By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 27 November 2017
For the first time in nearly 60 years, Tibetans in exile held a protest against the Cabinet (Kashag) of the Central Tibetan Administration. They were challenging its controversial decision to sack the Representative of the Dalai Lama to North America in Washington DC.
Kashag had announced on 7 November that Representative Penpa Tsering had been fired from his position. He has been ordered to leave office on 30 November.
About 100 people gathered at the basketball ground on the premises of the CTA demonstrating against the Kashag’s action. The protesters also expressed dissatisfaction with the 10-point response that had been issued by the Cabinet.
Last week a few dozen Tibetans staged a protest in New York City over the same issue. A few also protested in Toronto, Canada, during Lobsang Sangay’s visit to the country.
The majority of the demonstrators in Dharamshala are from McLeod Ganj. A few had travelled from other places. While carrying out their peaceful silent protest, an announcer said that if any outsiders come to provoke them, they would not use any violence against them.
Banners hanging on the walls read: Movement for promotion of CTA’s integrity; No misuse of power; Do not destroy His Holiness’ legacy; No disregard to public aspirations; and, We need an independent commission to resolve the matter immediately.
Dolma Bam, one of the staunch supporters of Lobsang Sangay in the 2011 election, was among the protesters today. He said, “We are not protesting against the CTA. We are seeing an injustice. There is not a good reason to sack Penpa Tsering. I feel that Lobsang Sangay is destroying the CTA. We are here to protect the CTA from destruction.”
“We are no more able to trust and rely on Lobsang Sangay. There is lack of honesty and justice, and the reasons given by Kashag are unacceptable,” he said.
Sherab Dolma, 81, who was the oldest among the protesters, said, “I would like the Kashag to be truthful. Do not dismiss those who are working hard.”
“I don’t know if the Kashag will pay heed to us, but it will be a shame for them. It is for the first time that the public is protesting against it.”
Organic farmer Rinzin Dorje travelled the longest distance to participate in the demonstration, from Bylakuppe in South India. Dorje said, “I was shocked to hear about the sacking of Representative Penpa Tsering. It came all of a sudden. The Kashag’s decision doesn’t do any good for the Tibetan cause.”
“None of the 10-point reasons given by Kashag calls for expulsion of a Representative from his duty. We now call for the formation of an independent committee to give a recommendation after impartial investigation of information from both the sides.”
Dorje added that if the matter doesn’t get a fair judgment, they will continue with their agitation.
Salam (who uses only one name), 36, had travelled from Goa to join the protest. “I am neither supporting Lobsang Sangay, nor Penpa Tsering. I am here to support the truth. Penpa Tsering has rejected Kashag’s 10-point charges. That has raised the question.”
“We do not need explanation, we need the reason why Penpa Tsering was expelled. We have the right to know. We demand an independent committee to investigate the matter.”
Tsultrim Dorje, 53, had come from Kathmandu, Nepal. He said he voted for Lobsang Sangay in the 2011 election. “I have heard lies over the years from Lobsang Sangay as the leader. He has been deceiving the people.”
He said that Kashag’s ten reasons created more doubts than clarity. “Unless justice is done, we will not stop our movement.”
One of the protesters left his winter sweater business and travelled to Dharamshala to join the demonstration. Tsering Wangchuk, 36, is from Dekiling, but does his winter sweater business in Rajasthan. He said that Penpa Tsering has not made any comments so far out of respect for the rules. “I have full confidence that Penpa Tsering will come out clean from this situation.”
A protester from Sikkim said that she is a ‘Denjongpa’, but her husband who passed away a few years ago, was a Tibetan. She said, “I am here to support truth and justice. Kashag’s reasons are not satisfactory. The Dalai Lama is working so hard for Tibet, and what the Kashag has done makes me worry about what China will think. Tibetans should work in unity to achieve their goals.”
Five representatives of the protesters approached the Cabinet Secretariat to present a memorandum. The Additional Secretary of the Secretariat Phuntsok Tsering received the memorandum from them at the entrance of the Secretariat, and said that he will hand over the memorandum to the Cabinet tomorrow when the President of CTA and the ministers meet for their weekly meeting.
Answering questions from the the media, he said, “People have the right to demonstrate in a democratic society. Kashag will look into their demands and will make a decision.”
Penpa Tsering has said that he will respond to the Kashag’s 10-point charges against him after he leaves his office on 30 November.