China totally uncompromising, say Tibetan leaders

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh) : Many top Tibetan leaders at a crucial meet here to decide the future course of the Tibetan struggle appear thoroughly disillusioned with China, saying it has been “uncompromising” and is trying to waste time through talks.

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Over 580 Tibetan leaders have been divided into 15 groups from Monday to Saturday for discussions at Mcleodganj, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile. And it is turning out to be an event for China-bashing.

“The insincerity shown by China on the Tibet issue in the last few years is the only reason for this China-bashing. The Chinese leadership does not want to come clean on the human rights violations inside Tibet and also on their stand to allow Tibetans to have reasonable autonomy inside Tibet,” one exiled MP of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPD) told IANS.

The gathering, said to be the biggest ever of top Tibetan leaders, has been called by the exiled Tibetan parliament for the first time in five decades at the instance of Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Eight rounds of talks between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and Chinese leaders have failed to achieve much. The eighth round ended Nov 4 and the Tibetan envoys came here and said they “did not even request for the next round of talks”.

“The Chinese side was absolutely uncompromising this time (during the eighth round of talks). The Dalai Lama cannot be held responsible for the failure of the talks,” senior Tibetan leader and the Dalai Lama’s envoy Lodi Gyari said here.

Gyari, envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, and two aides, all of whom are attending the special meeting, have told other participants that China was wasting time through the talks that started in 2002.

During the last talks, China rejected a memorandum submitted by the Tibetans regarding the autonomy of Tibet. The memorandum was sought by the Chinese side with clear instructions that everything should comply with the Chinese constitution.

Tibetan leaders are also angry over the Chinese Central United Front department vice minister Zhu Weiqun saying earlier this month that top Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping never gave a statement to the Tibetan leaders in late 1970s that “everything, except independence, could be discussed” between both sides.

“I am shocked to hear this from the Chinese side. Deng Xiaoping had clearly made this statement,” Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of the Dalai Lama and the first top Tibetan leader to establish contacts with China in 1970s, said here.

Though the Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, advocates the ‘middle path approach’ in seeking autonomy for Tibet under China, the younger generation of Tibetan leaders wants nothing short of independence for Tibet. Participants at the meeting are discussing both issues – autonomy and middle-path versus complete independence.

The Dalai Lama has been under pressure since March this year to find new focus for the Tibetan struggle to achieve something more, saying China is not doing anything to decide the future of Tibet. Thousands of Tibetans inside Tibet had erupted with protests in March-April this year, just four months before the Beijing Olympics, against Chinese rule there.

The Dalai Lama and over 100,000 Tibetans have been living in exile in India since 1959 when he fled from Tibet’s capital Lhasa after Chinese forces invaded it.