Tibetan exile political leader Lobsang Sangay reassured the Chinese leadership on Tuesday that Tibetans do not seek separation from China, but only a “genuine autonomy” under guarantees already provided under China’s constitution.
This autonomy should extend to all traditional Tibetan areas, though, including not only the central Tibet Autonomous Region but parts of the eastern Tibetan regions of Kham and Amdo formerly absorbed into Chinese provinces, Sangay said in a speech given in Dharamsala, India, the seat of Tibet’s exile government, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
“[The] division of Tibet into several provinces of China is a clear violation of Chinese laws and of Article 4 of the Constitution, which recognizes the right of minority nationalities to practice regional autonomy in the areas where they live in concentrated communities,” Sangay said, according to a report on the CTA website.
Tibetans living in Tibet’s three traditional regions of U-Tsang, Kham, and Amdo share the same culture, language, and religion, and should be governed by a single administration, Sangay said.
According to the report, Sangay “reassured China that Tibetans neither seek separation nor a ‘high degree of autonomy,’ but genuine autonomy for all Tibetan people under a single administration as guaranteed in the National Regional Autonomy Law and the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China.”
Sangay, who was elected Tibet’s exile prime minister in 2011 and now holds the title Sikyong or “political leader,” spoke as Tibetans around the world celebrated the 24th anniversary of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
“The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his consistent resistance to the use of violence in his people’s struggle for freedom strengthened and catapulted the Tibetan struggle to greater international visibility,” Sangay said.
In remarks addressing Tibetans living in Tibet, Sangay acknowledged their “unbearable” suffering under Beijing’s rule.
“Though we remain separated by political force, we will never stop working to be reunited with basic freedoms and with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tibet.”
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.
Talks on Tibet’s status between envoys of the Dalai Lama and Beijing have stalled since January 2010, and there has been no breakthrough in the discussions, which have been held since 2002.
'Unique Tibetan identity'
Though Chinese leaders have claimed that Tibetan exile proposals for autonomous rule seek eventually to expel “all Chinese” from Tibetan areas now ruled by China, this “is not our intention,” Sangay said.
But Tibetan areas governed by an autonomous administration should have Tibetan-majority populations in order to support the “preservation and promotion of the unique Tibetan identity,” Sangay said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
A total of 124 Tibetans in China have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.