Tibetan parliamentarians

Tibetan parliamentarians (from left) Deputy Chair Dolma Gyari and Venerable Tsering Phuntsok, at ICT’s February 10 roundtable on Tibetan democracy.

On February 10 the International Campaign for Tibet sponsored a roundtable on Tibetan Democracy at its office in Washington, D.C. Two visiting Tibetan parliamentarians, Deputy Chair Dolma Gyari and Venerable Tsering Phuntsok, led the discussion, which dealt with issues including transparency, fair representation, need for one-man-one-vote, role of political parties, electoral laws and the system of checks and balances in the Tibetan democratic structure in exile.

The two parliamentarians outlined the historical development of Tibetan democracy, the promulgation of the draft constitution for future Tibet in the 1960s and the Charter for Tibetans in exile, promulgated in 1991.

Discussions touched on the role of political parties, and changes in the representation system, including the need to expand the representation for Tibetans in the Americas. The parliamentarians also answered questions on the merits of reserved seats for women in the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

Participants in the discussion included staff of the National Democratic Institute, National Endowment for Democracy, The School for Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, the International Campaign for Tibet and three former members of the Tibetan Parliament, now residing in the Washington, D.C., area.

The two Tibetan Parliamentarians were in Washington, D.C., to attend the organizing committee meeting of the International Network of Parliamentarians for Democracy. During their stay here, they also met with members of Congress, including Senator Feinstein and Congressman Kirk, as well as Administration officials.

They also attended a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, at which Secretary of State Colin Powell testified, as guests of the committee.

The Parliamentarians also addressed the Tibetan Community in the Washington, D.C., area and visited New York where they met with staff of the Office of Tibet, representatives of the Tibet Support Groups and the Tibetan community there.

Mrs. Gyari Dolma, Vice Chairman of Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, studied law in Delhi University. She represents the Dhotoe province.

She was first elected to the Assembly in 1991 and is currently serving her third term. She is the first Tibetan woman Vice Chairman. She was first elected to the Vice-Chair in September 2001 and re-elected in March 2002.

Ven. Tsering Phuntsok (aka Pema Woeser) is also serving his third term in the Tibetan Parliament. He represents the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

He graduated from the world-renowned Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India.