A Harvard researcher, the new Tibetan premier takes over all the political functions exercised by the Dalai Lama for centuries as the ‘god-king’ of the mountain land. Fourteenth ‘Ocean of Wisdom,’ Nobel Peace Prize winner Tenzin Gyatso gave up temporal power about a month ago, but remains the spiritual leader and guide of Tibetan Buddhism.
The 43-year-old Sangay, who teaches at Harvard, won 55 per cent of the vote (of 49,189 voters who cast their ballot in the election held on 20 March), beating out Tethong Tenzin Namgyal, from Stanford University (who won 8,646 votes). Tashi Wangdi, representative of the Dalai Lama in Brussels, New York and Delhi, came in third.
Lobsang Sangay was the frontrunner before the vote. He had distinguished himself from Tibet’s spiritual leader by saying that Tibet’s complete independence from China was a possibility. By contrast, the Dalai Lama has always insisted on a large degree of autonomy from Beijing for his nation.
A former president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, which China considers a terrorist organisation, Sangay is now the target of Communist authorities.
“The so-called Tibet government-in-exile is an illegal political organisation set up overseas by the Dalai Lama to engage in Tibet independence activities,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. "No country in the world recognises this organisation," he added, without elaborating.
In the meantime, human rights groups are demanding justice for Jampa Tso, a nun from Badak Phuntsok Choeling Nunnery (one of the centres of anti-Chinese unrest in 2008).
She was “was on a large bridge in the [Derge] county seat calling for freedom for Tibet," said Jampel Monlam, spokesman for the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). "She was handing out leaflets” and “was beaten up by the police, and then [. . .] taken away."
Obviously, no one could get in touch with her. Her “family was told that Jampa Tso had committed a serious crime and that no one could talk to her under any circumstances,” he added. “However, all she did was to express her opinion, which is a right no one can deny.”