the following year, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission was established, introducing the exile community to the three pillars of democracy.
- A major shift in the political and cultural landscape of the Tibetan people was marked when the Dalai Lama announced that he would assume a position of semi-retirement.
BACKGROUND OF TIBETAN DEMOCRACY DAY
This day is referred to as Mangsto Duchen among the Tibetan population (Mangsto is Tibetan for democracy and Duchen is Tibetan for the occasion). This day has special significance since 1959, the year China invaded Tibet. Under the guidance of the 14th Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetans initiated a comprehensive democratic process. In this process, an elected body was formulated, comprising 13 elected representatives known as ‘Deputies’. These members represented three exiled representatives each from the three provinces and one each from the four religious schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
On September 2, 1960, these first representatives of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile took their oaths in Bodh Gaya. This served as the official start of the Tibetan democratic system. In 1963, the Dalai Lama enacted the Tibetan constitution based on the ideals of democracy and universal values. Finally, the Central Tibetan Administration’s highest authority, Kashag, proclaimed September 2 as the day Tibetan democracy was established in 1975.