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Khenpo Sonam Tenphel

  • 20 Mar, 2024
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Fifth Session of 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile proceeds in Dharamshala



The 5th session of the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile began in Dharamshala on March 15, afternoon, with Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and Dolma Tsering presiding over the 10-day event. Attendees included Sikyong Penpa Tsering, Kalons, parliament members, and department secretaries.

Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel marked the opening day as auspicious, coinciding with the CTA's long-life prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He emphasized the need for dedicated efforts from all Tibetans to fulfill the Dalai Lama's commitments, stressing the benefits of his longevity in preserving Tibetan culture and Buddhism.

The speaker called for unity among Tibetans led by the CTA heads and urged diasporic Tibetans to take advantage of the changing international and domestic political circumstances in China to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict. He also praised the growing number of Tibet supporters and legislative efforts for Tibet worldwide, urging continued and determined efforts from all participants.

On the second day of the fifth session of the 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, chaired by Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, parliamentarians deliberated on the critical situations inside Tibet. They discussed the human rights violations in Tibet and the threats faced by the Tibetan language, religion, and culture. Some parliamentarians proposed observing a ‘Solidarity Day’ to show solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet and commemorate their sacrifices against China’s policy of violent repression. Others suggested that diasporic Tibetans engage in activities related to Tibet's issue to preserve its distinct heritage.

The parliament members raised their concerns about the alarming critical situation in Tibet with China's ongoing Sinicization, including the forceful DNA sample collection drive, sending Tibetan children to Chinese colonial boarding schools, and extreme surveillance systems. Sikyong Penpa Tsering clarified doubts raised over the official motion on critical situations inside Tibet, and the resolution was adopted unanimously after some rectifications.

The session also involved a debate on the Finance Kalon's statement and a précis of the 2023-2024 budget report by the Budget Estimate Committee, which will continue in tomorrow's session.

On the third day of the budget session of the 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, discussions on the statement of Finance Kalon, the incumbent Sikyong, and the budget report for 2023-2024 continued from the previous day. Sikyong Penpa Tsering provided clarifications on various budget allocations, including housing projects for newly arrived Tibetans, capacity building programs under the CTA, staff quarter reconstruction projects, dollar conversion rate for Green Book contributions, and more. Parliamentarians Youdon Aukatsang and Geshe Atong Rinchen Gyaltsen provided additional clarifications on the report of the Budget Estimate Committee.

The session then moved on to the discussion and approval of proposed budgets for various departments and offices under the Central Tibetan Administration for the coming year. The budgets for the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, local justice commissions, and 37 local Tibetan assemblies were approved after deliberation. The budget for the Kashag Secretariat remained open for further discussion. The session adjourned at 5 pm.

The 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile's fourth day of the Budget Session started with a resolution of gratitude to Hon’ble Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker Emerita of the US House of Representatives, for her unwavering support for Tibet, child rights, the environment, and the voiceless. The resolution, which acknowledged her unparalleled leadership and invaluable support in strengthening bipartisan support for Tibet in the US Congress and passing Tibet-related bills, was passed unanimously by the house.

The session continued with the deliberation and approval of the Kashag Secretariat's Recurring Budget, followed by the approval of the Special Recurring Budget and Surkyol Budget. Sikyong Penpa Tsering answered the queries raised during the discussion.

The house also welcomed Shri Pankaj Goyal and his delegation, who attended the afternoon session as observers. The parliament members put forward their queries on the procedure of applying/extending Registration Certificate (RC) for refugees, Exit Permit, Return Visa, Australian Tibetan Immigration Project, and numerous others during the deliberation on the Recurring Budget of the Department of Security. Kalon Gyari Dolma of the Department of Security answered the questions.

The leaves of absence and next week's list of business were read out by Secretary-General Sonam Dorjee of the Tibetan Parliamentary Secretariat. The debate on the Recurring Budget of the Department of Security will continue in the next sitting. The session adjourned until next Monday.

Edited and collated by Team TRC