By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 19 Sept: Around 500 Tibetans gathered today at Basket Ground Court near Ganchen Kyishong, the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), to appeal to the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) for amendments to the Charter of Tibetans in exile.
Led by the organisation Shirim Mimang (The Advocacy of the General Public for the Sustainability of CTA), Tibetans from 25 different places in India and Nepal, along with eight from abroad took part in this campaign.
The organisation was formed after the impeachment of the Chief Justice Commissioner and the other two Justice Commissioners of the CTA’s Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) and their controversial return to duty, which has loomed large over CTA and the Tibetan community since 2021.
“Our main appeal to the 17th TPiE is to amend the provision of the charter on the selection of the Chief Justice Commissioner and the other two Justice Commissioners and to resurrect the important pillar of Democracy, the Judiciary,” said Tenzin Yangkar, the president of the group.
She spoke about the evolution of their campaign, which they initiated soon after the start of the crisis.
Our attempts to interview others from the group were denied by Yangkar. She said that they may get carried away by emotion.
Most of the participants in the group are elderly Tibetans. The oldest from the group is a nonagenarian.
Regarding their previous efforts, she explained, “Initially, we sent an appeal, signed by 300 people, to the TPiE, but it was deemed baseless (Yig-Khyam) and rejected. Later, we sent an online appeal with 5700 people’s signatures, along with copies of their green books attached. However, it was also labelled baseless (Yig-Khyam) again and rejected.”
“Therefore,” she added, “it is out of concern and desperation that we have come all the way to Dharamsala to make this appeal.”
The group held their press conference at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) yesterday to launch their campaign with former Kalon (minister) Rinchen Khado in attendance as the chief guest.
Addressing the gathering, Tsetan Phuntsok, a member of the organising committee, pledged that “if TPiE fails to reach a consensus during their 10-day session regarding the amendment in the charter for the appointment of Judges, then we will remain here and continue our advocacy.”
During the last session of the TPiE in March, Kashag’s amendment to the Charter, which relates to the qualification of the Chief Justice Commissioner and the other two Justice Commissioners, and the standing committee of the TPiE’s amendment to the Charter, which relates to oath-taking, both failed to secure the required two-thirds support in the house, resulting in their failure to pass through the parliament.
In May, following the resolution adopted by the fifth session of the 17th TPiE, Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang constituted a Rules and Regulation Review Committee composed of Parliamentarians Dawa Phunkyi, Serta Tsultrim, Geshe Lharampa Gowo Lobsang Phende, Karma Gelek, and Thupten Gyatso.
TPiE announced in July that suggestions from the general public and organizations for amending the Charter of Tibetans in exile were welcome, with September 2nd as the deadline.
The Rules and Regulation Review Committee will be reviewing the rules and regulations of the Central Tibetan Administration, including the Charter, considering the suggestions received from the general public and organisations, and will submit their reviewed report to the Parliamentary Secretariat by the end of February 2024.