Dharamshala: Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, spoke at the round-table discussion on the topic, “Parliament in Exile: The Tibetan Election”. The monthly series of Roundtable Discussions on Tibet and Tibetans in exile, known as “Tibet Talks” was organised by the India Foundation on 30 Nov 2023.
The Speaker began with an overview of Tibet’s significance as the ‘roof of the world’ and its historical independence, emphasizing its rich culture and religion. He expressed gratitude to India for hosting Tibetans in exile for over six decades, and highlighted the strong historical, cultural, and spiritual bond between Tibet and India.
Shifting the focus to democracy and praising India as the world’s largest democracy, as well as a model of unity in diversity, the Speaker traced the adoption of democratic values by Tibetans, inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s contradictory observations on the functioning of the Indian parliament during his visit to India in 1956 and on the Chinese Communist Party’s congress during his visit to China in 1954. The Speaker discussed the establishment of Tibetan democracy in exile, a fully functional democracy with three pillars: Judiciary, Legislative, and Executive.
Details about the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile were also provided, including its structure, sessions, elections, and functions. The Speaker underscored the importance of the World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet (WPCT) as an outreach program to inform global leaders about the Tibet – China conflict. The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile’s advocacy efforts, outreach programs, and engagement with international communities were also highlighted.
The concluding part of the speech addressed the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet, with China violating basic rights such as freedom of speech, religion, and language. The Speaker emphasized the peaceful approach advocated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and expressed disappointment at the lack of response from China in resolving the Tibet-China conflict through dialogue.
-Report filed by Tibetan Parliamentary Secretariat