Ex-Chinese prisoner in race for Tibetan political leadership

Dharamsala, Aug 3 (IANS) Lukar Jam, a former political prisoner in China who escaped to India from Tibet, believes in full independence for his homeland rather than the policy of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which is advocating autonomy within China.

The 47-year-old Tibetan announced his candidature for the democratically elected post of Sikyong (political leader).

Jam became the second candidate after Tashi Wangdu, CEO of the Federation of Tibetan Cooperative Societies.

The tenure of Lobsang Sangay, the incumbent Sikyong, ends in August next year.

Polls to elect the new government-in-exile will be held on March 20, 2016. However, the preliminary election for the political leader and members of the 16th Tibetan parliament will be held on October 18.

“Tibetans are fiercely independent in nature and self-sufficient. Tibetans in exile are doing quite well because of the hard work of the older generations. Lack of long-term vision has obstructed political reforms,” Jam, the vice president of Gu Chu Sum, a Dharamsala-based organisation that supports former political prisoners, said in a statement.

“I am the first candidate to stand for the elections with a clear manifesto to fight for independence of Tibet as opposed to others who advocate autonomy within China,” he told IANS.

“We need to change the political status quo and wake up from this inferior attitude of having lost our nation and having to face existential uncertainty in exile,” he said.

The general election will elect the fourth political leader — earlier known as prime minister — and the 16th Tibetan parliament-in-exile, comprising 45 members.

The 47-year-old Harvard educated Lobsang Sangay is currently the political leader. He is also the political successor of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Ever since assuming power in August 2011, granting more autonomy in Tibet “within the Chinese constitution”, creating awareness on Tibet and educating the exiled youth are among the other crucial issues before Sangay.

He took over the reins of the government-in-exile from monk scholar Samdhong Rinpoche, who held the post for 10 years.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan administration is based in this northern Indian hill town.

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