On 19 September, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy submitted a petition concerning the proposal to reform Tibetan electoral system to each chithue (Members of Tibetan parliament-in-exile) ahead of the 4th Session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
The two-page petition includes the opinions and suggestions collected from the Tibetan public during the democracy awareness tour organised jointly by TCHRD with Tibetan Women’s Association in July 2017. Opinions were collected via open public discussions and written surveys under the ‘Mangtso: Tibetan Democracy Awareness Tour’. A USB flash drive, which contains the video recordings of all public discussions, was also presented along with the petition to all parliamentarians.
TCHRD staff Ms Tenzin Dawa, Mr Tenzin Nyima and Mr Trisong Dorjee stood outside the parliament building on the morning of 19 September and handed the petition to the parliamentarians. On 18 September, TCHRD staff also delivered the petition to the parliamentary standing committee members including the speaker and the deputy speaker of the parliament. https://youtu.be/BRhbrYfepvE
The ‘Mangtso’ tour covered Tibetan communities located in Dehra Dun, Delhi, Bangalore, Bylakuppe, Mundgod and Orissa. The 15 questions included in the survey were based on four different sources. While preparing the survey questionnaire, TCHRD referred to the remarks made by a delegation of NGO representatives and election experts who observed the 2015 primary Tibetan election and the report published by the International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (InPAT). The contents of the survey questionnaire and the public discussions held during the awareness tour also benefitted from the careful study of the draft electoral reform proposal prepared by the Tibetan Electoral Review Committee as well as the two-day discussion on Tibetan democracy organised by TCHRD in June 2016.
Close to 300 people participated in the survey and more chose to speak on camera during the public discussion. Although survey is a random sampling of public opinion and not an all-encompassing referendum, it nevertheless represents the choices, expectations and opinions of the public who is the ultimate source of power in a democracy. Some of the findings of the survey reveal that a little over 74% respondents agree that the current practice of holding two rounds of election for sikyong (political leader) and chithues should be continued while more than 74% suggested that the time taken to declare the primary election results be shortened.
TCHRD is hopeful that the respective members of Tibetan parliament-in-exile will give due consideration to issues and opinions raised by the Tibetan public in the petition, and thereby help accelerate the electoral reform process. It is also hoped that the electoral reforms will pave way for greater democratic reforms in the near future given that many of the suggestions and opinions put forward by the public and pressure groups also concern proposed amendments to the Tibetan Charter.
TCHRD is a registered NGO founded in 1996 with the two-fold mission to promote and protect the human rights of the Tibetan people in Tibet and educate the exile Tibetan community on the principles and concepts of human rights and democracy. In addition to undertaking regular, systematic investigation of human rights situation in Tibet, the centre holds awareness and advocacy campaigns aimed at building a strong and resilient democracy that promotes respect for human rights and rule of law, free and fair elections, democratic governance and public participation.