With a short disruption, exile Tibetan Parliament session begins

Member of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Dawa Phunkyi raising a procedural complaint during the opening of the fourth session of the House in Dharamshala, India, on 19 September 2017.

Member of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Dawa Phunkyi raising a procedural complaint during the opening of the fourth session of the House in Dharamshala, India, on 19 September 2017. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 19 September 2017

The opening of the fourth session of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile witnessed a brief disruption after a member protested the Kashag’s charge that the members themselves were not taking their responsibilities.

MP Dawa Phunkyi, raising a procedural complaint, said that by charging the members as irresponsible the Kashag leaves the House not in a position to carry on the business. The Kashag is the cabinet of the Central Tibetan Administration.

“How could irresponsible members be in charge and function?” he asked.

As Phunkyi rose to reply to the Speaker, MP Monlam Tharchin raised a
procedural complaint and explained that after the Speaker makes a decision to procedural complaints, the rules don’t permit a rebuttal.

Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel explained that Kashag has withdrawn all the correspondence, and by that the charges have been lifted as well.

Supporting Dawa Phunkyi, MP Thupten Lungrig said that the Kashag may have withdrawn the communications, but the charges have not been withdrawn in spirit yet.

To this the Speaker said that it is just the beginning of the session, and that there will be opportunity to discuss the matter in the coming days.

After that the Speaker managed to conduct the session smoothly.

There have been correspondences between Parliament and the Kashag over other issues, with the former charging that of late Kashag has been deciding certain issues that actually required the Parliament’s approval.

Decisions cited were such as the Kashag changing the English title of Sikyong to “President” from “Political Leader”, and deciding on a new seating protocol of the CTA, arranging Sikyong at the top instead of the previous order of Supreme Justice, Speaker, and Sikyong.

As the session resumed, the members then mourned the deaths of the Tibetan freedom fighters, and eminent spiritual leaders.

They then discussed the on-going crisis in Tibet, where China’s repressive policies have led to Tibetans taking extreme steps by committing self-immolations.

Speaking about the critical situation and the wave of self-immolations, MP Mingyur Dorjee said that Tibetans need their brave men and women to live to carry on the fight.

He proposed that the House make an appeal to all the Tibetans to stop the Tibetans from taking drastic steps such as self-immolation.

MP Youdon Aukatsang also spoke in support of appealing to Tibetans not to take such extreme actions.

MP Lobsang Yeshi said that the Tibetan movement needs to be seen and heard at the highest levels, such as at the United Nations.

He urged the CTA to make attempts to get non-member observer status in the UN. This entitles the party to participate in the work of the United Nations General Assembly, though with limitations. He cited Palestine as an example, to which the United Nations had granted non-member observer state status in 2012.

Non-governmental organisations such as the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), and International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), could attempt to get Special Consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Consultative Status to the ECOSOC is the highest status granted by the United Nations to non-governmental organisations, and allows them to participate in the work of the United Nations. Depending on their level, the Status gives the organisations a number of rights to participate in the work of the UN, to present their views and deliver testimony. Currently, 4,507 NGOs enjoy active consultative status with ECOSOC.

Yeshi thanked the organisations that have helped let Tibetan case be heard in the UN through their platforms. Among them: Society for Threatened People, Asian Centre for Human Rights, and International Union of Socialist Youth.

Outside the Parliament before the session began, two groups were distributing documents concerting their grievances.

One of the groups was followers of the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. They have been asking to have their representatives in the Parliament similar to other sects of Tibetan Buddhism.

Four sects — Nyimgma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug — from Buddhism, and native Bon religion have two representatives each in the Parliament of 45 members.

The Jonangpa, as the followers of the sect are called, have been demanding representation in the Parliament for many years.

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has also spoken in their favour many times, and has said that it is the Parliament that has to make the final decision.

The other group was demanding that the Parliament to decide on the matter of one of the Parliament members usurping public property where a kindergarten is being run.

They demand that the Parliament and the Kashag follow the court orders to take over the property.

The current session will last till 29 September, during which there will be presentation and discussion on the works of the seven departments of the Central Tibetan Administration.

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