Eradicate the 10 parliamentary seats reserved for the clergy NOW

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Mila Rangzen
Mila Rangzen signed this petition

Tibetan Democracy in Exile has evolved with time since its inception in 1960. Moreover, in 2010 we celebrated 50 years of democracy in exile but ironically with two major Bylakuppe Tibetan settlements having no local assembly, unlike the smaller settlements. Unfortunately, members of the parliament are quiet on this shortcoming that calls for action even though they frequently lecture us on the importance of grassroots local assembly. Their silence is deafening.  

The charter is the supreme law governing the functions of exile Tibetan administration. It is based on the spirit of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and hence it is supposed to guarantee equality, and yet 22% of the parliamentary seats are reserved for the clergy who already enjoys the right to stand for election and to vote in/through the three Cholkhas or provincial tickets. 

Tibetan people across the settlements have time and again raised their voice against this system of inequality in political representation but to no avail. No substantive push to rectify this inequality in the parliament and the charter has ever been made for the past six decades in exile. The Tibetan parliament in exile is an unhealthy mixed entity of politics and religions. It is a legacy of the old feudal Tibet that was theocratic, inefficient and oppressive. 

Out of 45 parliamentary seats, ten are reserved for monks and nuns. That is 22% of the parliamentary seats are allocated to the clergy. Nowhere in the democratic world does this kind of gross, systematic invasion and occupation of a political realm by the clergy occur. This is such an unhealthy system because it gets in the way of a complete secularization of the Tibetan parliament. For example, Bhutan and Sri Lanka bar religious personnel from participation in politics.  

We believe religion and politics should never be mixed in any branch of the Tibetan democratic government or administration. In history, Tibet witnessed frequent sectarian conflicts, power struggle, and bloodshed under such a system. We do not want history to repeat itself. We want to prevent it now because prevention is always better than cure.

Speech on Tibetan unity is excellent but what is greater is introducing structural changes in the charter on the composition and character of the parliamentary system that ensures political unity in action.  Also, the Buddha left the palace and politics in search of peace and enlightenment. Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns and the clergy of Bon should also quit politics for their spiritual illumination. 

We have always look toward the monks as a model of ethical human behavior. However, unfortunately, we are thoroughly disappointed by their frequent display of anger, hatred, jealousy, aggression, and meanness in the parliament to those who have a different point of view or to those who represent different provinces.
This kind of tribalistic behavior with a vicious mindset on the part of the monk parliamentarians is divisive and therefore unacceptable.  

On the contrary, the lay Tibetan parliamentarians are far more calm, open, objective and disciplined in their approach to thrashing out the differences on issues that concern us all. Also, the monk parliamentarians' inappropriate behavior and outrageous display of negative inflammatory emotions incite both regional and sectarian tension in the Tibetan world and even damage the reputation of the Buddhist monastic institutions. 

We appeal to you the Tibetan parliamentary speaker, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Eminence Karmapa, His Eminence Sakya Trizin, His Eminence Menri Trizin, and the Nyingma Head and all other religious heads to intervene and help in the effort to eradicate the ten parliamentary seats reserved for the clergy.  

We appeal to the members of the exile parliament to come to their senses and vote for the eradication of the old feudal ten religious seats in the charter to pave the way for a secular, just and harmonious political environment in the Tibetan world. Such an amendment to the charter will prevent the compromisation of both our political and spiritual worlds.  

We also appeal to the secular democratic governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and India to exert pressure on the Central Tibetan Administration to bring about an exile parliament free from religious representation and sectarian conflicts.  

If the clergy loves to join politics, they can always do so through the three regional representation system. 

In 2011 His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved all of his political power to the elected leaders symbolically separating religion from politics, yet we still have 22%  of the parliamentary seats reserved for the clergy, who by religious laws and vows have renounced worldly matters for attaining speedy enlightenment for the greater benefit of all the sentient beings.   

We believe in Tibet where the separation of state and religion is absolute. Therefore, we the undersigned demand your intervention in the total eradication of the ten seats reserved for the monks and nuns in the charter to pave the way for the equality in representation and also for the complete secularization of the exile Tibetan Parliament.

Respectfully,

milarangzen@gmail.com