An Open Letter to the Sikyong, Kashag, and Election Commissioner of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, India


We, the undersigned 27 long-time Tibet Supporters, are writing to you to express our concern about several recent events relating to the current Tibetan Election processes.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has worked tirelessly to implement democracy in the Tibetan polity and has expressed many times the personal and national satisfaction felt in his voluntarily turning over political control to elected officials, stating in his retirement message: "Contrary to the system of the Chinese Communists' authoritarian rule in Tibet, our small community in exile has been able to establish a complete modern democratic system. In the long run this decision will make our exile administration stronger and efficient. [...] This is our glorious achievement. Tibetans inside Tibet should be proud of this achievement."

We are very appreciative of his work in this regard and the import of his retirement message, which states that every Tibetan in exile has the right to participate in free and fair elections of officials entrusted not only with the duty of governance in exile but also charged with the higher responsibility of working for a better future for the long-suffering nation of Tibet. In particular we believe that every Tibetan has the right to hold and express their view as to the future of Tibet.

We are therefore concerned that:

The problems that may arise from such undemocratic practices are many and serious. By providing means for incumbents to silence opponents before the polls open and to arbitrarily and retroactively make decisions on key rules, the Central Tibetan Administration risks becoming regarded by its people, the host nation of India, its international support base, and the international community, as an undemocratic body unworthy of trust. Even more seriously, such practices leave open the possibility of CTA posts being taken by people who become unaccountable to a free and fair popular vote and therefore able to act without the approval - or even against the will - of the Tibetan people.

The continuing support for the Tibetan cause by ourselves and many others worldwide is, partly but significantly, based on the Central Tibetan Administration honoring both the spirit and practice of His Holiness's efforts to implement true democracy in the Tibetan polity, signified by an irreproachable public trust in free, fair, non-partisan election processes. We urge you to make early (i.e. before the Preliminary election) positive responses to all our concerns outlined above.

His Holiness and the CTA have, on many occasions, requested all the world to help Tibet, and expressed their appreciation for the assistance given by Tibet Supporters and Tibet Support Groups around the world - we who answered the call. That continuing support should not be wholly taken for granted.


John Ackerly, Former President, International Campaign for Tibet, USA

Anders Højmark Andersen, Member of Tibet Support Committee, Denmark

Agurtzane Berasarte, Co-Founder and General Secretary, Phagma Drolma Association for Solidarity for the Tibetan People, Basque Country

Christophe Besuchet, Co-Founder, Comité de Soutien au Peuple Tibétain, Switzerland

Alan Cantos, CAT - Comite de Apoyo al Tibet, Spain

Philippa Carrick, Chief Executive Officer, Tibet Society, UK

Jack Churchward, Former CACCP Coordinator, USA

Florence Cotte, Militante Pour Un Tibet Libre, France

Monika Deimann-Clemens, 24 years TSG Germany; Tibet Flag Campaign, Germany

Angela Dempster-Passang, Member of SFT New Zealand, University of Otago Chapter, New Zealand

Dan Haig, Founder of Tibet Online, Past-President of Committee of 100 for Tibet, USA

Eva Herzer, Former President, Tibet Justice Center, USA

John Hocevar, Founder of Students for a Free Tibet and Former Co-Chairman of International Tibet Support Network (ITSN), USA

Jeff Inglis, Member of Tibet Justice Center, USA

Neville Jacobs, Member of Tibet Committee of Fairbanks, USA

Blake Kerr MD, Independent Human Rights Investigator, USA

Linda Mancini, Member of Boston Tibet Network, USA

José Elias Esteve Moltó, Main Research Lawyer and Author of Tibet Lawsuits, Professor of International Law, University of Valencia, Spain

Olivier Mores, Co-Founder and Honorary President, Les Amis du Tibet, Luxembourg

Rebecca Novick, Former President, Board Member and Consultant, Los Angeles Friends of Tibet; Founding Producer, The Tibet Connection; Country of Origin Information Expert on Tibet for Fahamu Refugee Programme, USA

Anthony O'Brien, Co-Founder of TSG-Ireland, Co-Founder of ECO-Tibet, Ireland

Jean-Paul Ribes, President, Comité de Soutien au Peuple Tibétain, France

Conrad Richter, Former Editor of World Tibet News (WTN), Canada

Sandra Ross, Director, Member of US Tibet Committee, USA

Elliot Sperling, Professor of Tibetan Studies, Indiana University, USA

Neil Steedman, Founder Chairman of TSG-Ireland, Co-Founder of ITSN, Member of Committee of 100 for Tibet, Ireland

Giovanni Vassallo, President of Bay Area Friends of Tibet, Past-President of Committee of 100 for Tibet, USA