September session of Tibetan Parliament cancelled, next in March

Speaker Pema Jungney announcing the closing of the 8th session of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile in Dharamshala, India, on 30 September 2019.

Speaker Pema Jungney announcing the closing of the 8th session of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile in Dharamshala, India, on 30 September 2019. File photo/Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

Tibet Sun Online News

ON THE WEB, 18 August 2020

The September session of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile has been cancelled due to concerns about the Coronavirus, according to a press release.

It would have been the 10th session of the 16th Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), which had been scheduled to be held for eight days from 16-24 September. The next session will be held in March 2021. The ninth session in March was held only for a day due to the Coronavirus situation.

The House meets annually in March for ten days for the budget session, when they pass the budget of the CTA. The annual operating budget for 2020 was around US$ 65 million.

In the interim, the 10-member Standing Committee will take charge of doing check-and-balance by questioning the Cabinet after submission of the annual reports of the seven departments and autonomous bodies of CTA. Other members will receive reports by email, and they could also pose questions. Responses to the questions will be posted on the Parliament website by the end of October.

The House has 45 members, with some travelling from outside India for the meeting. “And even if the session is held supposedly, because of the current international travel ban Tibetan Parliamentarians from outside of India will not be able to attend the session, and Tibetan Parliamentarians in India too might find it difficult to travel with the ongoing pandemic,” the release said.

Following the appearance of the Coronavirus in India, the Indian government issued certain guidelines to be followed to limit the spread of the virus. Among them, all social, political, and other events, and all religious places, are to remain closed.

Large meetings of more than 10 people, will continue to be discouraged. People must be seated at least six feet away from each other.

Except for urgent need to travel to India, visas issued to any foreigner (except those issued to diplomats, members of UN and international organisations, and aircrew of scheduled commercial airlines) prior to 13 March 2020 stand suspended. Currently, only certain types of emergency visas are being issued.

All travellers entering India must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

In April, the Parliament relieved European Tibetan representative Thubten Wangchen for failing to attend two successive sessions, citing parliamentary rules. He was unable to attend the March session due to India’s orders barring travellers from European countries. The handling of Wangchen’s situation caused public debate over the issue within Tibetan society.

As of 17 August 2020, India recorded 2,701,604 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus COVID-19. Of these, 673,431 cases are considered active, and there have been 51,925 deaths. India is third highest in the number of cases worldwide, after the US and Brazil.

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