After four months of controversy over the seating of Tibet’s exile parliament, all members of the parliament’s 17th session will now take their oaths of office under the terms of Tibet’s exile charter, following the intervention of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
In a press statement released on Thursday, the 45 members of parliament unanimously agreed to take their oaths on Friday before parliament’s temporary speaker, breaking an impasse that had seen the India-based legislature’s business come to a halt since June.
The newly elected members of parliament were sworn into office in two separate groups on June 8, with 21 MPs taking their oaths from a temporary speaker of parliament and 22 taking their oaths before a portrait of the Dalai Lama.
Each group then denounced the other’s oaths as invalid.
In a letter Wednesday, the Dalai Lama expressed his disappointment that the parliament could not be convened due to the “adoption of meaningless rigid positions on a few issues,” adding that the impasse had negatively affected not just the Tibetan people in general, “but also patriotic Tibetans living in Tibet.”
All those elected to parliament should now “take their oaths as per the process laid out in the Charter,” whose 47th Article calls for oaths to be taken before “the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Assembly, or a person appointed on his or her behalf,” the Dalai Lama said.
Tenzin Phuntsok Doring, an elected member for Australia and Asia, who took his oath before a portrait of the Dalai Lama, declared himself satisfied with the decision “that all elected members have unanimously agreed to follow the recommendation of His Holiness [the Dalai Lama].”
“There are occasions when our opinions will not conform to each other, but we are fortunate to have our leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama for guidance,” Doring said, adding that the legislature of Tibet’s exile government “is now ready to take on its work.”
“It was with no doubt that I agreed to follow the recommendation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” added MP from North America Tenzin Jigme, who had also taken his oath before the Dalai Lama’s portrait in June.
“And the most important thing is that this disagreement was not over issues of regionalism or religion, or over our positions regarding Tibetan independence or the Middle Way,” Jigme said, referring to policies promoting separate views of how to advance the cause of Tibetan freedom under Chinese rule.
“The difference was over our interpretation and understanding of Article 47 of the Tibetan Charter,” Jigme said.
The Tibetan MPs, who will now take their oaths together on Friday, were elected in an April 11 vote held in Tibetan communities worldwide that saw former parliamentary speaker Penpa Tsering voted in as political leader, or Sikyong, of the Dharamsala, India-based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Tibet’s government in exile.
Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago, following which the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in India and other countries around the world.
Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the Tibetan region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.
The Tibetan diaspora is estimated to include about 150,000 people living in 40 countries, mainly India, Nepal, North America, and in Europe.
Reported by Lobsang Gelek for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.