By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 17 March 2018
On the fourth day of the budget session of the exile Tibetan Parliament, the controversy surrounding Penpa Tsering dominated the proceedings.
Penpa Tsering was terminated in November 2017 as Representative of the Dalai Lama in Washington DC by the exile Tibetan Cabinet led by President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Lobsang Sangay.
Members of the Parliament discussed the issue extensively, to which Sangay explained that Penpa Tsering was dismissed due to loss of trust.
Sangay won the general election in March 2016 to lead the Tibetans in exile, and Penpa Tsering was his contender. Sangay said that Penpa Tsering promised to work together with him after the election, but instead he heard that Penpa had instigated staff members of CTA to do their jobs carelessly and was talking behind Sangay’s back.
The Tibetan Diaspora has seen a rift following the ouster of Penpa Tsering. Protests dogged Sangay wherever he went in Canada, Europe, and the US. The protesters argued that the 10-point reasons given by the Cabinet for firing Penpa Tsering were unfounded.
A group of about 90 people sat in a silent protest not far away from the Parliament, calling for impeachment of CTA President Lobsang Sangay as well as member of Parliament Tenpa Yarphel.
They said that they are protesting to protect the legacy of the Dalai Lama, and the integrity of CTA’s rule of law and its democratic system. They intend to continue the protest till the Parliament session ends on the 24th.
When asked by journalists about the protests, Sangay said that the protesters’ arguments were baseless, but that the people have every right to voice their views. He also affirmed that as President of CTA he was elected by the people, and he is accountable to the Tibetan people.
Tenpa Yarphel said that the protesters must check last year’s Parliament proceedings to find out the truth. He felt that they would then understand that he has done nothing wrong, and that anything that has to do with things he said has already been cleared.
The protesters say that Yarphel has denounced the Dalai Lama and insulted the State Oracle Nechung.
Among the protesters, some have travelled from Europe, Nepal, and the US, with one each from Belgium and Norway, two from Nepal, and five from the US.
Thinley Kelsang from New York, who was leading the protest, said, “We expected Lobsang Sangay and the members of the Parliament to visit us and hear our views, which they didn’t do.”
“I think this shows a lack of responsibility by the people who are supposed to be our leaders,” he added.
Another protester, Jampa, 37, from Belgium said he was blocked by officials from presenting a petition to Sangay. “The petition has the signatures of 750 people. The signatories were asking the exile Tibetan cabinet to follow the rule of law, stop misuse of power, and form a committee to probe the Penpa Tsering issue.”
The other protester from Europe was Raby Tarang, 35, from Norway. He said that he was here to seek justice and to tell the exile cabinet led by Sangay that there is no transparency in their actions.
Palmo, 48, from New York City spoke about the factions that have arisen within the Tibetan society as a result of Penpa Tsering’s dismissal.
“My family has members from all the three provinces, and it has been disrupted due to the issue. There is no harmony among our family members as some are supporting Lobsang Sangay and some Penpa Tsering.” she said sobbing.
“I didn’t hear Lobsang Sangay telling his supporters to stop their divisive actions, such as creating obscene images and using abusive language.”
The other protesters from the US include Lhamo Chodon from Boston and Namgyal Lhamo from New York City.