The hostile transformation that swept the whole of Tibet following its armed occupation by the Communist Chinese in 1959 had culminated into His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual and temporal leader, escaping from the impending dangers into exile, in India. His Holiness’s decision to seek asylum in India was mainly influenced by his firm determination to continue the struggle for regaining freedom for his people and preserving their distinct and unique cultural, religious and traditional heritage.
In view of providing immediate rehabilitation of the hundreds and thousands of people, who followed H.H. the Dalai Lama into exile and primarily to regain Tibet’s lost freedom, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile was established as a continuation to the legitimate Government in Tibet. More than forty-three years on, today the Tibetan refugees have emerged as the most successful and flourishing community among the refugee communities in the world. The Tibetan Government-in-Exile can today boast of its positive contributions towards various global concerns – be it the creation of environmental awareness or the protection of various aspects of human rights or the promotion of democratic institutions. These achievements are mainly due to the efforts of Tibetan both inside and outside Tibet, under the charismatic leadership of H.H. and the presence of democratically elected stable government, which has received unstinted support and legitimacy from the wide spectrum of international community.
Chatrel: Its background
Among the many indispensable conditions responsible for making Tibetan government-in-exile a sound foothold, an early development of Tibetan Freedom Movement, whose main activity is to collect Chatrel, forms one of the most important parts. In 1972 at Sarnath, Varanasi, a group of devoted Tibetans had resolved to spearhead the establishment of what is now referred to as “Tibetan Freedom Movement” in the Tibetan exile community. The governing members of the Tibetan Freedom Movement convened its preliminary meeting at Dharamsala on 30th July, 1972 during which resolution pertaining to the procedures for payment of Chatrel by all the Tibetans were passed.
- It was resolved during the meeting that to look after present and future welfare of Tibetan people, a firm and stable government is a must and it could be posible only if a regular source of finance can be arranged. As such beginning from 1st August, 1972 all the Tibetans are to make contribution in the form of Chatrel and certain percentage of monthly salary in case of salaried persons.
- The meeting also underlined that to recognise Tibetan government in exile as a legitimate government of Tibetans by all the Tibetan and to signify this exile recognition, every individual Tibetan must contribute voluntary tax and thereby render legitimacy to the government. This will go a long way to lend credibility to the government while the contributors can make legitimate claim of being the subject of the Tibetan government in exile. Since the presence of such system of making Chatrel have important political significance, all Tibetans to pay Chatrel and the amounts and procedures for contributions are to be finalised at this meeting.
Chatrel: Its significance
On the basis of the resolution passed in the preliminary general meeting of the Tibetan Freedom Movement, which was held on 30th July 1972, the 11th Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputy had on 1st April 1992 adopted a law on the Chatrel to be contributed by the Tibetan Community in exile. As enshrined in the Charter of the Tibetans in exile, contribution of Chatrel by the people of Tibet is recognised as one of their main duties and accordingly the contribution are being collected on a regular basis.
Chatrel: Its goals and needs
The existence of Chatrel symbolizes the Tibetan people’s recognition of their Government-in-exile. Besides , in the international community, it also enables to portray the exile government headed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a legitimate government.
It exhibits the Tibetan people’s support towards augmentation of the exile government’s financial requirements. It also exhibits popular support for a stable Tibetan governmetn-in-exile until Tibet regains its freedom. From the legal point of view , those who contribute towards Chatrel are recognised as bonafide Tibetans in exile
Rights and Duties of the people of Tibet
The payment of Chatrel is not only the right but also the responsibility of the Tibetan people as enshrined in article 13 of the Charter of the Tibetans in exile. As such all the Tibetans must pay voluntary tax.
Being in exile, the payment of tax by the Tibetans was named as “Voluntary Tax”. If it is referred to by any other names such as; donation, fund etc. then the very purpose of involving the general public for making contributions to the exile government, which is to show the existence of the system of paying taxes as in any other government, will be undermined.
Payment of voluntary tax is considered among the duties of the citizens in article 13, clause 4 of the Charter. And since one is not entitled to the rights of citizen without performing one’s duties as a citizen, the payment of voluntary tax can be also considered as a right. The need for making contributions towards voluntary tax by all the Tibetans has very important political significance. Thus, collecting voluntary tax is the major work of the respective members of Tibetan Freedom Movement and all the Tibetans should also pay it promptly by their own accord.