Tibet: The Exiles’ Journey

Issue Date July 2003
Volume 14
Issue 3
Page Numbers 119-130
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Why was democracy introduced to Tibetan diaspora? I argue and document from Tibetan sources that the Dalai Lama, reflecting aspirations of exile Tibetans to end the traditional theocratic/feudal system, initiated relative democratization of the exile government of Tibet in 1960 and continued to the present. The endeavor was intriguingly aided by Chinese Marxist propaganda, host India, Western influence and internal Buddhist sectarian and regional skirmishes. Finally, I argue that the historical flaws in the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation system and regency practice may be rectified, and Tibetan national freedom movement strengthened, if the Tibetan democratic process continues.

About the Author

Lobsang Sangay┬áis a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School and an editorial consultant for Radio Free Asia. An earlier version of this essay was presented at an April 2002 Harvard University conference on “The Cold War and Its Legacy in Tibet: Great-Power Politics and Regional Security.”

View all work by Lobsang Sangay