(TibetanReview.net, Aug05’21) – Four major Tibetan non-governmental organizations – the Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, National Democratic Party of Tibet, and Students for a Free Tibet India – have issued a three-point appeal, calling for immediate resolution of the issues? that has stymied the constitution of the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE). The gist of their call is that the supposed taking of oath of office by 22 elected candidates before a copy of the Charter of Tibetans in Exile and a portrait of HH the Dalai Lama, but without anyone to administer it to them, and to swear them in, in clear violation of the Charter, be accepted.
The NGOs have decided to call on the Kashag Secretariat, the office of the Tibetan Election Commission, and the elected candidates to the 17th TPiE individually to impress them to make it happen. They may be on a fool’s errand. The functionaries of the CTA are creatures of the Charter and they cannot possibly agree to ignore its provisions on the oath-taking requirement and still remain in their positions under the Charter. Violating the Charter – which is what they are being asked to do – just isn’t any part of their official duty or function and will have ramifications on the sanctity of the Charter.
The oath-taking ceremony for the elected candidates took place on Jun 8. But 22 elected candidates – all the 10 from the religious constituencies, all the 10 from the Dotoe constituency, one from the U-Tsang constituency and one for the North America constituency – refused to do so. Their grouse was that the pro tem speaker administering the oath had taken his oath from the Chief Justice Commissioner of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) who had been illegally removed, along with the other two justice commissioners, by the 16th TPiE on Mar 25 in total disregard of the Charter. Their contention is that the Chief Justice Commissioner’s resumption of office, which took place on May 24, is illegal.
The illegally removed justices vacated their posts on Mar 24, but came back after numerous and persistent appeals from considerable sections of the Tibetan public that included almost all the former justices of the TSJC, almost all the former ministers of the CTA; former staff of the CTA, the Tibetan NGO community and others who all referred to the gross illegality of the decision to remove them from office and the necessity for their presence to avoid a total Charter breakdown as even the newly-elected Sikyong would not be able to take office in their absence.
Thankfully the Sikyong was able to take office as a result of the justices’ resumption of duty and it took place in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as the outgoing Sikyong who handed over the official seal to the newly elected Sikyong.
The Charter is silent on a situation in which elected candidates refuse to take their oath of office as prescribed by the Charter. But it does provide for candidates with the most number of votes who had failed to make it being sworn in if vacancies arise.
There are currently 22 members (including the pro tem Speaker) in the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile as 22 others have refused to take their oath of office under the provisions of the Charter of Tibetans in Exile while one, from Australia, could not make it due to Covid-19 restrictions. That means we practically do not yet have a parliament as any meeting of it requires the presence of at least a two-thirds of its 45-member strength.