Following the violent suppression of the Tibetan people’s uprising against the Chinese occupation of Tibet on March 10, 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the members of Tibetan government followed by over 80,000 Tibetans escaped Tibet and sought political asylum in India and neighbouring countries. In exile, the Tibetan government was reorganised on modern democratic principles. A new charter of Tibetan in Exile has been adopted to govern the functioning of the government. The government-in-exile, which administers all matters pertaining to Tibetans and leads the struggle for the restoration of Tibetan independence, is headed by H.H. the Dalai Lama. He is assisted by a council of Ministers elected by the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies. The Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies serve as the Tibetan Parliament in exile and the members are democratically elected by the people. To Tibetans, in and outside Tibet, the Government-in-Exile is the sole legitimate government of Tibet.
The Tibetan Government-in-Exile comprises of several departments: Home, Education, Religion, Information and International Relations, Finance, Health, and Security. Apart from these departments, there are several autonomous institutions: Department of Audit, Public Service Commission, Election Commission and Planning Council, founded as per the special provision of the Charter.
There is an independent judiciary in the form of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission.
Tibetan refugees are scattered all over the world with majority in India, Nepal and Bhutan. In India, they are rehabilitated in 22 agricultural settlements, 21 agro-industrial centres and 10 handicraft centres. Over 83 Tibetan schools have been established to educate the young Tibetans in both modern and traditional education. The establishment of more than 160 monasteries and cultural centres accommodates over 10,000 monks and nuns and assists in the promotion and preservation of rich Tibetan heritage and culture which faces imminent threat of extinction in Tibet under the Chinese occupation .
Apart from the various settlements and cultural institutions, there are eight central non-governmental organisations: Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, Cholkha-sum, Ngari Association, Ghu-chu-sum and United Association etc. In addition to this under the auspices of Tibetan Youth Congress, a lone political party-National Democratic Party of Tibet was formed in 1995.
During the past 40 years in exile, Tibetan refugees have done well in preserving their own culture and identity. Many international aid agencies involved with Tibetan refugees regards the Tibetan case as one of the most successful refugee rehabilitation in the current world history.
Over the years, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has travelled extensively all over the world speaking about the tragedy of Tibet and preaching peace and non-violence. His contribution to global peace and harmony was recognised when he was presented with the Noble Peace Prize in 1989.
During the past years, the Tibetan issue has gained increasing international attention. Tibet Support Groups have been formed in more than 40 countries. Even in schools and colleges, Students for Free Tibet has been formed to support the Tibetan issue. Parliaments of several countries have adopted resolution in support of Tibet. World Parliamentarians Conference on Tibet (WPCT) has been held twice in New Delhi and Lithuania and the preparation for the third conference is in process. . Many countries have called upon China to respect the Tibetan people’s fundamental rights.
In exile, after a gap of around two decades, the Chinese authorities sent feelers through their official channels in Hong Kong expressing their desire to establish contacts with H.H. the Dalai Lama . Tibetan Government-in-exile, headed by the Dalai Lama, responded positively and this resulted in the visits of successive fact-finding delegations to Tibet and exploratory missions to China. Through out the Tibetan government’s dealing with the Chinese, a sincere and realistic attitude was adopted. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has gone a long way in accommodating Chinese interests in his series of initiatives like the Five-Point Peace Plan of 1987 and the subsequent Strasbourg Proposal of 1988. Instead of responding positively, the Chinese authorities has been trying to reduce the issue of Tibet to that of the personal well-being of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The attitude of the Chinese authorities was made clear in September 1992 by bringing out a so-called white paper on the situation of Tibet. This document not only reiterated China’s oft-quoted claims over Tibet, but also distorted Tibetan history to suit the present political interests of China. As a result H.H. the Dalai Lama I will no longer be able to pursue this policy with a clear conscience. It will be my responsibility to consult my people on the future course of our freedom struggle.”
On the basis of these policy guidelines, the Tibetan Government in exile has scheduled a four-point referendum whereby the Tibetans will choose their future course of action. The Four points are: 1) Middle Path, 2) Independence, 3) Self Determination and 4) Satyagraha (Insistence on Truth). Setting the above four options for the referendum, the government finalised August 96 for the voting period, however, it was extended one more year as a result of request from the people. During two full years, members of Tibetan People’s Deputies and NGOs took active part in educating the masses on the four options by undertaking lecture tours, workshops, seminars and conferences. Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest non-governmental organisation in exile, after series of meetings and discussions with the ex-Centrex members and intellectuals finally campaigned for the withdrawal of the referendum as they were convinced that the time is not ripe and conducive for the Tibetans to go for referendum. Before the scheduled voting period, government conducted an opinion polling within the Tibetan people, to which over 66% of the population said `no’ to the referendum. The Parliament-in-exile then passed a resolution supporting the people’s verdict.
Head of the State H.H. the Dalai Lama
Seat of the Government Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India
Elections Tibetan People’s Deputies & Cabinet Ministers
International Offices New York, Washington DC, Geneva, Paris, London, Moscow, Budapest, Tokyo, Brussel, Canberra, Kathmandu, Taipei, South Africa, New Delhi
Literacy rate 75 percent
Tibetan Bulletin (English, Hindi, French, Chinese), Sheja, and Tibetan Freedom (Tibetan)