By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 19 September 2018
The president of the Dhotoe Cholkha Welfare Society expressed sadness and frustration over the lack of any response to their petition to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) asking whether their organisation or the Chushi Gangdruk in Delhi is the legitimate one to represent the Kham people.
Speaking during a press conference, Thupten Lekshey, the President of the McLeod Ganj-based organisation which claims to be the legitimate representative of the Khampa people, said that their petition was submitted to the Secretariat of the CTA on 11 June, with a follow-up on 7 September, but they still have not received any reply.
He lamented that when the Delhi-based rival claimant complained about their participation in a workshop on the Middle-Way Policy which was organised by the Department of Information and International Relations of the CTA, that organisation received a reply within days.
Lekshey said that the reply to the rival organisation by the CTA has implications: That CTA, by apologising to the Delhi-based Chushi Gangdruk for inviting McLeod-based Dhotoe Cholkha, and by giving more importance to Chushi Gangdruk by responding to their complaint, amounts to derecognising Dhotoe Cholkha Welfare Society as a legitimate organisation.
Claiming as the legitimate Chushi Gangdruk, Lekshey’s group also use the two crossed swords, one of them in flames, logo.
The original Khampa organisation was founded by Andruk Gonpo Tashi, a businessman of Lithang, in 1958. It was called Chushi Gangdruk, or the “Four Rivers, Six Ranges”, and consisted mainly of Tibetan guerrilla fighters who had attempted to stop the invasion by the People’s Republic of China. It is the members of this organisation that brought the Dalai Lama out of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to safety in India in 1959.
After coming into exile, Chushi Gangdruk established its headquarters in Majnu ka Tilla in Delhi, with the majority of the Khampas in exile supporting the organisation.
In 1994, some of the leaders of this group signed a three-point pact with the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission of the Republic of China (Kuomintang in Taiwan), agreeing to the Commissions’ One-China Principle.
Angered by the signing, the Dalai Lama referred the issue to the Cabinet and exile Parliament, after he was informed by the Khampas who had signed the pact. It was felt that the signing challenged the authority of the exile Tibetan administration.
CTA then suggested a referendum among the people of Kham to decide whether they agreed to the pact. A whopping 99% of the Khampas rejected the pact, and new executive members of the Chushi Gangdruk were elected. CTA then issued an acceptance letter on 25 October 1994 to these newly-elected members as the legitimate Chushi Gangdruk.
Lekshey said that the group he is leading, the Dhotoe Cholka Welfare Society, is the one that was accepted by the CTA at that time to be the legitimate representative of the Khampas.
He said that the Delhi group is opposed to CTA, and that some of the members defame Ganden Phodrang, the Office of the Dalai Lama, as bringing discord within the Tibetan community.
Explaining that the issue is not about a fight between two Khampa groups, or about power, Lekshey said, “Ours is a fight for the Tibetan cause. We support and have full allegiance to the Central Tibetan Administration.”
Now that CTA has replied to the complaint from Delhi group, Lekshey is hopeful that CTA will reply to their petition as well.
“We have been seeing that some ministers of CTA are openly saying that we have no recognition by CTA. The time has come for the CTA to declare which according to them is the legitimate Chushi Gangdruk.”