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Section D: The Tibetan Government-in-Exile Is The Only Legitimate Government Of Tibet

'Nothing illustrates [the] dynamic aspect of the continuity of the occupied State better than the existence and activity of exiled governments or, as is sometimes more radically said, States in exile.' The first notable examples took place during the First World War, when the governments and armies of occupied States, such as those of Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro, continued to exist on foreign soil. During the Second World War, an even larger number of governments of States occupied by German and Italian forces, including those of the Netherlands, Norway, Yugoslavia, and Greece, carried on their activities in London. Sir Arnold McNair formulated the accepted view thus:

The mere fact that a foreign Government has been deprived of the control of a part or the whole of its territory by an enemy in no way invalidates legislation passed or other acts of sovereignty done by it outside its normal territory.... There is no principle of International law which says that a Government cannot act validly upon foreign territory with the consent of the local sovereign.

In March 1959, the various Tibetan resistance movements' activities and the growing popular resentment to Chinese rule culminated in an open revolt in Lhasa and the surrounding areas. Starting on March 10, daily mass meetings were held in Lhasa, calling on the Chinese to quit Tibet and to restore Tibet's full independence. While Tibetan guerrilla troops consolidated their positions in South and East Tibet, Lhasans, their ranks swelled by east-Tibetan refugees and soldiers, staged mass demonstrations. Government officials held meetings and issued proclamations, including one in the name of the Cabinet, repudiating the Seventeen-Point Agreement and proclaiming Tibet's full independence. Open fighting broke out in Lhasa soon afterwards. Detailed descriptions of the revolt are readily available from Tibetan, Chinese, Indian and Western sources. The PLA put down the revolt in a relatively short time, but casualties were high. Around 90,000 Tibetans were killed and as many fled the country, while tens of thousands were imprisoned. The Dalai Lama and most of his ministers managed to escape in the night of March 17, arriving in India two weeks later.

On 28 March 1959, as soon as the Chinese forces had regained control over Lhasa, Premier Zhou Enlai issued an Order of State Council dissolving the Government of Tibet. The Order stated, in part:

In order to safeguard the unification of the country and national unity, in addition to enjoining the Tibet Military Area Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army to put down the rebellion thoroughly, the decision is that from this day the Tibet Local Government is dissolved...

The Dalai Lama and his ministers, en route to the Indian border, reacted promptly by formally inaugurating a Provisional Government in Lhutse Dzong, to be the sole legitimate government of an independent Tibet. As for the new administration in Lhasa, the Dalai Lama claimed that it was totally controlled by the Chinese and that the people of Tibet would never recognize it. Upon his arrival in India, the Dalai Lama declared: 'Wherever I am, accompanied by my government, the Tibetan people recognize us as the Government of Tibet.'

In India the Dalai Lama lost no time in establishing an effective government-in-exile. At first, this consisted of his cabinet, the Kashag, with six portfolios: Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Religion and Culture, Education, Finance, and Security. A bureau was opened in New Delhi to serve as the link with the Indian Government, foreign diplomatic missions, and the various international relief agencies. Offices were subsequently opened in New York, Geneva, Kathmandu, Gangtok, and later in Tokyo, London, Paris, Moscow, Canberra, and Budapest to act as unofficial embassies for the government-in-exile.

In 1960, the Dalai Lama called the first democratic elections for a newly created representative body, the Commission of People's Deputies. A year later he announced the outline for a new democratic constitution, and on 10 March 1963, the Dalai Lama promulgated the 'Constitution of Tibet,' an instrument combining principles of Buddhism with popular democracy.

The Constitution, in its Preliminary Articles, specifically recognizes the supremacy of international law, the United Nations Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and renounces the use of force as an instrument of national policy. The main body of the document provides for a system of government not unlike a constitutional monarchy, with the executive power vested in the Head of State, the Dalai Lama, and the Kashag; the legislative authority vested in the elected National Assembly; and the judicial authority in an independent Supreme Court.

Under the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, adopted in 1991, a smaller elected body, the Commission of People's Deputies, essentially fulfills the function of a parliament in exile. Below the Kashag, the government functions are now organized under the following departments: the Councils for Home Affairs, for Religious and Cultural Affairs and for Education, the Finance office, the Security Office and the Information Office, and the Departments of Health, of Service Management, and of Audit. In 1993, an independent judiciary was established with jurisdiction (within the bounds permitted by Indian law) to resolve disputes between Tibetans. The government is financed primarily by a voluntary tax from the refugees around the world and from Tibetan business organizations, as well as by small enterprises run by the Finance Office. The government established or encouraged the establishment of a number of institutions to preserve and promote the Tibetan heritage and to enhance the exile community's cultural life.

The Tibetan Government-In-Exile effectively administers all affairs pertaining to refugees in India and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere. Furthermore, the Dalai Lama's Government enjoys a special status in India. New Delhi, for example, refers all matters relating to Tibetan refugees to Dharamsala or, at least, handles them in consultation with the exile government. International governmental or non-governmental agencies also work with the Dharamsala administration. More importantly, the Dalai Lama's government is looked upon by the Tibetan people, in Tibet as well as in exile, as their only legitimate government, and the one representing their interests.

The Dalai Lama's objective, to reconstruct a viable and even successful community in exile, has succeeded remarkably well. Indeed, the Tibetans have been called 'the world's most well settled refugees,' and Professor Michael concludes:

In India, the Tibetan policy, its settlements, its enterprises, and its religious political structure have not only flourished but have transformed and developed from the prototype in Tibet into an active part of the modern world.

The Tibetan Government-in-Exile is not a new body established outside the territory of Tibet, but the continuation of the legitimate and recognized Government of Tibet in Lhasa. In exile, the Dalai Lama's Government has functioned, and still functions, effectively to the extent that this is possible on foreign soil and without official political recognition.

(On to II.E, Conclusions Regarding The Legal Status Of Tibet -->)

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