By Lobsang Wangyal
Tibet Sun Onlinenews, 6 January 2020
Penpa Tsering, plaintiff in the historic Case no 20 of the exile Tibetans, on Sunday appreciated and thanked the defendant Lobsang Sangay-led Cabinet of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) for finally publishing their apology following the exile Tibetan Supreme court order to offer an apology for wrong charges against him.
The highest exile Tibetan office had issued an apology just ten minutes before the 27 December 4pm deadline. It was published in both Tibetan and English on their information outlets according to the text dictated by the court to tender an apology to Penpa Tsering.
Making a final statement about the Case no 20, which took one year and seven months, Tsering said the case has now come to a close and it is time to move forward. “I do not wish to make any more statements about the case, and hope that I will not be obliged to speak on it anymore,” he said before an audience in Toronto on Sunday 5 January.
A live streaming of the event was relayed via his Facebook account. French Senator André Gattolin in a gesture of support for Penpa Tsering, spoke at the beginning of the event. Close to 100 people were seen in the audience.
Tsering said that the Tibetan version of the apology was according to the court order, but that the English version was unsatisfactory. Explaining the importance of the English version, he said that CTA official announcements are normally published in Tibetan, but when it was about his dismissal, it was in English. “It was therefore important to have the apology published in English for people to know.”
Although he said he’s not going to appeal to the court anymore to rectify how the Cabinet has written their English statement, he suggested the following translation from Tibetan:
“The Kashag’s replacement of Penpa Tsering la from North America Representative and subsequent announcement of the 10-point clarification were based on unreliable sources and misunderstandings that arose out of hearsay; because of which, the Supreme Justice Commission had mentioned in its judgment that Penpa Tsering was wrongly accused of his sincerity, capability and good conduct, and that information not based on facts had circulated in the community. Therefore, the Kashag expresses its apology to Penpa Tsering.”
The Cabinet, while carrying out the court order to offer an apology, had expressed “regret” instead of an “apology” in the English version of their statement which was published on their website.
During his speech, Tsering clarified a few other issues that had been publicly discussed related to the case, including the importance of filing the case, which was to strengthen the nascent Tibetan democracy, and that the rule of law is what matters in a democracy.
Citing Article 1 (c) of the exile Tibetan Charter, he said that it is irrelevant to bring the Dalai Lama and his office into the case, as the Article clearly mentions the Cabinet’s authority in appointing to, or withdrawing from, the post of Representatives in various Office of Tibets.
He dismissed as baseless the idea of Samdhong Rinpoche having any role in the matter or the case, in any form.
Rejecting the charge that the case has regionalism intent, Tsering said, “The case was against the Cabinet, which has people from all the three provinces of Tibet. The case was for the proper functioning of the democracy.”
He rubbished the rumour that he was not getting an audience with the Dalai Lama. “Would it be proper to seek His Holiness’ audience in the middle of the case? I have never used His Holiness’ name for any personal gain. Even if I requested and got an audience, what will the people say? They will then charge me of seeking his favour and influence, and His Holiness may even get criticised.”
Penpa Tsering’s public statement, held at a private venue after the Tibetan community members refused to let him use the community hall, was aimed at fulfilling the court’s order to both the plaintiff and the defendant to work towards bringing unity and harmony within the Tibetan community.
Tsering had filed the defamation case against the Lobsang Sangay-led Cabinet in May 2018 with the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, which gave its judgment on 14 October 2019. The court gave a second order on 22 November 2019 after the Cabinet failed to fulfil the first order to offer an apology to Penpa Tsering, failing which Sangay and his colleagues would lose their right to stand in any election, as well as their voting rights. The Cabinet then tendered their apology.
The exile Tibetan community was divided between two groups of those supporting Sangay and the other supporting Tsering. The case has dominated much of Tibetan political discourse for the last more than one year.