Tibetan Envoys to China Talks Quit

Two representatives of the Dalai Lama involved in stalled talks with Beijing have resigned.
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A file photo of the Dalai Lama's special envoys Lodi Gyari (R) and Kelsang Gyaltsen (L) at a press conference in Dharamsala, India.
A file photo of the Dalai Lama's special envoys Lodi Gyari (R) and Kelsang Gyaltsen (L) at a press conference in Dharamsala, India.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's envoys to negotiations with Beijing for greater autonomy in the troubled region have resigned, saying they are frustrated by the Chinese leadership's refusal to restart the stalled negotiations.

The ninth round of the secretive talks were held in January 2010 after a 14-month hiatus. There has been no breakthrough in the discussions that have been held since 2002.

Envoys Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen "expressed their utter frustration over the lack of positive response from the Chinese side and submitted their resignations" to Lobsang Sangay, the head of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile at a May 30-31 meeting.

“Given the deteriorating situation inside Tibet since 2008 leading to the increasing cases of self-immolations by Tibetans, we are compelled to submit our resignations," a statement from the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said.

The Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department, which represents Beijing in the talks, also did not respond positively to proposals for "genuine autonomy" for the Tibetan people presented in 2008 and 2010, the statement added.

"One of the key Chinese interlocutors in the dialogue process even advocated abrogation of minority status as stipulated in the Chinese constitution thereby seeming to remove the basis of autonomy. At this particular time, it is difficult to have substantive dialogue,” the two envoys said in their resignation letter.

The CTA has said it hopes to continue with the negotiations with Beijing.

Sangay, who was elected prime minister of the exile parliament last year after the Dalai Lama stepped down as the political leader of the Tibetan people, "regretfully accepted" the resignations, effective June 1, 2012, the statement said.

Middle-way approach

The exile cabinet urged Beijing to accept the Dalai Lama's "middle-way" approach, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibetans within China and within the framework of the Chinese constitution, the statement said.

"This is a win-win proposition, which contributes to PRC’s [People's Republic of China's] unity, stability, harmony and its peaceful rise in the world."

A Tibetan task force on the negotiations with Beijing will be expanded and will meet again in December to discuss the Chinese leadership transition with the hope of continuing a dialogue with the new Chinese leaders to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet, the statement said.

"The Tibetan leadership remains firmly committed to non-violence and the middle-way approach, and strongly believes that the only way to resolve the issue of Tibet is through dialogue. The Tibetan leadership considers substance to be primary and process as secondary, and is ready to engage in meaningful dialogue anywhere and at anytime."

China has ruled Tibet since 1950, and the Chinese government has repeatedly accused exiled Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, of stoking dissent against its rule. The spiritual leader fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

Tibetans have increasingly criticized Chinese policies which they say are discriminatory and have robbed them of their rights.

Thirty-eight Tibetans have self-immolated so far in a bid to push for an end to Beijing's rule and the return of the exiled Dalai Lama.

Some analysts say Beijing is unlikely to soften its stance against the protesting Tibetans ahead of the once-in-a-decade leadership succession in the ruling Chinese Community Party at the end of the year.

The resignation of the two envoys came amid the transition in Beijing and the Tibetan exile government, they said.

"The transition in China, transition in Dharamsala and the situation in Tibet does not provide the kind of confidence, atmosphere in which the talks can take place," said Mary Beth Markey, president of the Washington-based advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet.

"It's a combination of situations that has made the decision for the envoys to step down," she told RFA.

Asked on the next step, she said, "It is for Dharamsala to study the transition in China and make some determination."

The Dalai Lama has lived in northern India since fleeing his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Reported by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.





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