The Dalai Lama, democracy promoter
Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, writes,
Now that the White House has announced that President Obama will receive the Dalai Lama, it is important that he be welcomed not only as a moral and religious leader respected throughout the world but also as a fellow democrat who shares America’s deepest values.
This is not an aspect of the Dalai Lama that is well understood, especially by those who see him as the spiritual leader of a traditional people. Yet he is a devoted democrat who has defended the universality of the democratic idea against the “Asian values” argument of various autocrats and who has tried, even before he fled Tibet in 1959, to modernize Tibet’s system of government…
once in exile he proceeded almost immediately to introduce a democratic system for Tibetans living in India. The first elections among Tibetan refugees were held in the summer of 1960, only months after the Dalai Lama arrived in Dharamsala. A democratic constitution was promulgated in 1963 on the fourth anniversary of the Lhasa uprising.
Today the Tibetan community in exile is governed by an elected National Assembly overseen by an independent judiciary, as permissible by Indian law. A charter adopted by the assembly in 1991 transferred from the Dalai Lama to that body the power to elect the cabinet, including a prime minister vested with day-to-day powers. In 1992, the Dalai Lama announced new guidelines for Tibet’s future that, pending a negotiated settlement with the Chinese government, give the major responsibility for determining Tibet’s governance to the Tibetans living in Tibet. That responsibility, in his view, should include even the power to determine whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue to exist.
One more reason that a man with no guns terrifies the oligarchs in Beijing.