Tsering Passang is passionate about Tibet and the Tibetan issue. He was born in a Tibetan refugee camp in western Nepal.
An NGO professional with nearly 20 years of experience in international development charities, Tsering has led Tibetan Community UK from 2014 to 2016 as its Chairman. Amongst his pioneering initiatives as the Community Leader, Tsering spearheaded "Tibetans Helping Tibetans" initiative and within months, it resulted in securing the sponsorship of 30 Tibetan refugee children for their education in India from 25 UK-based Tibetan families.
Prior to his current appointment as the Director of Tibet Foundation, Tsering served as Special Adviser to the Tibet Society, the world's oldest Tibet support group. He also worked for Tibet Relief Fund for over eight years, raising vital funds for Tibetan children’s education in India and Nepal. From 2001 to 2007, he worked for Tibet Foundation as Art & Culture Programme Manager.
Tsering has conducted multiple field trips to India and Nepal over the past two decades. After returning from his 2008 personal trip to Mustang, Tsering saw a need to provide training to those Tibetan teachers working in rural areas. Within a year, with the support of western teaching professionals, Tsering initiated the vital training programme for the teachers. Over 50 Tibetan refugees and ethnic Tibetan teachers from Mustang, Manang, Dhorpatan, Pokhara and Kathmandu attended the trainings delivered in Mustang, Kathmandu and Pokhara. He developed partnerships with the local NGOs and schools in Nepal.
From 2014 to 2016, Tsering served on the boards of Tibet Society and Tibet House Trust. He also served as the Chairman and a Trustee of the Tibetan Refugee Charitable Trust.
Tsering continues his advocacy work on Tibet. He has attended and engaged with parliamentarians, special advisers and officials from the UK, UN, the US and EU. Tsering has also spoken at important public and closed forums – audience included governments representatives, policymakers, rights advocates, lawyers, journalists, NGO professionals, university students and researchers. In addition to his writings on the Tibetan affairs, published in the British, Nepalese and Tibetan media, Tsering was interviewed by the BBC, Sky News and Reuters. He is also frequently interviewed by the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Voice of Tibet.
Tsering has conducted special interviews with leading Tibetan political figures - President of the Tibetan Government-in-exile (Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamsala) and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's former Special Envoy (Washington-based) and former Representative (London-based) for a Tibetan YouTube channel – LondonNey Production.
Tsering’s personal blog: www.tsamtruk.com
Tsering's latest initiative is the creation of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) - an advocacy group with the object of highlighting the issues affecting the Tibetans, Uyghur Muslims as well as other peoples persecuted by the Chinese regime.
To coincide with the commemoration of the 62nd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, on 10th March 2021, a group of eight Tibetans took part in the #WalkAMileForTibet in support of the Repeal “One-China Policy” campaign.
This campaign was initiated by Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan Youth Leader and Writer based in India. After launching an e-Petition to draw the attention of Indian PM Narendra Modi, Tsundue started his month-long campaign on Losar – Tibetan New Year – 12th February, from Dharamsala to Delhi, covering 500 kilometres distance on foot.
The “One-China Policy” is a diktat laid down by the Chinese Government (Communist Party of China – CCP) which denies any area currently under Chinese control the right ever to differentiate itself from China. Thus Tibet, Southern Mongolia, East Turkistan [Xinjiang], Manchuria and Hong Kong must – according to this diktat – accept that they are forever an integral part of China and can never break free of communist control. Taiwan – a democracy – is included in this diktat.
In his letter to the London-based Indian High Commissioner, ahead of the Tibetan commemoration anniversary, Tsering Passang, founder and convener of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM), wrote, “On 10th March, Tibetans in diasporas commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day. Exactly 62 years ago, on 10th March 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up against the invading Chinese forces in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. A week later, the Tibetan Leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Lhasa and sought political asylum in India. Some 80,000 Tibetans joined the Dalai Lama.”
Whilst acknowledging India’s huge support to the Tibetan refugees and their freedom struggle, the Tibetan activist urged the Government of India to repeal the “One-China Policy” and work with “like-minded countries to challenge the Chinese regime”.
After passing through Greenwich Park, Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral in the city, the peace marchers made a stopover outside the Indian High Commission. Passang stated that their stopover at the Indian High Commission was not a protest to India.
The group then headed towards the Chinese Embassy via the Whitehall, the heart of the British Government. When the group reached the White Hall, the police stopped them stating they were “caught on cameras”. England is currently under national lockdown due to Coronavirus pandemic. After the group’s explanation, the police advised them to go home to avoid fines, instead of heading to their destination – the Chinese Embassy. So, the group could not continue their walk to the Chinese Embassy. They had to cut short their commemoration event this year.
However, several Tibetan groups successfully staged protests outside the Chinese Embassy in London to observe the 62nd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day. The Tibetan Community in Britain and Tibet support groups held virtual commemoration events to mark this poignant anniversary in Tibetan history.
The 14-mile peace march kicked off from Woolwich Town Hall, the headquarters of Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG), after the Tibetan National Flag was hoisted at the Town Hall again this year, to mark the 62nd Anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising. The simple ceremony was attended by Cllr. Linda Bird, The Mayor, Cllr. Danny Thorpe, The Leader of RBG and Representative Sonam Frasi from The Office of Tibet. Local residents and the Tibetan marchers witnessed the ceremony from a distance whilst observing the social distancing rules.
Cllr. David Gardner, former Deputy Leader of RBG, who helped to organise the flag hoisting ceremony, said, “The Tibetan community in exile has had a long association with our Royal Borough of Greenwich, and in my Woolwich Common ward in particular. I was delighted to help hoist the flag last year on Tibetan Uprising Day and that it can go ahead in a more limited form in a Covid-19 safe manner in 2021, now 62 years since the Tibetan rebellion and altogether seven decades of oppression, victimisation and total subjugation to the Chines Communist Party since their occupation in 1950.
“Now the Uighur community are also suffering as are democrats in Hong Kong as free speech, freedom of expression and universal human rights are trampled on across China. But this day is about Tibetans who are a peaceful people seeking merely the universal rights we all take for granted in Europe and to be able to freely visit their families back in Tibet without reprisals. I wish the Tibetan community a successful and safe commemoration of this important anniversary.”
Women play important roles in our society. The Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) was delighted to host a discussion with Tenzin Sangmo on the Tibetan Women’s role in their National Freedom Struggle on the eve of the 62nd anniversary, 12 March 2021, of the Tibetan Women’s National Uprising Day.
On 12th March 1959, thousands of Tibetan women gathered on the ground called ‘Dri-bu-Yul-Khai Thang’ in front of the Potala Palace, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s residence in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital.
This demonstration – Women’s Uprising Day – was the spark that initiated the Tibetan women’s movement for independence.
Tenzin Sangmo is a Tibetan mother and she lives in England. She is a Nurse by profession and volunteers with the Tibetan Community in Britain. Tenzin serves on the Council of Tibetan Community in Britain as the Regional Coordinator.
In August 2020, Tenzin organised and led a 5-day peace march – “Walk for Tibet” from Bristol to London, covering over 150 miles with three other Tibetans to raise awareness of China’s occupation of Tibet. She is passionate and advocates for the rights of Tibetans and others who are persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.
From the early 1950s The People’s Republic of China consolidated its 1949/’50 invasion of Tibet by constructing airfields, building roads leading to India’s border, stationing over 10,000 People’s Liberation Army troops in Lhasa, destroying monasteries, executing monks and sending thousands more to labour camps.
By 1957 Tibet’s eastern province, Kham, was in open revolt. Khampa raids on remote Chinese outposts and barracks provoked reprisals; tens of thousands of Khampas then marched towards Lhasa, doubling the capital’s population.
Enraged by the Khampa revolt and resistance, the Chinese generals in Lhasa – led by General Tan Guansan – put increasing pressure on the youthful Fourteenth Dalai Lama and his ministers to control their activities. In mid-February 1959 the Chinese discovered that promises of a “committee to discuss Khampa activities and report to the Chinese” was a fiction of the Tibetan Prime Minister, Surkhang, and his Cabinet. In reality, guns and ammunition were being distributed nationwide to prepare for armed revolt.
The defection of a key Chinese general on February 24 to the Tibetan resistance triggered open confrontation. “Under Communism I have no liberty,” General Chang Hwating confided to a Tibetan official. “The Communists treat all human beings like animals and I don’t believe we Chinese have any right to be in Tibet.” General Tan – a ruthless veteran of Mao’s Long March – ranted at the Cabinet that they had “one week to return the Chinese general. Otherwise …!” The week ended on March 3, 1959.
THE PEOPLE REVOLT
On March 4 the Dalai Lama was to take an oral examination for his geshe (doctorate) degree at the Jokhang – Lhasa’s main cathedral. But on March 3 a traitor scholar-monk facilitated an unscheduled meeting in the Jokhang between two PLA officers and the Dalai Lama to deliver General Tan’s invitation to a theatrical performance at the main Chinese army camp.
Within hours of this meeting, Peking Radio announced that the Dalai Lama had agreed to visit Beijing – an invitation which Tibet’s leader had carefully, in fact, been bypassing. Lhasa’s reaction was that the broadcast was a ploy to force the Dalai Lama to leave Tibet.
The mood for revolt was permeating Lhasa when, on March 7, the Dalai Lama agreed to attend the military’s theatrical performance on March 10. Violating standard protocol, on March 9 Tibetan security was ordered not to provide armed bodyguards to escort the Dalai Lama to the entertainment next day. The result? Rumours flew around Lhasa that their ruler was about to be kidnapped.
By sunset on March 9 thousands of citizens had ringed the yellow walls of the Norbulingka park and palaces – summer residence of the Dalai Lamas. In the city, a petition had been sent to New Delhi for help. As night fell over Norbulingka, patriotic songs rose from the crowd and shouts of “Tibet for Tibetans”. March 10 morning saw more than 10,000 Tibetans forming a human barricade against the Dalai Lama leaving his palace walls – thereby defying their leader’s own decision.
Seeing an imminent clash between the Tibetan people and Chinese army stationed in Lhasa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Lhasa on the night of March 17, quietly, without the knowledge of general public. He left for South Tibet to de-escalate the situation in Lhasa.
To lower the crowd’s anger, Surkhang invited them to choose representatives to talk to, and work with, those inside the Norbulingka. This gave birth to the Freedom Committee – a body of around 60 workers, peasants, traders and businessmen who then worked with the Cabinet during the crisis. Soon the patriotic crowd was issuing orders to security personnel and ministers via the Freedom Committee. Vehicles and pedestrians leaving or entering Norbulingka were stopped and searched by those vigilante citizens.
By late on March 10 Surkhang informed the Dalai Lama that his Cabinet had decided that he must “be prepared, if necessary, to set up his government outside Lhasa until help could come from India or the Western countries”. The escape plans began to formalize and by March 17, they were enacted. Disguised as one of his own bodyguard, bearing a rifle, the Dalai Lama marched away from his summer palace to a life of refuge in India.
THE WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION ROLE
The day of the Dalai Lama’s escape, as Tibetans prepared for certain bloodshed in Lhasa, 500 members of the Tibetan Women’s Association took out a major street demonstration. “… a solid phalanx of women came into view”, recalls a witness, “marching along the Yuthok Road … singing, carrying banners reading ‘Tibet for Tibetans’…”
The Association had been formed in the 1950s as a welfare organization, but its loyalties and activities were increasingly mistrusted by the Chinese occupation administration. In late February, General Tan had burst into a Women’s Association meeting, haranguing members and shouting: “Where there’s rotten meat the flies will gather. Get rid of the meat and the flies will case you no more trouble” – alluding to the Khampa guerrilla fighters as flies and the Dalai Lama as rotten meat.
THE LHASA UPRISING
March 20 – Bloody Friday At 2a.m. Lhasa was woken by artillery shells firing on the Norbulingka. By dawn battle began. The PLA had ringed the city with tanks and all exits were blocked. Street and alleys were barricaded and machine guns aimed down from rooftops and upper windows.
Meanwhile the 8,000-strong Tibetan Army was mainly deployed at strategic points around the city – 4,000 soldiers, alone, positioned to cover the Dalai Lama’s escape southwards. The defence inside the capital was mainly in the hands of civilians, “…ordinary simple people who had only asked to be left alone, who had hardly ever raised a finger in anger, had now been pushed so far that reason no longer counted,” writes war correspondent Noel Barber in From the Land of Lost Content*. “Lhasa had now reached that moment of the spirit when even victory was unimportant, when death and defeat were preferable to inaction.”
Women hauled sandbags and bales of wet wool to build barricades around the Jokhang so ammunition and arms could be supplied from the cathedral’s arsenal. Khampas, swords flashing, stormed Chinese positions to be mown down by machine gun fire. Chinese mortars thudded into the streets.
In the pitched battles of March 20, the Tibetans were dominant and inflicted heavy casualties on Chinese troops – on an estimated ratio of five Chinese for every dead Tibetan. But the day’s toll of dead civilian citizens is between 2-3,000 – including 20 women trapped in the Women’s Association building who were machine-gunned when they refused to surrender to a Chinese patrol. Writes the London Daily Mail’s Noel Barber: “The people of Lhasa, knowing only that their god was being hunted like an animal, were seized with a fury that made them utterly indifferent to the overpowering odds against them.”
MARCH 21 – THE DAY OF SAVAGE KILLING
By Day Two, the heart of Lhasa, the Jokhang area, was a besieged fortress, with Tibetans isolated and blocked off from reinforcements. In the afternoon an hour-long mortar bombardment killed every man defending the cathedral’s makeshift barricades.
Day-long battles – both military and civilian – raged in a dozen locations while merciless hand-to-hand fighting erupted in congested streets and narrow alleys. Guerrilla warfare tactics, using grenades and shells, were employed to make assaults on Chinese strongholds – the city’s requisitioned houses and PLA army camps.
Later morning the Norbulingka came under artillery bombardment, followed by machine gun and mortar fire, leaving devastating damage within the 10-ft high granite walls. The London Daily Telegraph correspondent, George Patterson, reported that “…800 shells were poured into the Norbulingka, destroying about 300 houses belonging to leading officials.” Chinese militia then checked every corpse to see whether their prime target, the “rebel leader, the bandit chieftain” had been eliminated.
With unlimited reserves of men, and modern weapons at hand, the Chinese occupation force annihilated Tibet’s spirited resistance fighter and by day’s end the dead joined the litter of empty mortar shells and bullet cases on Lhasa’s streets. Smoke smouldered from the petrol bombs made and hurled throughout the day by the women of Lhasa. As around 10,000 Tibetans crushed into the Jokhang Square that night, rumours circulated that Chinese tanks would be deployed there next morning.
MARCH 22 – FALL OF THE HOLY CITY
The bombardment to eliminate Tibetan resistance broke out at dawn when a Chinese mortar landed in the sacred Jokhang’s inner courtyard. So the final assault began, and by early afternoon probably half of the 10-15,000 Tibetan killed in these three bloody days of conflict had lost their lives.
Having pounded strongholds of resistance fighters to rubble, PLA tanks then turned their sights on the 7th century cathedral and its populated precincts. This final battle raged for three hours until, at around 2p.m., loudspeakers started blaring out across Lhasa.
The first voice was the military supremo, General Tan, telling the citizens that if they layed down their arms all would be forgiven. The next recorded message was from Ngabo Ngawang Jigme – a Tibetan Cabinet minister-turned- collaborator – ordering the fighting to halt in the name of the government. The Dalai Lama, he informed the silenced audience, was alive but “abducted against his will” by “reactionaries”.
With this unauthorized command, Ngabo brought the First Tibetan People’s Uprising to its finale. And the surviving resistance fighters shouldered their arms and possessions and melted away to the mountains, determined to fight another day.
Compiled by Jane Perkins |
*From the Land of Lost Content: The Dalai Lama’s fight for Tibet by Noel Barber: 1969, Collins, London. (A reconstruction of events based on eye-witness accounts).
A group of Tibetans in London are taking part in #WalkaMileForTibet on 10th March 2021 in support of Tibetan independence activisit and writer – Mr Tenzin Tsundue. India-based Tsundue started his month-long Peace Walk from Dharamsala to Delhi (500 kilometres distance) on Losar – Tibetan New Year – on 12th February to raise awareness of China’s continued colonisation of Tibet as well as the border clashes between India and China.
Tsundue’s mission is simple: he wants India to Repeal “One-China” Policy and hopes to expand this campaign around the world. The Tibetan activist is expected to submit his online Petition to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after completing peace walk on 10th March.
Tsering Passang of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) said, “We are soon going to launch a parallel campaign – Repeal “One-China” Policy here in the UK. It is time we build stronger alliances with like-minded causes and countries and, then exert increased pressure on China to abide by international norms. We must stop China’s global expansionist drive now.”
10th March 2021 marks the 62nd Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day. On 10th March 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up against the invading Chinese forces in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. A week later, on 17th March 1959, Tibet’s temporal and spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama left Norbulinka, his summer palace in Lhasa and then went into exile to India. He established the Tibetan Government-in-exile (aka Central Tibetan Administration) after arrival in India. Dharamsala is the home of the Tibetan Government-in-exile since 1960.
China’s occupation of neighbouring countries such as Tibet and East Turkistan (Xinjiang) continues. The Chinese regime’s brutal suppression of peoples in China and the neighbouring countries is beyond the pale to say the least.
A panel of experts shared their thoughts on the freedom struggle of Tibet, East Turkistan and Hong Kong during a special virtual seminar, hosted by the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM), on 28 February 2021.
Benedict Rogers, Journalist & Human Rights Activist (CEO of Hong Kong Watch and Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission)
Rahima Mahmut, UK Director, Uyghur World Congress
Tenzin Tsundue, Writer and Tibetan Activist from India
Priyajit Debsarkar, Author & Political Analyst
Burzine Waghmar, Scholar, SOAS University of London
Tsering Passang, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM)
The seminar was hosted ahead of the Commemoration of the 62nd Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising in Lhasa, when tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up in protest against the invading Chinese Communist forces on 10th March 1959 in Tibet’s capital.
It also coincides with the month-long solo Peace Walk from Dharamsala (headquarters of the Tibetan Government-in-exile) to Delhi (500 kilometres distance) by Tenzin Tsundue, Writer and Tibetan Activist based in India, who leads his latest political campaign – Repeal “One-China” Policy. Tsundue started his Peace Walk on 12th February – Losar – Tibetan New Year and is expected to finish on 10th March 2021.
On 13th February 2021, Tibetans in diasporas commemorated the 108th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Tibetan Independence by the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, on 13th February 1913.
In Tibet’s history, foreign powers invaded this Buddhist landlocked country from time to time. The previous 13th Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet and went into exile, to India in 1910 and stayed there for over two years. After the Manchu dynasty collapsed in the course of the Chinese revolution and, with the remaining Chinese representatives expelled from Tibet, the 13th Dalai Lama declared Tibetan independence.
For nearly forty years afterward, Tibetans enjoyed self-rule – only for it to come to an end in 1949, after Mao Tsetung, the founder of the Chinese Communist Party, declared the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet from foreign imperialists. In March 1959, the current 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet and went into exile to India after Communist China invaded Tibet.
To discuss the historical development of China’s colonisation of Tibet and the Proclamation of Tibetan Independence by the 13th Dalai Lama, the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) were delighted to conduct an interview with a British scholar – Mr. Burzine Waghmar from the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
This online discussion was conducted by Tsering Passang of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) on 21 February 2021.
In his Proclamation of the Tibetan Independence, on 13th February 1913, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, declared: “Tibet is a country with rich natural resources; but it is not scientifically advanced like other lands. We are a small, religious, and independent nation. To keep up with the rest of the world, we must defend our country. In view of past invasions by foreigners, our people may have to face certain difficulties, which they must disregard. To safeguard and maintain the independence of our country, one and all should voluntarily work hard. Our subject citizens residing near the borders should be alert and keep the government informed by special messenger of any suspicious developments. Our subjects must not create major clashes between two nations because of minor incidents.”
The proclamation was made after the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama returned to Tibet from exile in India, in January 1913. At the time of the Dalai Lama’s return to his landlocked Tibetan Kingdom, the Manchu dynasty had been dissolved in the course of the Chinese revolution. For nearly forty years afterwards, Tibetans enjoyed self-rule – only for it to come to an end in 1949, after Mao Tsetung declared “peaceful liberation” of Tibet from foreign imperialists.
For Tibetans, Mao’s declaration was not only a brutal attack on Buddhist religion and the Tibetan culture but an illegal occupation of their peaceful nation by Communist China. The Tibetan people have a proud history of independence with the successive Dalai Lamas enjoying spiritual patronage over Mongols and Chinese emperors.
Just as it did more than a thousand years go, today, a doring (pillar) stands outside the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital city. On its stone sides the Tibet-China Treaty of 821-822 AD is carved, signifying the legacy of a free and independent Tibet.
“Tibetans shall be happy in the land of Tibet, and Chinese shall be happy in the land of China,” reads a key text in the treaty, clearly describing the borders between Tibet and China.
A New York-based Tibetan blogger, Ugyen Gyalpo, on his social media posting, “It’s such a paradox to say Happy Independence Day when our country is still under colonization. But what is not paradoxical is when we don’t take ownership of our historical past which is the basis of our fight. We must own our past and not suppressed it. We have compromised enough.
“We celebrate 4th of July like it is our own. We celebrate 15th of August like it is our own. We celebrate Canada Day, like it is our own. But we are hesitant to celebrate and reclaim our historical proclamation of independence on this day in 1913 by the 13th Dalai Lama. Are we living and embracing the world of alternate distorted facts. The only thing that separate our fight with China is the truth and if we are trying to be politically correct by denouncing anything to do with Independence, we are stabbing yourselves to death,” Gyalpo added.
Tibetan rangzen (Independence) activist and writer, Tenzin Tsundue in India launched his month-long Peace March from Dharamsala to Delhi on the Losar, Tibetan New Year – 12th February.
On the eve of one-man’s 500 kilometres Peace March, Tsundue posted on his social media, “I am going on a March from tomorrow, Dharamshala to Delhi to highlight the issue of Tibet as a missing link in the India-China conflicts.”
Tsundue’s mission is clear: “To fully appreciate the complexities of the Sino-Indian border conflict, the people of India must understand the issue of Tibet. The Indian government and its people must understand very clearly that India’s border will be permanently secure only when the Tibetan issue has been resolved”.
Tsundue will be asking the people he meets on the road “to sign an online petition asking the Government of India to repeal its One-China policy”. He also hopes that his “campaign will converge with a global campaign asking governments to repeal their One-China Policy.”
Tsering Passang, Convener at The Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM), who after recently taking part in the weekly vigil outside the Chinese Embassy, on 10th February, to mark the 108th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Tibetan Independence by the 13th Dalai Lama, said, “China must relinquish its grip on Tibet and allow Tibetans to exercise their basic rights including their freedom of speech. Tibetans have the rights to self-determination for Tibet, and China being a Permanent Member of the United Nations, it must upheld the founding principle of the world’s body that affect the Tibetan people.”
For those who haven’t read the Proclamation of Independence Issued by the Great 13th Dalai Lama, please see below:
PROCLAMATION ISSUED BY H.H. THE DALAI LAMA XIII, ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH OF THE WATER-OX YEAR (1913)
Translation of the Tibetan Text
“I, the Dalai Lama, most omniscient possessor of the Buddhist faith, whose title was conferred by the Lord Buddha’s command from the glorious land of India, speak to you as follows:
I am speaking to all classes of Tibetan people. Lord Buddha, from the glorious country of India, prophesied that the reincarnations of Avalokitesvara, through successive rulers from the early religious kings to the present day, would look after the welfare of Tibet.
During the time of Genghis Khan and Altan Khan of the Mongols, the Ming dynasty of the Chinese, and the Ch’ing Dynasty of the Manchus, Tibet and China cooperated on the basis of benefactor and priest relationship. A few years ago, the Chinese authorities in Szechuan and Yunnan endeavored to colonize our territory. They brought large numbers of troops into central Tibet on the pretext of policing the trade marts. I, therefore, left Lhasa with my ministers for the Indo-Tibetan border, hoping to clarify to the Manchu emperor by wire that the existing relationship between Tibet and China had been that of patron and priest and had not been based on the subordination of one to the other. There was no other choice for me but to cross the border, because Chinese troops were following with the intention of taking me alive or dead.
On my arrival in India, I dispatched several telegrams to the Emperor; but his reply to my demands was delayed by corrupt officials at Peking. Meanwhile, the Manchu empire collapsed. The Tibetans were encouraged to expel the Chinese from central Tibet. I, too, returned safely to my rightful and sacred country, and I am now in the course of driving out the remnants of Chinese troops from DoKham in Eastern Tibet. Now, the Chinese intention of colonizing Tibet under the patron-priest relationship has faded like a rainbow in the sky. Having once again achieved for ourselves a period of happiness and peace, I have now allotted to all of you the following duties to be carried out without negligence:
Peace and happiness in this world can only be maintained by preserving the faith of Buddhism. It is, therefore, essential to preserve all Buddhist institutions in Tibet, such as the Jokhang temple and Ramoche in Lhasa, Samye, and Traduk in southern Tibet, and the three great monasteries, etc.
The various Buddhist sects in Tibet should be kept in a distinct and pure form. Buddhism should be taught, learned, and meditated upon properly. Except for special persons, the administrators of monasteries are forbidden to trade, loan money, deal in any kind of livestock, and/or subjugate another’s subjects.
The Tibetan government’s civil and military officials, when collecting taxes or dealing with their subject citizens, should carry out their duties with fair and honest judgment so as to benefit the government without hurting the interests of the subject citizens. Some of the central government officials posted at Ngari Korsum in western Tibet, and Do Kham in eastern Tibet, are coercing their subject citizens to purchase commercial goods at high prices and have imposed transportation rights exceeding the limit permitted by the government. Houses, properties and lands belonging to subject citizens have been confiscated on the pretext of minor breaches of the law. Furthermore, the amputation of citizens’ limbs has been carried out as a form of punishment. Henceforth, such severe punishments are forbidden.
Tibet is a country with rich natural resources; but it is not scientifically advanced like other lands. We are a small, religious, and independent nation. To keep up with the rest of the world, we must defend our country. In view of past invasions by foreigners, our people may have to face certain difficulties, which they must disregard. To safeguard and maintain the independence of our country, one and all should voluntarily work hard. Our subject citizens residing near the borders should be alert and keep the government informed by special messenger of any suspicious developments. Our subjects must not create major clashes between two nations because of minor incidents.
Tibet, although thinly populated, is an extensive country. Some local officials and landholders are jealously obstructing other people from developing vacant lands, even though they are not doing so themselves. People with such intentions are enemies of the State and our progress. From now on, no one is allowed to obstruct anyone else from cultivating whatever vacant lands are available. Land taxes will not be collected until three years have passed; after that the land cultivator will have to pay taxes to the government and to the landlord every year, proportionate to the rent. The land will belong to the cultivator.
Your duties to the government and to the people will have been achieved when you have executed all that I have said here. This letter must be posted and proclaimed in every district of Tibet, and a copy kept in the records of the offices in every district.
From the Potala Palace.
(Seal of the Dalai Lama)”
Source (and further reading): Tibet: A Political History, Tsepon W.D. Shagapda, New Haven, 1967, pp. 246-248.
2021 Preliminary Election Results of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile
‘Mang-tso’ or democracy is one of the major gifts to the Tibetan people by His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama. Tibetans in exile have been enjoying democracy whilst experimenting with this new concept over the past 60 years. We still have a lot of good learning to do in the years ahead, in my view.
As per the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, there are currently 45 parliamentary seats for grabs – 40 in India/Nepal, 2 in Europe & Africa, 2 in North and South Americas, and 1 in the Australasia regions. The Tibetan parliamentary elections are held every five years.
On 2nd and 3rd January, the preliminary round of the parliamentary election was conducted in the UK despite the difficult circumstances due to the COVID-19 restrictions. A week later, on 9th January, the Regional Election Sub-Commission for Northern Europe announced the latest election results – votes cast by Tibetans in the UK, Ireland, and Sweden.
This latest announcement from the Regional Election Sub-Commission for Northern Europe clearly shows that I have secured the highest votes amongst the parliamentary candidates for Europe & Africa constituency. I am deeply humbled and thankful for placing me into the highest pedestal in my home country. Regrettably, these votes are not adequate for me to be in the next and final round in April.
In Europe, the vote banks are based in countries such as Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Holland where the Tibetan populations are much higher than in the UK. So, in short, I will not be going into the final round.
During these past six weeks, I have come across some amazing people, whom I had not previously met, supporting my 2021 Chithu election campaign based on my service records, potentials, and for being issue-oriented. Many of these individuals include former and current responsible Tibetan community leaders, professionals, and Tibetans from Tibet who are residing in various European countries, the US, Canada, India, Nepal, and Australia. And of course, there are my core supporters here in the UK. I will cherish their genuine support, trust and honest conversations for our shared interest in Tibet and the Tibetan people’s just cause.
I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to all those who have supported me with their votes and encouragement in the preliminary round. I also would like to extend my warmest congratulations and best wishes to all the candidates including those who will be going into the final round.
As a concerned Tibetan, I will continue to work for Tibet and the Tibetan cause, which I have been doing over the past two decades. For me, it’s a great honour to take part in the 2021 Tibetan parliamentary election to represent the Tibetan communities in Europe & Africa and more importantly, to be a voice for the Tibetans inside Tibet. I am also immensely proud to have engaged in a positive and clean election campaign.
To conclude, our country, Tibet, is still under illegal occupation by a foreign country – China. Fellow Tibetans, we must all unite and direct our energy, resources, and efforts to challenge the Chinese regime to restore freedoms and justice in Tibet. Bhod Gyalo!