13:28, April 22, 2008
Under the political system combining religion with politics and despotic rule by feudal estate-holders in old Tibet, the Dalai Lama was one of the leaders of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and also head of the Tibetan local government. He held both political and religious power. The official system of the former Tibetan local government was a dual one of monk and lay officials. In the administrative organs, there were both monk and lay officials, with the former higher than the latter in rank. But there were monk officials in some organizations. Monasteries enjoyed special jurisdiction in handling political affairs. Abbots of the three major monasteries (Gandan, Sera and Zhaibung) and the four large ones (Gundeling, Dangyailing, Cemoinling and Cejoiling) participated in all "enlarged meetings of officials" to discuss important events. Resolutions adopted at the meetings became effective only when they bore the stamps of the local government and the three major monasteries.
The Democratic Reform in 1959 put an end to the political system of combining religious with political rule and introduced the new political system of people's democracy. Under the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the Tibetan people, like the people of various nationalities throughout the country, have become masters of the country and enjoy full political rights provided for by the law.
Citizens of the Tibet Autonomous Region who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and to stand for election, regardless of their ethnic status, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status, or length of residence. They can directly vote for deputies to the people's congresses of counties, districts, townships and towns. These deputies can in turn elect deputies to the national, autonomous regional and municipal people's congresses. The people exercise the power of managing the state and local affairs through the people's congresses at all levels. The political enthusiasm of the Tibetan people is high because they have obtained the right to be masters of their own affairs. They have actively exercised their rights. Statistics of Lhasa, Nagqu, Xigaze, Nyingchi and Shannan on the elections for deputies to the Fifth People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1988 show that 93.88 percent of the people there voted. To enable illiterates to participate, beans were used in place of ballots in many places. Voters placed beans in the bowls behind the back of the candidates of their choice. Those with the most beans went into office. Currently, deputies of the local ethnic minorities, with Tibetans as the main force, account for over 95 percent of the total local deputies to the people's congresses at the district and county levels and the figure is over 82 percent for those to the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Most of the current chairmen of the Standing Committees of the people's congresses of the 75 counties (cities and districts) in the autonomous region used to be serfs or slaves in old Tibet.
The Tibetan Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was set up in Tibet in 1959 to ensure that people of all social strata and of all walks of life can fully voice their opinions and play their roles in social and political life. The CPPCC, an organization of the broadest patriotic united front under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, is an important political organization conducting political consultation, implementing mutual supervision and developing socialist democracy. Its role has been brought into full play in Tibet. The CPPCC Tibetan Committee has drawn on the participation of the people of all social strata from Tibetan and other ethnic groups. Many of them were patriotic monk and secular officials of the former local government of Tibet and upper-class religious figures. They include Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, the Great Living Buddha of Qamdo Prefecture, who is now vice-chairman of the CPPCC National Committee and vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region; and Lhalu Cewang Doje, a former Tibetan noble man and a Galoin of the Tibetan local government, who is currently vice-chairman of the CPPCC Tibetan Committee. Through the political consultative conferences, these people have participated in the discussion and management of state affairs and helped the government in making decisions. Their motions raised at past conferences have involved ethnic groups, religion, culture and education, science and technology, public health, agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, urban and rural construction and environmental protection. They have played an important role in safeguarding the unification of the motherland, strengthening national unity, opposing national separation, inheriting and developing traditional national culture, speeding up development of Tibetan economy, and promoting reform and opening up.
Tibet practices regional national autonomy in accordance with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. In March 1955, the central government decided to set up the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. In September 1965, the First Session of the First People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region was held in Lhasa and the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region was officially announced. Most deputies of the Tibetan nationality to the congress were emancipated serfs and slaves, as well as patriots from the upper strata and religious figures. At the congress, Ngapoi Nagwang Jigme was elected chairman of the People's Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Having smashed the yoke of the feudal serfdom, the broad masses of serfs and slaves obtained political and national equal rights.
The Law of the People's Republic of China Governing Regional National Autonomy stipulates, "People's congresses in the areas of national autonomy have the right to formulate regulations on the exercise of autonomy or specific regulations in accordance with the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the local nationalities." In accordance with the rights bestowed by the Law Governing Regional National Autonomy, the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region has since 1965 formulated more than 60 local rules and regulations, decrees, decisions and resolutions, involving political, economic, cultural and educational aspects, which conform to the reality of Tibet and maintain the interests of Tibetan people. They include the Rules of Procedures of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Procedures on Formulating Local Laws and Regulations for the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Measures for the Management of Mining by Collective Mining Enterprises and Individuals in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Resolutions on Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan Language in the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Protection and Management of Cultural Relics, and the Accommodation Rules for the Implementation of the Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China. The formulation and implementation of these local rules and regulations have furnished an important legal guarantee to the realization of democratic rights for the Tibetan people and to the development of local social, economic and cultural undertakings.
To enable the Tibetan people to better perform the right to manage state and local affairs, the central government has attached great weight to the training of cadres of Tibetan nationality. Currently, there are 37,000 cadres of Tibetan nationality in the Tibet Autonomous Region. All the main leading posts in the people's congresses, governments and people's political consultative conferences at various levels are filled by Tibetans. Cadres of Tibetan nationality account for 66.6 percent of the total in Tibet, 71.7 percent at the regional level and 74.8 percent at the county level. Tibetan women were in the lowest echelon of society in old Tibet. Today, many of them hold leading posts, accounting for upwards of 30 percent of the cadres in the autonomous region in 1986. At present, five have become cadres at the regional level, 38 at the prefectural level and 232 at the county level. Most Tibetan cadres are emancipated serfs and slaves. There are also some patriots from the upper class. Appropriate arrangements have also been made even for those serf-owners and their agents who participated in the rebellion, giving them the chance to contribute to the state and people if they renounce their reactionary stand and possess real skills.
In judicial activities, in addition to enjoying equal legal rights with the people in other parts of the country, the Tibetan people have also been granted special rights stipulated in the Law of the People's Republic of China Governing Regional National Autonomy. The People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region stipulates, "People's courts and procuratorates at various levels must guarantee the right of Tibetan citizens to use their own national language to enter a lawsuit. In cases involving the Tibetans, Tibetan language should be used in doing procuratorial work and hearing cases, and legal documents should be written in the Tibetan language." At present, the main officials of the procuratorates and courts at all levels in Tibet are Tibetan citizens.
Excerpts from Tibet -- Its Ownership And Human Rights Situation published by Information Office of the State Council of The People's Republic of China