Tibet’s India-based exile government and parliament are set to host a four-day special meeting to discuss ways to end the crisis in Tibet, where people have stepped up their protests, including self-immolations, against Chinese rule, in the face of what they call increasing repression from the authorities.
Fifty-one Tibetans have set fire to themselves over the last two years to protest Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and to call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
The Dharamsala meeting beginning Tuesday is expected to draw up to 600 participants from the Tibetan exile community, with members of international Tibet support groups and other interested persons attending as witnesses, according to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government in exile.
The meeting, called by the Dalai Lama, will “discuss ways and means to deal with the urgent and critical situation inside Tibet,” the CTA said on its website. It has been touted as the biggest assembly of Tibetan exiles in four years.
“His Holiness said considering the recent crisis inside Tibet and the situation in the world in general, the special general meeting would be held under the article 59 of the Charter of the Tibetans-in-Exile,” the CTA said.
The meeting will feature various sessions dealing with “new campaigns” to be carried out by the Tibetan community and at the international level to help resolve the Tibetan issue, it said.
The gathering will discuss ways to increase support for the Tibetan freedom struggle among foreign governments and to promote dialogue with the new batch of Chinese leaders following a once-a-decade leadership change expected to take place by the end of the year.
Protests to continue
Tibetan groups say the wave of self-immolation protests will continue until the underlying human rights and other problems in Tibetan-populated areas are addressed by the Chinese authorities.
“Tibetans everywhere understand why such drastic actions are taken, given the repression by the Chinese government and the unbearable conditions inside Tibet,” Lobsang Sangay, the Tibetan prime minister, told Agence France-Presse ahead of the talks
“This week we must formulate ways to ensure that the cries and suffering in Tibet do not go in vain.”
He earlier told The Diplomat, an Asia-Pacific online journal, that the situation inside Tibet “is very grave, and Tibetans inside Tibet are suffering tremendously.”
“Given the severity of the situation, mainly because of self-immolations and repressive policies inside Tibet, our discussion [at the Special General Meeting] will focus on how best to address the situation,” Sangay said.
“We would like to see concrete action from the international community,” Sangay added.
Tibetan parliament in exile Speaker Penpa Tsering urged political unity among Tibetans in advance of this week’s meeting.
To avoid sending “mixed messages” to Beijing,” Tibetans should support the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Policy, which calls only for “genuine autonomy” for Tibetans living under Chinese rule and not for independence, Tsering said.
In June, envoys of the Dalai Lama quit their posts as representatives to talks with China on the question of Tibet’s status, citing “utter frustration over the lack of positive response from the Chinese side.”
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.
Reported by Richard Finney.