Tibetan exiles show democracy at work

November 23rd, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Dharamsala, Nov 23 (IANS) By holding a free and frank discussion on the crucial independence versus autonomy issue that divides them ideologically, hundreds of Tibetan exiles who assembled in this abode of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, have shown how they can form a democracy that works.During the six-day special meeting Dec 17-22 called by the Tibetan parliament-in-exile at the behest of the Dalai Lama, nearly 600 Tibetan leaders representing all exiles conducted the meeting in the most democratic manner.

During the meeting, all voices - whether for complete independence or against the Dalai Lama’s middle path policy or even against the envoys of the Dalai Lama who have been engaged in talks with China since 2002 - have been heard without any attempt at censorship.

“This meeting was supposed to have free and open discussions on the future course on Tibet,” Samdhong Rinpoche, the Tibetan ‘Kalon Tripa’ (prime minister-in-exile), said here.

Though the Dalai Lama and a majority of the exiled leaders who are his supporters do not believe in aiming for complete independence of Tibet and are happy to accept genuine autonomy under China, they have allowed the backers of complete independence to have their say.

“I could put across my views in an open and frank manner in the meeting. Though differences of opinion are bound to be there -and this is a healthy democratic sign - I did not find any hostile reaction to what I was saying in favour of complete independence,” Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) president Tsewang Rigzin told IANS.

“We had some heated discussions in some of the groups during the meeting but, overall, it was a good exchange of views. It showed a true character of democracy,” leader of exiles Dawa Tsering, who supports the Dalai Lama’s middle path policy, told IANS.

Though the supporters of Tibetan independence could not muster a majority for their cause, they are happy that their voices were heard freely.

“We made ourselves heard. But till the Dalai Lama himself pushes for some drastic changes in policy, other Tibetan leaders will not go out and speak on their own,” independence activist Tenzin Tsundue said.

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