Waiting for Mangtso III



Some of you may have noticed. One reader pointed it out in a comment on Phayul.com. The title of this three-part essay was borrowed (and tweaked) from Samuel Becket’s famous play, Waiting for Godot – probably the ur script in the theatre of the absurd.  A quick summary of the plot: two tramp-like characters sit under a bare tree waiting for someone named Godot to arrive. While waiting they eat, sleep, sing, play games and talk, especially about Godot, as if they knew him well, which they don’t. Godot doesn’t come. The end.

You can guess I wasn’t feeling too cheerful when I started out writing about the state of our quasi or (more hopefully) embryonic democracy. But after I posted the first part of the essay and received some lively feedback from readers, I must admit that things began to look a little more hopeful. In Part One I dissected our present political system and pronounced it not exactly a democracy, in spite of official claims. In part two I made the case that only a party-based system could make our exile political system a real democracy, and concluded that we needed a strong national party, committed to Rangzen and democracy, to win “the Kalon-Tripa and parliamentary elections and, with the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, legitimately take over the government-in-exile.”

But of course the underlying problem has not only been how to go about creating a national political party, but also have it accepted officially by Dharamshala. From what I understand the present Exile Charter does not have any provisions for the legal formation and registration of political parties. To get a new ruling inserted into the Charter is going to be next to impossible, or at least take a very long time to accomplish. But then, is such a new law really necessary?

For instance there is absolutely no mention of political parties in the American Constitution, but the party system came into being in the US and established itself as a vital part of American polity. I am not a constitutional scholar but I think that the freedom of assembly, or freedom of association, as it is sometimes referred to, provides the legal basis for people to come together and form political parties. Freedom of assembly, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, is interpreted to mean both the freedom to assemble and the freedom to join an association. The next logical progression is, of course, starting your own association or political party, which is just an extension of the right to free assembly. Since the freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political freedom and a civil liberty, I am sure the exile government recognizes and guarantees it to all those within its authority. Hence there should be no legal problem for Tibetan political parties.

Presently we have the National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) in Dharamshala, which fields candidates for the Parliamentary elections.  I understand that the Party once requested permission to register with the electoral commission, but was told that the commission had no provisions for doing that, but that the NDPT could go ahead and put up their candidates anyway. The NDPT was established by the Tibetan Youth Congress. The Central Executive Committee of the TYC invited me and other former Central Executive members to a meeting in 1993 (or 94), where a plan was discussed to create a political party that would reinvigorate the Tibetan political environment. My friend Lhasang Tsering and I participated in the founding conference of the party in September 1994. But official pressure was put on the conference not to include Tibetan independence in its primary goals, and a majority of the delegates went along with this. So Lhasang la and I withdrew our membership from the party.

But the point I wanted to make here is that no official registration seems to be required to form a political party and field candidates in the national elections. If we want to be absolutely sure about the legitimacy of introducing a political party in Tibetan politics, then we have, in fact, the blessings of His Holiness himself, who urged the TYC in their Annual Working Committee Meeting in August 1990 to take the initiative and form a political party. Does this mean that we have resolved the issue of whether a political party advocating Tibetan independence can participate in Tibetan electoral politics, and whether this overlong essay can finally end at this convenient juncture?

I’m afraid we’re not quite there yet. One fundamental problem that sticks out is the logistical one of setting up a genuinely democratic and participatory political organization in an exile society physically dispersed all over the Indian subcontinent, and these days, the world. Of course, I never saw myself launching any political party from my solitary retreat in the Appalachian mountains, but when I said I was going to write a Part III to the “Waiting for Mangtso” essay, I did hope to be able to offer the readers some practical solution to this question. I want to apologize for it taking this long, but I spent quite a bit of time thinking and working (with a few other friends) on a partial solution, but one that would have the virtue of being practical and immediately implementable. Let me lay it all out here, from its inception.

Last summer when I was in India, I (besides writing Part I of “Waiting for Mangtso”) gave a PowerPoint presentation, Independent Tibet -The Facts, at a number of schools and Institutions in Dharamshala, Delhi and Bangalore. I also traveled to Bylakuppe where I was the guest of Shingza Rimpoche, the dynamic young rangzen activist from Golok. He arranged for me to speak to the monks of Sera monastery, the Bylakuppe public and the children of the SOS School.

I don’t think I can adequately describe the incredible enthusiasm of the monks, lay-people, college-students, schoolchildren and new-arrivals who attended these talks. The near unanimous fervour and eagerness of everyone to discuss the issue of Tibetan independence, caught me completely by surprise. It might also have caused a little concern to some in Beijing. A denunciation of my talk and myself (the “radical-separatist”) appeared on bbs.tibet.cn on 29.7.09.

Many in my audience spoke of their desire to contribute to the cause and expressed frustration at not finding a way to do so. Some spoke of the need for an organization of progressive and patriotic Tibetans who believed in rangzen. In fact some of them asked me about the Rangzen Alliance (which the late Taktser Rimpoche, myself and some others started in 2000) and what it was doing now.

With the Alliance’s few members scattered around the world, it is in no position to start a political organization or undertake any major rangzen project. Yet I think that because of the Alliance’s unwavering (and initially unpopular) stand on rangzen, it has a measure of credibility in the Tibetan world and could serve to bring those who believe in rangzen together, at least for a national discussion.

But how do we go about creating this national discussion or dialogue? Most Tibetans live their lives in what can only be described (I am not speaking metaphorically here) as a vast concentration camp – admittedly, with varying degrees of confinement and privileges. The rest of us in exile are scattered to the four winds. Even those of us fortunate enough to live in the free world are tied down by jobs, families and responsibilities, and not able to communicate, far less interact with, other Tibetans on a regular basis.

Having brainstormed the problem we decided that the Internet and related communications technology offered a solution that though seemingly inappropriate to our not-so-advanced society, could at least be undertaken as a first step. This solution also held out the only real long-term possibilities for overcoming the barriers to communicating with Tibet and for moving an older generation-in-exile into the modern world.

The Internet has become the most powerful global conduit of knowledge and information, and at the same time an unprecedented social and cultural leveler. The enormous potential of this technology for opening up closed societies and spreading freedom and democracy is evident in China’s massive efforts to censor and police the Internet. The Tibetan struggle does not appear to lend itself to wonderful solutions, no matter how spiritual or high-minded, as the latest “talks with China” have demonstrated, yet a kind of nonviolent silver bullet does appear to exist for us in “The Arsenal of Freedom” (to paraphrase President Roosevelt) in the form of Internet technology. And we have already been using it, if we think back to March 2008 and the role that the cell phone and YouTube played in that revolutionary uprising throughout Tibet. As I speak, young people all over Tibet are keeping our language, culture, identity and collective defiance alive through blogs and writings on the Internet.

As a first step the Rangzen Alliance will put up a discussion forum, which will soon be online, but have restricted access. To make these discussions as open and democratic as possible discussants will be able to introduce their own topics, and have others comment on them. This discussion forum will be linked to the Rangzen Alliance’s public website rangzen.net, which is being completely redesigned and will carry many new features.

The Alliance had earlier convened open symposiums and forums in New York City and elsewhere. Although we generally had great turnouts, the discussions often degenerated into rangzen vs. middle way squabbles, or expressions of concern about the TGIE’s or the Dalai Lama’s reaction to such gatherings, or the repetition of the bizarre claim that since all Tibetans had rangzen in their hearts, advocating it or arguing on its behalf was not only pointless but harmful to Tibetan unity. Hence this new discussion forum will only involve Tibetans and friends who are committed to the cause of Tibetan independence and who are unafraid to express their beliefs.

Such a discussion forum will allow rangzen advocates and activists to participate in a community of like-minded compatriots with whom they can, not only share opinions, concerns and hopes, but also have their own special ideas and plans discussed seriously by interested and involved people. Depending on what the discussants might eventually work out or resolve: a new rangzen campaign, an international conference or a national political party, could then possibly be created. The bottom line being that all these events would come about through democratic discussion among Rangzen activists and supporters world over, and not be decided by a leader figure or a clique.

The only requirement to join is a declaration of commitment to the three goals of the Rangzen Alliance:

•    The restoration of Tibetan independence.
•    The return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet as the sovereign head-of-state of an independent nation.
•    The establishment of a fully democratic system of government in exile Tibetan society and in free Tibet – based on the rule of law and the primacy of individual freedom.

An online registration form is available on rangzen.net (click here). A PDF version (in English) can also be downloaded (click here).

Although the discussion forum is restricted to registered members, the new public website offers many ways for even non-members to interact and express their opinion. Comments and ratings of posts are open to all, as well as dedicated submission forms for individual contributions as film, book and music reviews, essays, event promotion, video sharing, etc. A number of well-known political writers on Tibetan freedom are contributing to a large blog section and offering their unique reflections on our political affairs.

This Internet experiment will need the contribution of volunteers to succeed. We are looking for rangzen-committed writers, bloggers, editors, discussion-moderators (including Tibetan and Chinese languages) and volunteers to help in other ways. We have a fantastic activist/ web-developer (a veteran of the ‘89 Lhasa demonstration) putting the finishing touches to the website, while three other members are setting up the organizational stuff.


70 Replies to “Waiting for Mangtso III”

  1. I apologize from the out set for more or less rewriting a comment I had made earlier on the previous article. My comments were made today on the previous article to this one.With the publishing of this aricle today I would still invite some educational commentary regarding my statements as to would it not be productive for Tibetans in Tibet to work inside of “China” for a better China through rallying other chinese and chinese minorities to change the current system of government and philosophy? Does not the mind control the hands? Meaning, change the thinking to release the grasp. I have read your brilliant pieces on Tibetan historical autonomy and sovereignty and am beginning to understand your history. Yet those arguments have never reversed the concept and effect of Manifest Destiny anywhere that I am aware of.

    Also if you read my comment, and I think it was the last comment made regarding your previous article, I want to point out that my comments about Osama Bin Laden and his capture and housing in Lhasa for Ah-merica to decide to liberate Tibet are tongue in cheek by I think could use some serious consideration. Also I do not think that it be necessary for Tibetans to accept citizenship of China in order for them to concentrate their efforts on rallying up the “fellow chinese” to bring an end to all of their suffering

  2. “The return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet as the sovereign head-of-state….

    The establishment of a fully democratic system of government in exile Tibetan society and in free Tibet ….”

    A theocratic god king as the head-of-state in a fully democratic system of government. Wonderful invention, keep going!

  3. Dear Jamyang Norbu, is there any way to get an email contact with you? Mainly my request is about a paper published in Lungta. I tried to contact Amnye Machen Institute but the email address they give on their website is not working… maybe you can help me with respect to contacting AMI or with respect to the paper.

    Thanks a lot, tenzin

  4. He He

    Why don’t you tell us about how wonderful the dictatorship that has ruled China since 1949 is? See if you can get hold of one of Jackie Chan’s after dinner speeches to Chinese businessmen about how woderful China’s system is. Borrow some of his lines – they are side-splitting.

  5. I actually think the movie “Waiting for Godot” might be quite interesting and I might look for it in the Library. Got two interesting actors in there. I am definately going to sign up for Rangzen Alliance but I am having difficulty remembering to print out the form to sign it and cut a check for it. I was wondering if you had thought about doing that online also? It might make it easier for forgetful bums like me to pay by creditcard and just click I agree and you are a member. Hmmm…on second thought, maybe it might be better to do it the manual way as we have too many of those communists retards lurking around. So, scratch that idea.

    Pema Kadag, what do you mean by working with chinese and other minorities? There is nothing to stop Tibetans from working with Chinese to create a better society and a democracy but that is not the main issue and has never been. As long as Tibetans identify themselves as Tibetans and have a distinct cultural and historical background, China cannot accept that as it will always bring the question of Tibet being a separate people and country. They cannot allow that as that would mean the Chinese are the colonial power that they have been accusing all the western power for centuries now. They will lose face and Face is very important to them. They cannot see themselves as the demons they rightfully are. They will not allow Tibetans to exist as a unique culture and people as it has been evident for quite a while now. And it wouldn’t matter what kind of govt. they might come up with and though they might differ in severity, their main policy will not change. That is why they never discuss the status of Tibet and are only willing to talk about Kundun’s return and that is why Autonomy will never be accepted and is really a wild goose chase.

    Now, if you define happiness as eking out a living and doing exactly what is dictated to you by Chinese that is your prerogative but a lot of people will find that kind of existence meaningless and delusional as your people get marginalized and slowly reduced to a minority in their own land. Sure, it might be inevitable but we don’t have to like it nor do we have to sit idly by as the python slowly chokes the life out you. Even if death is inevitable, at least try to bite it or scratch it or even punch it in the mouth or spit it in the eyes. Or sing a really bad song to make the meal as gross as possible. I don’t think trying to make yourself as slim as possible to help digestion is going to really help the cause. But I do get your point that trying to build amicable relationship with Chinese and other minorities does not hurt but at the same time, we do not have to ingratiate ourselves and identify ourselves as Chinese as we are not. That would really put the final nails in the Tibetan coffin. In short, talking and building relationship is good as long as it is based on truth and mutual respect and does not involve us bending backwards so far that we not only kiss their asses but manage to kiss ours at the same time(it might be worth it just to see it once). By the way, they already say we are chinese and look how far that got us with all the puppet govt in Tibet.

  6. Billk,

    Can you enlighten me as to what the Chinese political system and what a movie star said about it have to do with a theocratic god king as the head-of-state in a “fully democratic” system of government?

  7. I am quoting Tenzin Gelek(a writer from Boston)

    “In their efforts to invalidate this authority of the Dalai Lama and in that process, demoralize the Tibetan struggle, the Chinese govt. have pursued and will continue to propagate large-scale erroneous media campaigns. That notwithstanding, there have been certain mishaps on our side in the last few months that can only be attributed to a clear lack of political foresight.

    Not so long ago, in the recent past, using selective quotes from an article by Jamyang Norbu entitled Waiting for Mangtso, the PRC’s official mouthpiece People’s Daily bolstered their hackneyed campaign against His Holiness. Their propaganda piece screamed – Tibetan separatist exposes Dalai Lama’s “democracy myth”. Now, there could be various theories to explain this calculated move by the PRC. Either, they are as usual trying to gather more arsenals against His Holiness and thus weaken his growing influence around the world as a proponent of truth and democracy. Or the more apparent scenario – pitting conflicting exile views against each other akin to the “divide and rule” policy. Whatever be the strategy and irrespective of whether the original Jamyang Norbu article may or may not have hinted at such insinuations, it has brought out one nagging issue in our exile community – the limitations of our freedom of expression. I am sure that there are certain advocates of “free speech”, who would argue in favor of such voices to be given space but when one of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes employs your words to support their argument against someone like the Dalai Lama, then it should hit you as a clear indication that you are going wrong somewhere. I strongly believe that democracy demands responsibilities more than it begets rights and by responsibility, I mean writing, speaking and using your influence in a responsible way.”

    Jamyang la,
    Please reply to this as it helps us rangzen advocates to argue convincingly. Please do not ignore this.
    Freedom of thought/speech/expression/action can not surrender to the demonical designs of PRC as much as it can not afford to fall victim to the excuses,however innocent it may be,of TGIE. No amount of rationalization will succeed in strangling the voice for further democratization of our system.
    Thank you.

  8. I don’t know what is the intention behind Hehe’s question but it’s a legitimate one. Billk’s response is way off unless Billk is comparing Hehe’s question to that of Communist dictatorial rule of China.

    Goals set by Rangzen Alliance just shows that it doesn’t have a unique identity of its own. Over all identity crisis whether it’s individual folks in exile or organizations in Tibetan exile community is endemic. Almost all young Tibetan are Tenzin and almost all of them think the way Tenzin thinks!!
    Maybe this particular assertion in the goals is demagogic in some ways.

  9. Pema Kadag la, Move Jerusalem in Lhasa and have jewish folks work behind Western nations to lobby for a resettlement of Jewish in Tibet. For better or worse, the rule of the game will be changed for the fate of Tibet if you can manage to do this.

  10. Tseringpo la, feel yourself as a Tibetan. You decide what you want for Tibet. It doesn’t matter if China praises you and demonizes you. Consciously or unconsciously, you are using this one technique to suppress freedom of speech.

  11. Tenpa…I am new to blogging and Tibet politics, in that I normally keep my mouth shut. I understand that the difference between the ruling of Tibet by China and the ruling of India by the British, in regard to strategy and human rights, are and were vastly different, But having thought about this and reading your comments I am thinking that maybe the model, on some level, that Ghandi used in order to help bring down the British Empire was and is similar to my suggestion. My suggestion is not to ask any Tibetan or any other minority in Tibet now living in Tibet to have their genetic code changed to chinese. If I am living in a place where it is obviously against my favor ethnically and all of my family and neighbors are suffering in the same way then it is my DUTY to bring immediate comfort to them. Then why not try and understand the policies of China in order to use them to your immediate comfort? Do we want Tibetans to suffer in Tibet? Do we want chinese to suffer in their own country as they have for much longer than the Tibetans? I am not a Ghandiphile nor am I the least bit knowledgable about his detailed method…but I will say that he helped to bring down the British Empire with their own laws to which they themselves did not live up to. It is easy for us outside of any situation to intellectualize a perfect noble strategy. Suffering people need comfort immediately

  12. Let me also say that with the idea of working with the laws from inside China and demanding equal rights for all “Chinese” then you MAY gain a cooperative upper hand over time. I am for a Free Tibet and I think that what I am suggesting will bring you closer to that concept much quicker than intellectual arguments to a mute,ie. China. On a day to day level which is the realistic level, Tibetans are humans and are in need, as are all of us,of a livelihood by their own determination. Waiting for Tibet to fix an exiled government and a Free Tibet does nothing inside Tibet, that I can see. Tibetans inside Tibet need to operate within China and understand the laws there. One more thing, Lamas did make prayers in the past “Bring the dharma of India, bring the laws of China” Now they have both. I say use them.

  13. HEHE

    Communist party in China
    so communist in nature that the communities having the need of saving their lives out of China
    what a wonderful invention of Mao that u go on living!!!!

  14. we already have a similar forum at phayul.com where people discuss on every matters including rangzen, but the problem is that they are infiltrated by chinese splittists and there is a widespread use of foul language and accusations hurled at each other to deter the tibetan youngtsers which i abhor.

  15. SHELLEY,
    Your (and Billk’s) ranting has nothing to do with the question I raised. It only indicates that the question perhaps indeed touched somebody’s soft belly.

  16. He He

    The tone of your first post was very much like that of Chinese Tibetan haters who regularly post on this and other forums. If you are actually somebody who cares about the plight of the Tibetan people then I am happy to apologize. Your future posts will demonstrate whether or not I will have cause to offer an apology.

    Anyway, while we on the topic of laughable claims, how about this one:

    “Everything we do, we do to ensure that the people live a happier life with more dignity and to make our society fairer and more harmonious.”

    – Wen Jiabao

  17. Hehe

    Commenting on
    “The return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet as the sovereign head-of-state….

    The establishment of a fully democratic system of government in exile Tibetan society and in free Tibet ….”

    you say
    “A theocratic god king as the head-of-state in a fully democratic system of government. Wonderful invention, keep going!”

    I am not sure what your point is – the Queen of the UK is the sovereign head of state, and the UK is a democracy. It’s a standard form of democracy around the world. Can you construct a more specific argument?

  18. BILLK,

    No apology needed. You didn’t attack me personally. You just choose to dodge the question I raised. I can understand the emotion behind, but I dare to say that it is counterproductive to let emotion override logical thinking. May I dare to add a bit more: what should be done (which is often subjective) is not the same as what can be done (which is often objective).

    Second, Wen is a politician. Politicians make political statements. It is politically naive to take what politicans say, especially in public, at face value. I don’t find his statement laughable because I regard it as a political statement which indicates, perhaps, what he intends/wishes to do politically. You see the terms “happy, fair and harmonious”, whereas I see the “er”s. I digress.

  19. ZOLTAN,

    First, I don’t consider the UK fully democratic. Having elections do not necessarily mean there is democracy. (E.g. warfare is a very serious matter for a country. The UK went to war recently when there was clear opposition among the majority of its population.)

    Second, would you consider it a bit farfetched to compare the role of the Dalai Lama with that of the Queen? The Queen hardly provides any political and/or spiritual leadership to the British people (in fact, they perhaps would be outraged if she did.). I don’t want to go any further than the above in case some people are going to be offended.

  20. I think nobody is going to claim that we Tibetans have full fledged democratic government. However, our government does have the main components that any democratic government must need; ie. executive, judiciary and legisleture.

    Regarding the forming of political party with Rangzen ideology, I don’t think anyone capable of running our government without creating rift among other organisations. So it is better to stay united in the first step. Then CHARGE!

  21. T.D.

    Nobody said anything about “Tibetans HAVE full fledged democratic government”.

    The only requirement to join is a declaration of commitment to the three goals of the Rangzen Alliance:
    • The restoration of Tibetan independence.
    • The return of HIS HOLYNESS the Dalai Lama to Tibet as the SOVEREIGN HEAD-OF-STATE of an independent nation.
    • The establishment of a FULLY DEMOCRATIC system of government in exile Tibetan society and in free Tibet – based on the rule of law and the primacy of individual freedom.

  22. Regarding this whole “sovereign head of state” dispute, the fact that people who otherwise absolutely support Rangzen are raising concerns indicates to me that there is an issue which needs to be resolved. Whether it’s clarification or simply removal of this goal that’s needed, I’m not sure. My impression of what JN-la has in mind here is a situation something like what Thailand has, where the King is universally revered as the source of authority and national sovereignty, but does not actually intervene in political affairs (except maybe as a peacemaker in times of crisis). If this is compatible with an overwhelming majority’s wishes and strengthens the draw for people to commit to support the other goals, then it’s probably reasonable and for the best. But on the other hand if it casts doubts on the sincerity of “democracy” or fuels Chinese propaganda about reinstituting a “feudal theocracy” without bringing much benefit, why keep it?

  23. To hehe,
    We Tibetans WILL have a full fledged democratic government when we get either independence or freedom.

    But at present, because of our status as an exiled, we face many difficulties TO HAVE a full fledged democratic government. But yes, our government is still a democratic government, may be at its early stage.

  24. I have to agree with poster “R” on the meaning of a sovereign head of state. It is up to Rangzen Alliance to state clearly the role HHDL will assume as “Head of State” in a post independent Tibet. If HH’s name is being used purely for popular support then except for demanding Rangzen, the current state of affairs will be no different to what is to be expected in the future. It is certainly not a popular decision to make but all Alliances and Parties of the future must have a clear mandate on what political role religious institutions and their heads will play in a “democratic” Tibet, since the monasteries and Lamas wield considerable influence on the hearts and minds of the Tibetan masses.

  25. HEHE
    ur ranting has got nothing to do with the point i made…if chinese can borrow Marx Communism and give it a shape far away from what Marx intended…why can’t Tibetans form the kind of democratic government that apt to their communal life

  26. Jamyang Norbu has written before about the idea of HH Dalai Lama serving as a unifying head of state, as constitutional monarchs do in Britain or Thailand. This is not inconsistent with a democratic system and would permit the Dalai Lama to continue to offer his spiritual and moral leadership. In any case, His Holiness has said repeatedly that he will not accept any political duties or power in Tibet when he returns.

  27. He He

    I think other posters have dealt well with why there is nothing laughable about HH the Dalai Lama returning to Tibet as head of state and Tibet having a fully-functioning and mature democracy. However I would like to return to the quote you found acceptable but I find laughable:

    “Everything we do, we do to ensure that the people live a happier life with more dignity and to make our society fairer and more harmonious.”
    – Wen Jiabao

    A political system that is as heavily dependent on state violence as China’s is not conducive to maximizing happiness or dignity and cannot be judged fair on any reasonable basis, because the losers in the game, as it were, lose out so badly.
    Further, most of us outside China understand “harmony” in terms of different voices being heard and blending together, rather than everyone being forced to sing the same note or shut up. Most of us also understand “stability” in terms of a society being able to function and people being able to resolve their differences without the police and secret services regularly cracking heads in the street and kicking down people’s doors in the middle of the night to drag them off for interrogation.

  28. BILLK,

    Don’t you think that it is a bit tongue in cheek to compare the role of the DL in Tibetan society with that of the Queen and the Thai King in their respective societies? (By the way, I am not sure if Thailand is really a democracy where the military seems to be calling the final shot.)

    Well, if you guys insist on calling an orange apple, so be it.

  29. So long as the government is for the people, of the people and by the people, for me, it does not make any difference how it looks like from outside.

    What we need is a true democratic rather than a STRUCTURAL democracy.

  30. These point of view are very interesting, but I think we should think more about the conflict beetwen the concept of “egality” and “elitist governance”, wich is included in your 3 points : if the Dalaï-Lama is at the head of the Tibetan State, first the 3 powers of a democratic state are note respected : executive, legislative and law. Second, everybody have the right to participate to the democracy, and if we continue to believe that they have inequality beetwen people and spiritual leader we cant say that it will be a democratic state.

    So I think that HH the Dalaï-Lama should be at the head of tibetan buddhism but not tibetan state.

  31. I am all for true democracy, end of theocracy, superstition etc. etc. but these are long term goals. Jamyangla is only trying to find the right balance between the most idealistic and the most practicable objectives given the mindset of the majority of Tibetan population. And there is nothing wrong in that. No two country’s history are the same and no country in the present world has a “True Democracy”. These idealistic goals will have to take a back seat to the more immediate goal of getting our country back.

    To me what burns me the most about China’s colonisation of Tibet is that it has not only robbed our land but also the opportunity for Tibetan people to enlighten themselves. Whenever China and its apologist imply that Tibet needed some one from outside to liberate itself….

    T.D la, I believe that a true domocracy will need structure. It is the presence of structure in the western democracy that allows for mass participation and space for different opinions and restricts those who want to impose their will on the masses. I think the humanity has still a very long way to go before it attains a moral standard high enough that written laws are no longer needed.

  32. He He

    No, it is not tongue in cheek.

    BTW: Thailand is indeed a bumpy democracy that has had more than its fair share of coups and the military does exert undue influence over political affairs.

    However, even during those times when Thailand has been under martial rule, the Thai people have had far more freedom than the Chinese people do. Thailand is an open society where people have the right to dissent and use that right.

  33. come on, anybody on this site should pretty much know what that line implies, that is, if you had been attention. Dalai Lama is going to be the head of Tibetan people and just because Rangzen proponents differ in their view as to the approach to our nation’s destiny doesn’t change that. HOwever, it should be noted that nobody here believes that Kundun will still be exercising the same kind of political leadership that has been established for centuries. That is very clear both from Kundun’s wishes and most Rangzen advocate’s viewpoint. It just means something like the ceremonial aspect much alike Royal family in Britain and the thailand as far as politcs is concerned. But Dalai Lama’s prestige and exalted position in the religious aspect will never change regardless of political views and in that respect, he is still the heart of Tibet. No chinese bastards can change that. I am surprised people took it to mean something else.

  34. He He

    I think we have been quite forthcoming in our response to your posts, whereas you have been elusive about your position.

    A lot of Chinese people who post on this forum appear to have a deep hatred for Tibetan people. Others probably don’t hate Tibetans, as such, but feel moved to defend China from what they see as unreasonable attacks. Unfortunately any criticism of the regime in China seems to be taken as an unreasonable attack. That defensive attitude seems to make otherwise good-hearted Chinese people incapable of seeing that China’s occupation of Tibet has been intolerably cruel and continues to be so.

    If you are willing to pin yourself down enough to acknowledge that the status quo in Tibet cannot be tolerated by Tibetans and should not be supported by Chinese, you will gain my respect. If you are here simply to get a rise out us, then haven’t you got something better to do with your time?

  35. K.P lak,
    I agree with your comment written specifically to my earlier posting. But what I was trying to say is that the mere structure is not enough.

    There are many countries claiming themselves as democratic states. All of them have multi-party systems and constitution. Yet their governments, though elected by the people, are not doing anything for the people.

    Such governments do have a kind of democratic structure. However, they miss the main purpose; that is to serve the people. We shoud not forget this reality.

  36. BILLK,

    1. My position has been written clearly if you borther to read it carefully.

    2. Your ongoing ranting against the Chinese has nothing to do with what I said.

    3. Your “you are either with me or against me” view is nothing new. George knows it better.

  37. Hehe

    Sure, the UK’s democracy is far from perfect – but that’s not because of the Queen!! Blair was instrumental with eroding some elements of the open society in the UK – but compared to China, it’s a whole different ball game. The point is not what faults the UK or Thailand might have, but whether there can in principle be a fully open society, a proper democracy in Tibet, with the Dalai Lama as a sovereign head of state. The answer is clearly yes, it could be. If that is what Tibetans want, the interesting question then is how to organise that precisely – puerile one-liners won’t help in solving that problem. Or else the question is how to specify the role of the Dalai Lama in some other capacity, yet one that respects the admiration and wishes of the majority of Tibetans for the Dalai Lama (which I have seen in Tibetans I have met both inside and outside of Tibet).

  38. Hehe, I don’t blame you (given what over a billion chinese have been brainwashed to believe) that Tibetans still want to restore the same old ‘evil system’ where Dalai lama ruled Tibet like ‘hell on earth’, and that Jamyang Norbu’s proposal to install His Holiness as the head of Tibet nation is indication that even after more than 50 years since ‘Tibetans were emancipated from the shackles of evil Dalai lama’ by the benevolent China, Tibetans haven’t reformed yet; thus, they shouldnt’t be given Tibet back.

    People say great things about internet and this information age, that it has the power to educate people through free flow of information regardless of national boundaries or location. People who still churn still Chinese distorted history of Tibet and Dalai lama are either genetically resistant to the force of internet age, or they just love CCP so much they refused to be educated through this free flow information about anything that proves CCP’s propaganda wrong. I have no idea where hehe falls.

  39. He He, I think some of Jamyang Norbu’s writings have lucidly explored the issues involved in having a democracy with such a powerful religious leader at the helm by convention and not election. He has very thoroughly discussed these pros and cons and for the question you’ve asked; I think they will provide some constructive reading for you if you are really interested in finding an answer for yourself.

  40. Zoltan, you raise the most important point in this discussion of democracry. That it’s about what Tibetans want.

    The thing about democracy is, even if it is absolutely pure democracy. If the people want a theocratic god king then they can choose to have one. They could choose a savage tyrant, a one party bureaucracy or a libertine anarchy. It;s that they choose. Of course they can be persuaded or coerced but if they choose it then who’s to stop them.

  41. Guys,

    I reiterate my position once again:

    A political system where a theocratic living god installed as head of the state is not democratic, let alone “fully democratic”, as Jamyang Norbu suggests.

    This has nothing to do with whether we are talking about Tibet or somewhere else! This has nothing to do with whether the proposed political system is good or bad either. It’s a matter of logic.

    I rest my case.

  42. A fair question to ask of any Tibetan political party in which the Dalai Lama is head of state, is what political power should the Dalai Lama have as a matter of constitutional right? Would he as sovereign exercise only ceremonial duties with respect to the running of state, and otherwise involve himself only in spiritual affairs? Conversely, could he sack governments he did not like (as happened once by the Queen’s representative in Australia, to general outcry) or make laws? The current Dalai Lama has said he wants no involvement in political power, so I guess the ceremonial role is what he would endorse?

  43. He He, Can you point to an example of democracy that fulfills your requirements? And why, exploring the idea of trying to fuse an old convention into a personalised form of people’s choice should be so hard to tolerate?

    At present the attempt at democracy in by TGIE is flawed due to its lack of checks and balances on the weight of HH Dalai Lama’s opinions and policy choices. His importance to the people is beyond the scope of understanding for so many people who accept no religion as their own, and results in a sort of cultural deference, but if there is to be advancement towards a true democracy, elected representatives of the people will need to have much more influence. A Tibetan democracy could function in a relationship with the Dalai Lama much as many western countries engage with the Papacy; voice that is important to a large section of the population but that has no direct decision making ability in political debates. Or, if the people decide, they could have (I know it’s not the best example) a scenario like Thailand (albeit hopefully a much more stable one) where there is a well respected monarchy whose ability to intervene in politics is desired at points by a large section of the population.

    Couldn’t a truly democratic country decide upon this for themselves? This movement is as much about the right to self determination for a former independent nation as it is about ensuring democracy once that right is retained.
    There seems to be a real determination towards a political restructuring amongst the Tibetan community, against very conservative forces too, but you seem to be making out, perhaps indirectly, that you think people are wrong for envisaging their own political system. After all, Communism with Chinese characteristics might not be strictly seen as Pure Marxist ideology either.

  44. Michael Brazel,

    “you think people are wrong for envisaging their own political system”, this is not what I said or suggested by any means if you look at what I have said carefully.

    All I am saying is that
    please don’t call an apple (i.e. a political system with a theocratic living god as head of state) organge (i.e. a “fully democratic” political system). Whether the apple is picked by the people and/or for the people is IRRELEVANT.

    If you guys think that the apple is indeed good, fine, I have no problem with it. But I have a big problem with people calling it organge.

  45. Do the majority of Tibetans in Tibet know the meaning of democracy? I am sincerely asking this question. Do Iraqis know the meaning of democracy? I am sincerely asking this question. Do Tibetans want democracy IF they know what it is? Would a democracy with HH Dalai Lama as the Head of State truly be a democracy? Was China a true “communism” under Mao? I don’t think so. It is similar both HH “ruling” a government for the people and by the people and Mao ruling as the King of communism.

  46. Quoting He He:

    “All I am saying is that
    please don’t call an apple (i.e. a political system with a theocratic living god as head of state) orange (i.e. a “fully democratic” political system). Whether the apple is picked by the people and/or for the people is IRRELEVANT”

    Although, as stated previously, there is no contradiction in the idea of a constitutional monarch serving as a ceremonial head of state in a democracy, it is really the statement above that shows that you don’t understand what democracy means. The fact that the “apple is picked by the people” is not only RELEVANT; it is the ONLY thing that makes the system democratic.

  47. This is in response to Pema Kadag’s comments. Tibetans if they did not know what democracy was, would they in the first place start peaceful demonstrations after 1987 riots in Lhasa, Tibet. Pema, you have to get updated about everything democratic that is taking place. The tibetan government in exile, democratic elections, and others..

  48. first of all, i thank you very much for this enlightening article which i waited for so long. i request you to write one more article on how this party system will save TGIE and ensure the continuation of the dalai lama institution. what threatens them which survived half a century now?
    the return of HH to tibet as head of state is a goal that acts as a good tool to attract supporters since majority of our people are simple faith driven. their dreams are real but often lacking logical soundness and basic political awareness. it is no exaggeration to say majority do not know what politics is all about. in Latin poli means many and ticks meaning blood sucking insects. literally. so politicians by nature suck the blood of other peoples for their own people, other countries for their own country, other politicians for their own seats, other families for their own family. that said i am very uncomfortable with a spiritual being as sovereign head of state however nominal his power may be.
    i am for the separation of religion from state in its totality. no ifs and buts. radical views today can be mainstrean foundations tomorrow if we take radical actions to the extreme!
    no dalai lama, karmapa lama, sakya lama, nyingma lama, bhonpo lama, khaje lama, yishu lama in tibetan politics. i very much respect their life devoted in the realm of religion and on this no one agrees with me more than HH. our spiritual heads are great human beings and i am very proud of them and very capable too but poor politicians. this is the lesson of our history. zero in defense, military and political ideology and system. they live by compassion pills and grasshopper determination and hope capsules whereas the world revolves around self-interests, gains and profits. and i don’t blame them on this given the nature of the world they are coming from. the followers esp monks and nuns with major as well as minor vows from all the schools are prone to sectarianism when their sect head is displeased(justifiably or not) by others including atheists like me. i have witnessed this sectarian hatred on regular basis although it’s currently not violent like the shias and sunis but it’s there nonetheless. well i can’t live in denials. i can’t fool others and i can’t fool myself. i can’t lie! often i have to ask them “how come you hate guru rinpoche so much who passed away 1300 years ago? what did he do?” they lack basic day to day respect. on this their tsaway lamas fail miserably. i am not looking for a perfect world but they will do good if they devote their whole life to spiritual pursuits like buddhahood like milarepa did who still continues to inspire me but…our spiritual heads can continue to maintain their titles, institutions without getting them tied to politics in any way. in times of crisis, internal racism, regionalism and civil war they can prove their mettle by becoming peace makers and advisers.

    well i hope this political party in the making will go far beyond tibetan national democracy party like sft is setting a good example to other organizations including tyc.
    tell us your facebook id. facebook platform is very lively and communication is far more effective than just some plain blogs. we should have more blogs though.

    yes i believe in




    am i still eligible to become a member?

    any way, thank you once again..tibetan thomas paine!

    long live jamyang norbu–the tibetan independence warrior with a million ideas!

  49. Dear Mila Rangzen,
    You said “in Latin poli means many and ticks meaning blood sucking insects. literally. so politicians by nature suck the blood of other peoples for their own people, other countries for their own country, other politicians for their own seats, other families for their own family”
    If this is the kind of politician you want to be the head of our government, I can’t imagine what kind of scenario is waiting for us!

    Let be down to earth! We are too small to suck other’s blood. Take a closer look into our history. WE DID THAT! And we are FUCKED like shit! (hahahah I borrowed this expression from a movie)But I mean it!

    We need Lamas. That is what we have and that is what PRC wants to snatch from us!

    You don’t know politics. This is my impression! Sorry guy.

  50. lamas don’t make good politicians. out! period! nowhere does it mean that tibetan lay politicians have to be cruel to each other or our own but when dealing with evils like china they should be aware of its outer and inner trappings and go from there with whatever view possible but definitely not with this defeatist view that pretends to be the wisest political philosophy on earth. should you still decide to bury your head in the sand like the ostrich then you are absolutely right..we are FUCKED! eternally…having hit the rock bottom already for so long.
    i salute those who fought to be free whatever the outcome was for the outcome can not be worse than a nation filled with self interested insensitive slaves. i despise those in the govt who did nothing or very little to support our freedom warriors. no wonder we are where we are.


    a new era is beginning. a new tibetan is emerging. the immage of the new tibetan is not very clear , but the horizon is becoming red and the sun will soon be there. the morning mist is there, and the image of the new tibetan is vague, but still a few things are crystal clear about the new tibetan…one of them is the tibetan freedom warrior!

  51. Mila Rangzen,
    Agree with most of what you say.Freeddom democracy ,recogniton of freedom fighters, doing away with lamas in ploitics etc etc,. Howeevr one thing should be also clear . The support we have in the west and everincreasing chinese intellectuals is solely because of his Holiness,s personal efforts. At this critical juncture there could be no better unifying force than him. Just because we declare and avow rangzen as our goal will not make our situation much better. One the other Hand we should appreciate and acknowledge the immense contribution made by our freedom fighters both past and present and not sweep them under the carpet as if something to be ashamed of. Do you think that if we came together unitedly under a freedom Banner the chinese would give it to us. It would just harden their stance. Why is Tibet constantly on the news and why do we ave foreign journalist regularly in Dharamsala? I have met westerners who are frankly afraid that we would disappear from the news the moment HH passes away.

  52. The main reason why many western leaders sometimes under chinese pressure still opt to meet the Dalai Lama,in an era wenn China is bracing itself to emerge as the next superpower is not that these leaders want to get back at china, what the Chinese always assume. It is usualy because these leaders know that the Dalai Lama is widely respected in their respective countries.they are also playing to their own constituencys. Obviously China fears the Dalai Lama.If thats the case he must be doing something right. Meebe they feel he might be the flame that might ignite the tinderbox that china could well become…

  53. May be something is about to happen. I really don’t know that.
    But to me, it seems like a fatasy I used to enjoy long before.
    Instead of discouraging lamas from politics, i would like them to engage more active in politics.

    I suggest you to spend more time with monks and lamas. Then you will have better understanding about them.

  54. “Do you think that if we came together unitedly under a freedom Banner the chinese would give it to us. It would just harden their stance.”

    no guarantee. freedom is not free therefore we should stop entertaining defeatist views. greater our objective greater our sacrifice shall be and greater our sacrifice greater our determinitation will be and greater our determination more likely we shall erode the ground on which the enemy stands.
    lesser our objective lesser our sacrifice shall be and lesser our sacrifice more likely we shall be induced to give it up.
    we need to work on to break their resolve, not strengthen it by playing upto its evil designs. that only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. if a strike at the spot where it hurts most fails then all other means shall fail.

    needless to say HH’s contribution to our cause is immense but i shall never forgive him giving up tibetan independence–the one and only goal which united us until 1987…the reason to be in exile…the one and only goal worthy of living for in pride and dying for in dignity.
    i lived among monks and lamas and even served them for several years but that’s not the point. the point here is to minimize religious influence in a tibetan world that is purely political. they can protest and demonstrate for freedom and we will fight for religious freedom too but…we have had lama govt from 13th century..with frequent sectarian persecutions, naive and inefficient clergy leaders holding on to status quo and some progress in the field of buddhist literature. enough of it.
    lets say we are all for autonomy with lots of support and sympathy from indians, chinese intellectuals, chinese citizens, and western countries and china fears the dalai lama and all the lamas! will this guarantee that enemy’s resolve will be weakened and voluntarily give us autonomy? will it soften their stance? where do we stand today with dialogues, negotiations, compromise since 1974? what have we achieved in the past 26 years? most successful..proud refugees? that’s what we are here for in exile?

    well my friend we are not born with guarantees in life and must not lose sight of our ultimate goal however hard it might be. until and unless we are a threat to their position they have no reason to give us anything. once we become a constant effective threat to their existence only then they will release their holds and think of self preservation. when this happens freedom is not far away. that’s the experience of mankind.

  55. There’s some interesting discussion here on the role of the Dalai Lama as head of state which indicate that this issue is open for quite a bit of debate amoung Rangzen supporters.

    As non-Tibetan and British, I can only give my own view of such a monarch figure! Personally, I’m not a royalist, but now that it’s being mentioned, I think the British or Thai system could work quite well for Tibet, and I think it’s largely a system the Dalai Lama himself would approve of. Unlike the British Queen, the Dalai Lama has a spiritual legitimacy and if that was the case in the UK, I think the monarchy would be a lot more relevant here too.

    If the Dalai Lama was an unelected head of state (the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people) he would not take an active role in politics- a democratically elected government would do that. What he would do would represent the core values of Tibetan society and culture, and do much what he does now- travel the world, being an Ambassador for Tibet’s interests and developing friendships with other nations. He would also serve as the head of religious affairs in Tibet.

    Of course, with religion and politics so closely connected in Tibet, he would also be a politcal advisor of sorts (as are the Queen and the Thai king) and would be consulted by politicians for this advice, plus he could step in to restart democratic proceedings if elected governments proved corrupt (this often happens in Thailand)
    But when it comes to the political parties, I think laypeople would have to play a bigger role to make these parties more representative.

    In any case, the idea of the Dalai Lama as this kind of head of state with an elected government making the political decisions sounds like a progressive one, and one which would work better in a Tibetan context than it does in a British one.

  56. When it comes down to the wire…there is nothing in the history of Tibet or many other countries which indicates that any of the tibetans will have a say, by way of a vote,what the role of HH will be in a real government. If you think that your discussions are influencing the process then by all means carry on. I feel that it will happen with little input and decisions will be made behind closed doors

  57. I agree with our British friend.
    And also I would like to thank everybody for sharing your views.

    Considering Middle Way as defeatism is not a good judgement. Middle way itself has many advantages. I hope you know all those advantages better than me. I understand that Rangzen has also many advantages. And both have disadvantages as well.

    Then think which suits best at the given situation. In battlefield, retreating itself is a tactic, not cowardice.

    There are three words which dominate chess game; ATTACK, BLOCK and RETREAT. And the person who can use these three tactics wisely, not indiscriminately, will be a winner ultimately.


  58. Michael Brazel,
    the point u made is the one that one mustn’t miss….people should have the right to choose..be it anything..but it is importnat that they choose for themselves and not others.
    what is the point playing with definitatioons of democracy or orange or apple…when one can’t get the essence.

  59. an invitation for all of you to join the following on facebook. throw your precious comments/questions and ask your friends to do the same. big thanks.

    KALON TRIPA 2011

  60. td
    retreating in the battle field is a tactic to win but to win what is the million dollar question and therefore is not as same as changing goals..independence to autonomy. that’s a faulty analogy.

    why are these two goals politically diametrically so opposite to each other made to mean and sound the same? are they confused themselves or trying to confuse our public?

    independence…sovereign state/nation..not part of china.
    autonomy….a part of china

    yes that simple. period.

  61. Middle path -> Freedom -> Happiness.
    Rangzen -> Independence -> Happiness.

    M.Happiness = R.Happiness !!SIMPLE!!


  62. TD,
    stick to political concepts rather than slide into something way too subjective where a baby sitter is happy to continue to be a baby sitter her whole life despite winning a mega million. you belong to a world of dharma bums! not here with people whose feet are on the ground and with hot blood running into their system.

  63. To Tenpa lak,
    Please visit http://www.tibet.net and you will know the difference between independence and freedom. And aslo you will know what kind of freedom is demanding from PRC.

    To Mila Rangzen lak,
    Though my feet are firmly on the ground and the hot blood is running in my system, still I know I am not belonged to your group. I don’t know whether I have any similarity with that group you called as Dharma Bums.

  64. I believe that the purpose of this article is to make a case that creating a political party is legally possible under exile charter even though there is no specific provision in it.
    Jamnor la “never” thought of creating a political party nor he saw its feasibility the main reason being ‘physically dispersed’ . “I’m afraid we’re not quite there yet” he says. “One fundamental problem that sticks out is the logistical one of setting up a genuinely democratic and participatory political organization in an exile society physically dispersed all over the Indian subcontinent, and these days, the world. Of course, I never saw myself launching any political party from my solitary retreat in the Appalachian mountain, but when I said I was going to write a Part III to the “Waiting for Mangtso” essay, I did hope to be able to offer the readers some practical solution to this question.”
    This article should be a big disappointment for those who waited a clear process for creating political party system in exile governance. Instead it turned out that this is “But how do we go about creating this national discussion or dialogue?” redirecting all the feelings and ambitions of creating a political party to the Rangzen Alliance where you have to agree a set number of rules, the top-down approach, a major turn off.

  65. just a very small experience i’d like to share…was reminded by the title of this essay.

    i had my entrance interview in a univ of high study on the topic of tibet. the prof asked me why tibet is imp to me when these guys ultimately do nothing but peace-prayer-marches!!! i told him that when two tramps sitting on a roadside waiting for some godot can have so much meaning as to have translated in 16 languages, and staged world over, why can’t the tibetan thing be meaningful for us(non tibetans). i asked the prof to tune in the frequecy of his Being with the tibetan cause…
    we all are waiting for our godots/mangsto. sad enough the tibetan godot cannot come by itself, the tramps have to go, fight and free it
    (i got the admission)

  66. Applied for Rangzen Membership just a while ago.
    Feels good to be at last taking concrete steps to act on my belief – Rangzen. 🙂

    Look forward to participating in the on-line discussion forum of rangzen advocates and activists. 🙂


  67. Hi jamyang norbu la,
    Thank you so much doing all these for Tibetan course,You are a true inspiration to all the younger generation of Tibetans…
    Your Articles are so good…
    keep up the good work..

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