Tibet’s Democracy that Never Was and Never Will Be

April 11, 2017

There are many misleading claims about Tibet. To understand what I mean, Google “Tibet’s Democracy in Exile,” but the historical facts support that Tibet has never been a republic and/or a democracy in its entire history.

One example of a misleading media report said, “Being a Tibetan in exile is a loss that manifests in many forms: the loss of homeland and natural rights fall within that.”

What were the natural rights that were lost?

Most Tibetans in exile (about one-percent of the total Tibetan population) gave up their rights and about ninety-nine percent of the population known as serfs that were often treated no better than slaves. The serfs were left behind as the one-percent who owned the land and held the wealth fled.

Before 1950, when Mao’s Red army reoccupied Tibet for China, there had been no democracy or republic in Tibet in its entire history.

The following quotes show us what Tibet was like before 1950.

“Lamaism is the state religion of Tibet and its power in the Hermit Country is tremendous. Religion dominated every phase of life. … For instance, in a family of four sons, at least two, generally three, of them must be Lamas. Property and family prestige also naturally go with the Lamas to the monastery in which they are inmates.

“Keeping the common people or laymen, in ignorance is another means of maintaining the power of the Lamas. Nearly all of the laymen (serfs) are illiterate. Lamas are the only people who are taught to read and write.”  – October 1912 National Geographic Magazine, page 979.

Under theocratic Lamaism, there was no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and no one voted.

Between 1912, when those words appeared in National Geographic, and 1950, Tibet did not change. The only difference was that there was no Chinese governor in Tibet appointed by the Emperor and supported by Chinese troops.

If the majority of Tibetans want to have self-rule, there’s nothing wrong with supporting a separatist movement as long as you know all of the accurate historical facts.

After all, there are at least eight known and active separatist movements in the United States: for instance, the Alaska Independence Party; Hawaiian sovereignty movement; Lakotah Oyate; Puerto Rico Independence Party; League of the South; Texas Secession Movement; Second Vermont Republic, and the Cascadia Independence Movement.

In fact, Tibetans have about the same odds to be free from China as Hawaiians and the Lakota Sioux have of being free of the United States.

It is a historical fact that a reluctant Tibet was ruled over by the Yuan (Mongol), Ming (Han) and Qing (Manchu) Dynasties from 1277 to 1913, when Great Britain convinced Tibet to break from China at the same time the Qing Dynasty was collapsing. Between 1913 and 1950, Tibet was ruled by a Dalai Lama and was an autocratic theocracy, not a democracy. In case you don’t know, a theocracy is a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god. In Tibet’s case, his holiness the Dalai Lama is often called a “God-King”.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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