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Dharamshala — On the occasion of Tibet's Democracy Day, Tibetans gathered at the main temple of Dharamshala to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the establishment of Tibetan democracy. On the occasion, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament, Penpa Tsering, addressed the crowd of over one thousand on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament.

After welcoming the audience, Speaker Penpa Tsering acknowledged His Holiness the Dalai Lama's profound and unceasing support of democracy, explaining, "...after escaping into exile in India, His Holiness gave full play to his original plans, including in the matter of the election of the deputies to a Tibetan parliament in exile capable of fully representing Tibetans both in Tibet and in exile, as well as in the matter of establishing the principal and branch offices and institutions of an administration in exile. And gradually, over the years, His Holiness guided the Tibetan people towards the realization of genuine democracy which is comparable to the systems prevailing in the progressive modern democratic countries of the world."

"The democratic system of government is a result of the historical evolution of the human civilization. Its culmination is marked by a society in which everyone is viewed as equal, without any discrimination based on one's position, wealth, gender, race, and so on. It is recognized as one of the best systems of government in the world today. But unlike in the cases of the people in the numerous democratic countries of the world today, where the general masses of people had to undergo turbulences of uprisings and bitter struggles to finally realize their dreams in the courses of their historical evolution, the Tibetan people did not have to experience these painful transitions towards this noble system of government. Rather than having to stage an uprising or to carry on a bitter struggle, and so on under a historical process of evolution, democracy came to the Tibetan people as a gift from His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

"Perceiving numerous purposes and benefits, His Holiness, with elation and out of affection for the Tibetan people, transferred his entire political powers to the leadership directly elected by them, thereby ending the nearly 400-year-old Ganden Phodang system of government headed by successive Dalai Lamas since the time of the Great Fifth. He thereby ensured the future sustainability on a firm foundation of the substance of the Tibetan movement embodied by the Central Tibetan Administration in exile for as long as their just cause remains unresolved. This is therefore a historic milestone in the evolution of Tibetan democracy addressing the core of the issues facing the Tibetan movement."

The Speaker went on to discuss the responsibilities, concerns and affairs of the current administration, adding that it is constantly flourishing and strengthening "thanks to the blessings emanating from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's and as a result of the combined efforts of both the exiled Tibetan leadership and people."

He also went on to address the Tibetan public, urging that the sustainability of Tibetan democracy is the responsibility of the Tibetan people, even those who have immigrated to western countries. "This kind of opportunity to elect the Sikyong and the Members of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile comes but only once every five years. In an administrative system such as ours, which is based on democratic values, it is a vital duty of the public to take active part in these election processes. And it is of utmost importance that everyone gets himself or herself registered as a voter and actually vote during the elections."

The Speaker then shifted to address those Tibetans still within Tibet, laying out the juxtaposition between China's September 1st, 2015, a day they celebrated as the establishment of the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region, and the Tibetan community in exile's September 2nd celebration of Democracy Day, marking the anniversary of their democratic freedom, only possible after escaping into exile.

He acknowledged such cases as the disappearance of the Panchen Lama, the recent death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, the to-date 142 self immolations, and the unjust detainment and torture of so many other Tibetans, asserting that now more than ever it is time to support the Tibetan cause.

In his closing statement for the day, Speaker Penpa Tsering added, "The gratitude the Tibetan people owe to the government and people of India for their past and continuing help is beyond defining in words and are certainly impossible to forget. At this official function in Dharamshala to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the establishment of the democratic system of the Central Tibetan Administration too, a group of Members of the Indian Parliament who support the Tibetan cause are taking part in order to show their strong support for the Tibetan cause. I take this opportunity to express immense gratitude to them all.

"Finally, I pray that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose selfless sense of caring towards all sentient beings is boundless and whose leadership of the world in general and especially towards all Tibetans both in Tibet and in exile is unparalleled, live for a hundred aeons, and that the just cause of the Tibetan people prevail with utmost speediness."

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