Please do the right thing: Open letter to Sikyong Lobsang Sangay

Dear Sikyong Lobsang Sangay,

My friends and I write this Open Letter to you because like many people we are deeply concerned for the fate of Tibetan Democracy given to us by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The news about the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission Order of 22nd November 2019 directing you and the Kashag to apologise to Penpa Tsering by 27 December, failing which the rights of Kashag members to stand in elections and to vote would be withheld, has further strengthened the Tibetan people’s faith in the Tibetan judiciary. The 14 October 2019 Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission verdict vindicated plaintiff Penpa Tsering of all charges made against him, and directed the Kashag to issue an apology in both Tibetan and English, to be published in all official bulletins and publications.

It is public knowledge that Penpa Tsering brought the well-known “Case No 20” to the highest Tibetan Court after your 10 March 2018 speech in Dharamshala. Every year Tibetans and supporters’ world over commemorate 10th March to mark the 1959 Tibetan national uprising against the Chinese occupation of Tibet when thousands of Tibetan men, women, and children were killed, and which resulted in the escape of His Holiness and thousands of Tibetans into exile in India and neighbouring states. But you used that sacred day to politicise an issue involving you by very craftily mixing it with talk of Tibetan unity and the importance of following His Holiness’ wishes, and then saying the Tibetan Court is there to resolve our disputes. Social media is full of people reliving this notorious 10 March speech of yours, and expressing their disgust for your [Kashag] not honouring the Tibetan Court’s verdict. So far as per news reports, only the plaintiff lawyer’s fee has been paid; no apology!

After the Justice Commission’s verdict clearing Penpa Tsering of all charges given by the Kashag in ousting him from the Office of Tibet post in Washington DC, the Minister of Home, Sonam Topgyal, addressed the media (you were again not in Dharamshala on this crucial “Case No 20” day). Both he and your lawyer, who has now been “found to be in contempt of court, licence annulled among other punishments”, expressed disappointment with the verdict. It is obvious that anyone who loses a case will be disappointed if a verdict does not go in their favour. What is important is that in a DEMOCRACY no one is above the law. But Sonam Topgyal’s reference to “lay gyum dre” shocked and surprised many people. “Lay gyum dre” has nothing to do with judicial cases.

One cannot imagine how much your undermining of the Justice Commission’s verdict has hurt His Holiness. During public talks and in front of His Holiness, you always talk of following His wishes. If so, how about following His Holiness’ advice on respecting Democracy? You and the spineless Kalons should be ashamed. You will go down in history as destroyer of Democracy (mangtso) that His Holiness has given to the Tibetan people. We hope from now on His Holiness will avoid attending any function or event where you are there, because that would also tarnish His pure image.

If you as the Sikyong do not abide by the Justice Commission’s verdict, then how can you expect ordinary people to follow? Leadership is about being honest and humble in defeat. Therefore in the name of Unity and Democracy please be positive and do the right thing. Instead of blindly taking sides, everyone should first read the TSJC’s 1,028-page verdict which is detailed and unbiased.

“The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worth of emulation.”
— President Jimmy Carter.


Tenzin Nyima and Friends

17 December 2019

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