Hundreds of Tibetan exiles meeting in India called on Friday for an end to self-immolation protests by Tibetans challenging Chinese rule and warned Beijing that it will have to bear “full responsibility” for any further deterioration of Tibetan rights, according to the Tibetan government in exile.
In a series of recommendations issued at the conclusion of a Special General Meeting held in the hill-town of Dharamsala, seat of the exile government and home to exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, more than 400 delegates from 26 countries called the fiery protests by Tibetans “the highest form of non-violent action,” the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said in a statement.
Nevertheless, the meeting expressed “grave concern” over the burnings and urged Tibetans inside Tibet not to take “drastic actions,” the CTA said at the end of the four-day meeting convened to discuss the “crisis” in Tibet following the self-immolations.
“Tibet is a thinly populated country, and in the present situation losing even one life is a great loss for the Tibetan people,” delegates to the meeting declared in the seventh of a list of 31 recommendations and resolutions.
“Please preserve your lives in the future,” they said.
Similar expressions of concern from exile figures and from the Dalai Lama himself over the burnings have gone largely unheeded in the past, with 51 Tibetans having set fire to themselves to date to challenge Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and call for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
Wider support sought
The meeting held at the Tibetan Children’s Village school was the largest gathering of exile Tibetans since the Special General Meeting called in 2008 following widespread protests across Tibetan areas of China that resulted in a brutal crackdown by security forces.
Delegates to this week’s meeting—including members of Tibetan organizations based in India, the United States, Europe, and other countries—formed committees to discuss proposals for ending the crisis and for gaining wider international support for Tibetan rights.
Discussions were restricted, though, to proposals put forward within the framework of the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way policy, which calls only for greater autonomy for Tibetans living in Tibetan-populated areas of China, and not for a return to independence.
“The meeting resolved to pursue the Middle Way policy to find a meaningful solution through dialogue with the Chinese government,” the CTA said in its statement.
It also called on the cabinet of the exile government to raise awareness of the Middle Way policy and its proposals among the Chinese people themselves, the CTA said, adding that consistent appeals for support should also be made to the United Nations, the European Union, and other world bodies.
International calls for China to address Tibetan concerns are routinely brushed aside by Chinese diplomats, who assert China’s right to rule the Himalayan region it invaded more than 50 years ago.
Noting that Tibetan religion, culture, and language “are being annihilated in Tibet under the Chinese government’s repressive policies,” delegates to the meeting urged Tibetans living in exile to protect and preserve their traditions.
Placing final responsibility on China for an end to the crisis in Tibet, though, delegates to the meeting strongly urged Chinese leaders to end their “hardline policies” in the region, the CTA said in its statement.
“China should take full responsibility for the further deterioration of the situation if they fail to reform its wrong policies,” the CTA said.
Reported by Richard Finney.