Remarks by Acting Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia Ann Marie Yastishock at the Office of Tibet’s Virtual Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

[As prepared]

Good morning and good evening, everyone. It’s my honor to be here.

Today we celebrate 60 years of democratic governance for the Tibetan people. This is truly a remarkable achievement, and is a testament to the strength and resilience of the people of Tibet.

Despite being scattered across the globe, Tibetans have perfected, advanced, and importantly—preserved—their democracy over the decades. But they have done so often under extreme hardship and life-threatening adversity.

Like all of you from around the world calling-in to this celebration, the United States knows that sound, democratic governance is the foundation for a life of happiness, a life of freedom, and a life of prosperity. 

Sound, Democratic Governance and Human Rights

Democracy is the very foundation of any society that respects the rights of all people, that advances human dignity, and that gives all citizens the opportunity to thrive. 

It is what gives each and every one of us here today the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest. Without democracy, none of us would be here today.

I am proud that for nearly 20 years, USAID has partnered with Tibetan communities in and around the Tibet Autonomous Region to help protect their threatened way of life and preserving their culture. And since 2012, we have intensified our partnership with the Central Tibetan Administration, or CTA, to help deliver essential services to Tibetan communities in India and Nepal and preserve their democratic gains.

Tibetan Democracy and the Central Tibetan Administration

The CTA has played a critical role over the years, representing Tibetans living in exile around the world, including here in the United States. The CTA provides all Tibetans with a functioning, representative democracy. And in a very real sense, the CTA helps strengthen Tibetan self-reliance, giving the people the resources and the opportunities they need to flourish.

I’d like to recognize the staff, the volunteers, and everyone at the CTA who has worked so hard to preserve Tibet’s democracy. Thanks to your steadfast commitment to your people, you have helped to build a democratic system that gives students the skills they need to succeed. You have helped protect the health of all Tibetans, even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And you have given a voice to Tibetans all around the world through the opportunity to vote. 

These are outstanding achievements. And without this kind of sound, citizen-responsive governance and without strong protection of human rights, it is impossible for citizens and communities like the Tibetan communities to achieve their full potential. 

Challenges to Democratic Institutions and Systems

Despite our hard work, democracies around the world are facing growing challenges. Authoritarianism and corruption threaten to constrict civil society, muzzle journalists, silence critics, and strip religious and minority groups of their most basic human rights. And puts private gain above the public interest, and feeds into the destruction of democratic gains. These kinds of actions have no place in democratic societies. 

We feel the impact of this approach on the Tibetan community. Many Tibetans face unwarranted years of imprisonment for their courageous work to preserve their culture.

Partnering for Democracy: Looking Ahead

If the past 60 years have taught us anything, it is that the people of Tibet are strong and they are resilient. 

The United States is committed to working hand-in-hand with the people of Tibet, as well as with our partner institutions like NDI, to further strengthen and preserve Tibetan democracy for generations to come. 

Congratulations on 60 years, and here’s to many more!

Thank you.

Last updated: September 02, 2020

Share This Page