Disappointed by political stalemate, Tibetan man calls out exile leadership after self-immolating

Lobsang Tenzin in an undated photo.Image: Facebook.

DHARAMSALA, 21 June: Disappointed by the political stalemate of the Tibetan parliament that has divided the Tibetan lawmakers coupled with the resumption to the office by the removed justices and Sikyong Penpa Tsering’s failure to find a middle ground for the impasse, a Tibetan man has self-immolated on Sunday.

While it was immediately not clear as to why Lobsang Tenzin from Hunsur Rabgyal Ling Tibetan settlement in Karnataka staged the self-immolation protest, speculation ran rife across social media platforms over what forced him to take the drastic step.

Here is what the 60-year-old Tibetan man from I Village has to say about his protest that called out the Tibetan parliament, the removed justices of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, and the Central Tibetan Administration’s CTA  President(Sikyong) Penpa Tsering.

On the Tibetan MPs, he says once elected, “they all represent the CTA, not their regions- Dotoe, Domey, or U-Tsang.”

“The present discord and the division is not right. What worries me the most is that it will disappoint His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” Lobsang says in an audio clip doing the rounds on social media while speaking to a Tibetan named Tenzin Lungtok.

He further says that the Dalai Lama always advocates for our unity and harmony and that he tried to send a message that he said did not make any difference as such he took the drastic step of self-immolating hoping it will make a difference.

Tenzin says that Sikyong Penpa Tsering who is now the elected political head of the Tibetan people has previously spoken about unity at length. 

Referring to the political limbo, he says, “he ought to find a middle ground, a path acceptable for both, this has not happened so I am really disappointed.”

On resumption to offices by the Chief Justice Commissioner and the two Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission impeached by the Tibetan parliament, he says he “was really disappointed by it, but can not really do anything about it.” 

“The reality is that they were removed by the 16th Tibetan parliament so to play by the book, they can’t return like that. This does not sit well,” he concluded.

Lobsang Tenzin has sustained a 30% body burn after he self-immolated on Sunday. He is now being nursed back to health at his home after receiving treatment for the hospital. 

This marks the first instance of self-immolation protest against the leadership of the exiled Tibetan administration.

On 8 June, twenty-one MPs of the Tibetan Parliament took their oath of office from the pro-tem Speaker Dawa Tsering who was administered the oath by the Chief Justice Commissioner who was removed by the TPIE in March, while 22 MPs who held it unlawful took their oath in front of the Charter and a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. 

After the members of the 17th TPIE took the oath of office in an unprecedented manner, their days of business came to an abrupt end in the afternoon after the Chief Election Commissioner(CEC) Wangdu Tsering Pesur told the Tibetan legislatures that the election of the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker can only be conducted when the house meets the quorum and that he received only the list of 21 MPs who took their oath of office through the pro-tem Speaker.

On Friday, the CEC of the CTA declared no going beyond Article 47 of the Charter of the Tibetans-in-Exile when it comes to the oath-taking ceremony of the 7th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile (TPIE) as he stressing on the need and the importance of upholding the rule of law in a democratic setup while urging the MPs to take the oath of office from the pro-tem Speaker.

For now, the exile Tibetan government has been functioning without a parliament, one of the pillars of the democracy for more than two weeks with Sikyong Penpa Tsering as its executive head and the impeached Chief Justice Commissioner from whom he took the oath of office at the judiciary.

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