By Tenzin Dharpo
Protesters (seated) with placards at Ghangchen Kyishong basketball ground/Nov. 27, 2017, Phayul Photo: T Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 27: The seat of the exile Tibetan government here at Gangchen Kyishong saw close to a hundred Tibetans gather to protest the decision of the President Lobsang Sangay led Kashag (Cabinet) to remove the North America envoy Penpa Tsering. Around 90 men and women wearing white masks carried out a peaceful and silent protest at Ghankyi basketball ground calling for an independent committee to probe the ousting of Washington envoy.
Tibetans from Bylakuppe, Delhi, Nepal and Dharamshala held placards that read, “Don’t misuse power, do not destroy His Holiness’s legacy, movement for promotion of CTA’s integrity,” among others. The basketball ground within the premises of the Central Tibetan Administration is managed by the Dharamsala regional Tibetan youth congress who reportedly denied permission to the protesters. However, officials from the department of security broke the lock on the entry gate to allow the protesters to sit in.
A representative of the protest group Dolma Bhum from Dharamshala told the media that the people gathered have done so on their own accord and is not organized by any individual or organization. He said, “We feel that the Kashag’s (cabinet) decision to remove NA rep. Penpa Tsering was unfair. The Kashag released a 10-point statement for the removal of PT after repeated probe by the media and demands for clarification by the public. However the reasons are not valid and the public is not satisfied with the official statement.” The group has vowed to carry out similar protests if the Kashag fails to deliver a proper decision on the matter.
Four people from the group later met with the Additional Secretary of the Cabinet Secretary Phunstok Tsering and submitted a memorandum to him. The official from Kashag said that in the spirit of democracy and democratic values, he is not going to comment on the protest. “Protest against the CTA by Tibetan individuals and group is not unprecedented and in a democratic society, such incidents are its part. The Kashag will deliberate on the issue tomorrow during its weekly meet,” he told the media.
The row surrounding the NA envoy’s ousting began on Nov. 7 when the President Sangay led Kashag released a public notice to replace former Speaker Penpa Tsering from the Washington office of Tibet by Education Minister Ngodup Tsering.
The incident then sparked public discourse over the handling of the situation by the Kashag and possible vendetta politics played out by the incumbent President towards his rival in the 2016 Tibetan general elections. The Kashag later issued a 10-point clarification that stated that the envoy failed to carry out his responsibilities and lagged behind the demands of the weighty Washington portfolio. The Kashag cited trust and performance deficit as well insubordination as their key reasons while adding that their decision to remove and appoint liaison officers abruptly, is neither unprecedented nor unconstitutional.
The NA envoy Penpa Tsering has said that although he accepts the decision of the Kashag to remove him from the position, he does not agree with the charges against him and that he will issue a response after he completes his last day in the Washington office on November 30.