Braving arrest by Chinese authorities, a group of Tibetans met secretly outside the Tibetan capital Lhasa this week to voice support for Tibet’s new exile prime minister Lobsang Sangay.
The group—including students, monks, farmers, nomads, and children from all regions of Tibet—recorded statements of congratulations, along with the sounds of cheering and applause, and sent the recording by telephone on Aug. 8 to an RFA Tibetan-language call-in show.
Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard-trained legal scholar who was elected to lead Tibet’s exile government based in Dharamsala, India, was sworn into office as the new kalon tripa (prime minister) that same day in an event attended by several thousand Tibetan refugees.
He immediately vowed to continue the “Middle Way” policy of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama—whose political duties he now assumes—in leading Tibet’s struggle for greater cultural, political, and religious freedom inside the PRC.
“I would like to wish Tashi Delek [good fortune] to all on this important occasion of Lobsang Sangay taking the oath of kalon tripa,” said one young man, a member of the group recorded in Tibet and speaking in the dialect of the country's central region.
“This is an unprecedented event in the past 2,000 years of Tibetan history,” he said. “We, the six million Tibetans living in Tibet, should never forget this day, but rejoice!”
Another man, speaking in the Amdo dialect of northeastern Tibet, expressed his happiness at the gathering of Sangay’s supporters, adding, “You all know how we suffer under China’s repression.”
“I am so happy to know that Lobsang Sangay was elected through the democratic process and has taken his oath of office,” a third man declared, saying that he had come from the city of Shigatse in Central Tibet.
“Now, I wish that Tibetans both living in Tibet and in exile may reunite soon inside Tibet,” he said.
One young man, a student, said that he had not gone to school that morning, and had gone instead “to the forest” to burn incense in celebration.
“[Lobsang Sangay’s] inauguration was more important than my classes,” he said.
“I am an ordinary monk,” another man said. “Many monks in different monasteries are rejoicing on this day of Lobsang Sangay’s taking his oath as kalon tripa.”
“I want to wish him success in implementing his policies and plans.”
Taking his oath of office on Monday, Lobsang Sangay noted that Tibetan democracy is “here to stay,” adding that Tibet’s struggle is “not against the Chinese people, or China as a country.”
“Our struggle is against the hardline policies of the Chinese regime in Tibet … against those who would deny freedom, justice, dignity, and the very identity of the Tibetan people,” Sangay said.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.