Dharamshala, 5th October 2023: A European Parliamentary delegation visited the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and had a very productive meeting with Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang and members of the Standing Committee.
A gala dinner at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) was organized in honour of the visiting guests later that evening.
The visit was coordinated by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF).
The delegation of EU Parliamentary delegation consisted of Dr. Carsten Klein, Head FNF South Asia; Torsten Herbst, Parliamentary Leader of the FDP Bundestag Group, Germany; Yannick Shetty, Member of Parliament, Austria; Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, Member of Parliament, Germany; Sandra Weeser, Member of Parliament, Germany; Dirk Bergner, Deputy Speaker of the State Parliament of Thuringia, Germany; Regina Bergner, Head of Department, Jena Municipal Corporation, Germany; Dolores Bakos, Member of Parliament, Vienna State Parliament, Austria; and others.
Welcoming the guests, the Speaker greeted each of the delegates and briefed them on the evolution of Tibetan democracy with the establishment of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE), then called Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies (CTPD), on 2nd September 1960.
He further introduced the composition and functioning of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and roles of the members of the Standing Committee of TPiE which is made up of two members of parliament from each three provinces and one member from each of religious schools.
Explaining the objective of the Central Tibetan Administration which is to resolve the Sino-Tibetan conflict and to look after the welfare of the Tibetan diaspora, the Speaker spoke about the connection between the TPiE and the FNF over the past decades with Tibetan parliament’s holding of bi-annual session, visiting programs, and other projects benefiting greatly from the funds provided by the FNF.
Speaking on the human rights violations, religious restriction, and other repressions inside of Tibet, the Speaker brought the attention of the delegation to the atrocities happening in Tibet under China’s rule and urged their support in bringing up Tibet’s issue while dealing with China.
Dolores Bakos , a representative of the delegation shared their objective of visiting the Central Tibetan Administration to learn about its vibrant democracy and its functioning. She also thanked the FNF for organising the visitation program.
Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang delved into the details of the introduction of Tibetan democracy and extended her gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for bestowing the gift of democracy to the Tibetan people and for His consistent guidance throughout the evolution of democracy in Tibetan diaspora.
Highlighting the provision of women’s representation in the Tibetan parliament in 1964 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Deputy Speaker spoke about the status of Tibetan women in the society and current number of women MPs in the TPiE.
While speaking on the historical facts of Tibet being an independent nation in the past, the Deputy Speaker spoke on the congressional hearing on Tibet in the U.S Capitol by Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) on Tibet during the side-lines of the 8th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet by Prof. Michael Van Walt Praag, Professor of International Law and Executive President of Kreddha; and Prof. Hon-Shiang Lau, Retired Chair Professor, City University of Hong Kong. Prof. Michael and Prof. Lau gave proof of Tibet being never a part of China at the hearing.
The Deputy Speaker further spoke about the 9 rounds of Sino-Tibetan dialogues, sinicization of Tibet including the word ‘Tibet’ to ‘Xizang’, China’s malicious attempt of capturing the institute of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, coercing of Tibetan children as young as three to four to colonial boarding schools, and on the expansionist mentality of Xi Jinping.
The Deputy Speaker concluded saying that their visit to Dharamshala sent a big message to the world that Tibetans are not alone in their struggle and the Central Tibetan Administration is the legitimate representative of the Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet.
Later in the evening, the TPiE hosted a gala dinner in honour of the visiting delegates at the Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) wherein the Deputy Speaker thanked Dr. Carsten Klein and team for organizing this trip of European parliamentarians to Dharamshala and spoke on the significance of Tibetan culture which has been preserved notably well in exile. She also highlighted the collaboration between the FNF and the TPiE and exchanges between the Tibetan parliamentarians and European parliamentarians under FNF’s coordination which has benefited significantly in spreading awareness on Tibet.
Two representatives of the delegation spoke at the cultural performance during the dinner wherein they shared how honoured they felt witnessing the cultural presentation and learning about the issue of Tibet and the Central Tibetan Administration.
They assured their commitment to support the struggle of Tibet and mentioned that sovereignty of Tibet is a historical fact which they promised to spread awareness in their respective countries. They also claimed that their trip to Dharamshala to learn about the functioning of the Central Tibetan Administration, Tibetan democracy and culture, and the issue of Tibet has been worthwhile.