Tibetans living outside their Chinese-ruled homeland will go to the polls on April 11 in the third and final vote to vote for the leader, or Sikyong, of the government in exile in Dharamsala, India of Tibet, with final results announced on May 14.
Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard-trained law scholar, has served two consecutive five-year terms as Sikyong, an office filled with popularly elected candidates since 2011. vote and will leave that position when his current term ends in May.
The Tibetan community is estimated to include around 150,000 people living in 40 countries, mainly India, Nepal, North America and in Europe.
Penpa Tsering, former speaker of the Tibetan parliament in exile, and Aukatsang Kelsang Dorjee, former representative of the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama – who are at the forefront of the current race after winning in the previous vote – is pledging to increase efforts to gain greater freedom in Tibet, with plans to reach out to foreign governments and support groups around the world.
Tibet’s new Sikyong must continue to push for talks with China on greater autonomy for Tibet, “but I do not have much hope that the Chinese government will start a dialogue with the Tibetan government, Aukatsang said, telling RFA’s Tibet Service in a recent interview.
“So we must work towards increasing the Tibetan freedom struggle, and the Tibetan government must focus more on that struggle than on the government alone,” Aukatsang said. “Attracting and attracting support from the Indian government and its people is what I will aim for more.”
Penpa Tsering also told RFA that he would pursue “all possible ways to communicate with China, whether directly or indirectly”.
“But until the Tibetan problem is resolved, my main business focus will be to ensure that the Tibetans inside Tibet are happy, and also to seek to reject the assimilation policies of China. Kingdom towards the language, culture, religion and environment of Tibet, along with the influx of Chinese people [migrants] into the Tibetan regions. “
“These issues will remain the most important, and only after these will come the issue of welfare care for Tibetans living in exile,” Tsering said.
Member of parliament is selected
The May 14 election results will also elect 45 members of the Tibetan Parliament in exile in the new seventeenth session, with 10 candidates representing each of the three traditional Tibetan provinces – U -tsang, Kham and Amdo – and two representatives from each of the four Tibetan provinces of the main schools of Buddhism and Pre-Buddhist Bonpo.
Two members will also be voted to represent each Tibetan community in exile in North and South America and Europe, and one from Australia and Asia, except India, Nepal and Bhutan.
During interviews with RFA, Tibetans in India expressed varying degrees of familiarity with the proposed candidates, some saying they had been fully informed, and others acknowledged the mistake.
“I have thoroughly researched the profiles of all these candidates, because they will represent six million Tibetans,” said Lobsang Lungtok, a resident of South India, in that number, It is estimated the number of Tibetans still living in their traditional homeland.
“I want honest and conscientious people present [in parliament], “I said.
Tenzin Choekyi, another South Indian resident, said: “Because there are so many candidates running for parliament, I was very confused. “So I am relying on news media and social networks like Facebook to help me make my decisions.”
Formerly an independent country, Tibet was invaded and annexed by force 70 years ago, after which the Dalai Lama and his thousands of followers were in exile in India and other countries. other countries in the world.
Divisions persist in the Tibetan community in exile over the best way to promote the rights and freedoms of Tibetans living in China, with some calling for the restoration of independence lost as the army The Chinese army entered Tibet in 1950.
Instead, the Central Administration of Tibet (CTA) and His Holiness the Dalai Lama adopted a policy approach called the Middle Way, accepting Tibet’s status as part of China. promote greater cultural and religious freedom, including enhanced language rights, for Tibetans living under Beijing’s rule.
Both pioneers in the current competition for Sikyong support the Middle Way.
Partial success has been seen
The outgoing Sikyong, Lobsang Sangay, has achieved some success over his two terms, earning an annual pledge from the US of $ 9 million and a massive grant from Congress to support the community. Tibetan people in exile, two Western experts on Tibet write in a March 31 article on the East Asia Forum.
“But Sangay did not succeed in the main goal of the exiles: to persuade China to allow Tibet a ‘high degree of autonomy’ in exchange for the Dalai Lama to accept China’s sovereignty over his old country, “Robert Barnet, The School of Oriental in London and African Studies, and Allen Carlson of Cornell University.
The challenge facing Tibet’s exiled leader today will be to move away from media campaigns and calls for legislative support to “detailed, pragmatic strategies that demonstrate a common good. [other] governments, ”wrote Barnett and Carlson, adding that India’s growing ties with leaders will be particularly important.
But while India’s hospitality towards the exiles is unshakable, they write, “its strategic interests often converge only with the exiles when its relations with China. become difficult.
“There is a need to develop a strategy that New Delhi sees in its favor under favorable or bad weather conditions,” said Barnet and Carlson.
Nine rounds of negotiations over greater autonomy in China’s Tibetan regions were held between high-ranking Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama’s envoy starting 2002, but stalled. in 2010 and never again.
Report by Kalden Lodoe and Tashi Wangchuk for the RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translation of Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.