November 22, 2008

Tibet Special Assembly Affirms His Holiness, the Dalai Lama's Middle Way

Let's keep our thoughts focused on clarity and truth for the Tibetan cause. The future will support an honest assessment of the issues, and rangzen will prevail!

Tibet Government-in-Exile Breaks Off Talks With China (Update2)

By James Rupert

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The Tibetan government-in-exile, headed by the Dalai Lama, decided to break off stalled negotiations with China over Tibet’s future, leaders of the exile parliament said today.

Dolma Gyari

The exile government, based in northern India, “will not send envoys for further contacts” with China after eight rounds of talks failed to produce results, said Dolma Gyari, the deputy speaker of the legislature.

Future policy in the Tibetan campaign for greater autonomy from China will be determined by the Dalai Lama and will always be nonviolent, she and other parliament leaders said in the town of Dharamsala.

The Tibetan exiles’ declaration of no confidence in China as a negotiating partner “probably reflects an increasing erosion of faith among Tibetans inside China as well,” said Robbie Barnett, a professor of Tibetan studies at Columbia University in New York. “That will represent a major political challenge for the Chinese government,” he said.

The decision to end talks was made by a “special general meeting” of more than 500 delegates summoned by the Dalai Lama, 73, after China rejected his proposal for “genuine autonomy” in the latest set of talks this month in Beijing.

The meeting endorsed the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” policy toward China, which specifies a nonviolent campaign to win autonomy under the Chinese constitution for Tibet, rather than independence.

Karma Choephel

Self-Determination, Autonomy

Gyari and parliament speaker Karma Choephel summarized the decisions for journalists after the close of the week-long meeting, and declined to answer questions.

The meeting reflected growing frustration among Tibetans with their inability to loosen China’s 47-year-long rule of their Central Asian mountain homeland.

“Quite a number” of delegates said Tibetans should sharpen their demand to include self-determination, rather than autonomy, if China does not respond to their aspirations “in the near future,” Choephel said.

A call for self-determination would effectively demand full independence, say Tibetan activists such as Tenzin Tsundue, 33, a delegate to the meeting. “The demand for autonomy is a policy, but eventually, Tibet must become independent.”

[...] The exile Tibetan authorities say more than 200 people died in the [March 2008] protests and the subsequent crackdown by Chinese soldiers and police. The crackdown continues eight months later, with more than 100 people having been sentenced to prison, said Tashi Choephel, a researcher with the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

“I have to accept failure, things are not improving in Tibet,” the Dalai Lama told journalists on Nov. 3. Since last year, that sense of failure has spread in the Tibetan exile community, spawning a Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement that calls for “direct action to end China’s illegal and brutal occupation of our country.”

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rupert in Islamabad at

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