China's refusal to accept the "reality" of the situation in Tibet and to compromise on Tibetan demands are key reasons for rising protests against Beijing's rule in the region, the head of Tibet’s exile government told RFA Tuesday.
Lobsang Sangay—kalon tripa, or head of the India-based Central Tibetan Administration—said that he remains open, though, to talks with China on questions concerning Tibet.
“We are always ready to talk with Chinese leaders anytime and anywhere,” said Sangay, who is on a visit to Washington where he will testify at a congressional hearing and meet lawmakers and officials.
“The problem lies with China’s rigid attitude and denial of reality” regarding Tibetan concerns, he said.
Tibetans have stepped up their protests against Chinese rule following a crackdown on monasteries and alleged human rights abuses by security forces.
Nine Tibetan monks and one nun have set themselves ablaze as part of the protests in self-immolations so far this year.
In the latest crackdown, Chinese authorities have banned religious activities and harassed monks at the ancient Karma monastery in Tibet's Chamdo prefecture following a bomb explosion at a government building there last week.
Nearly all the monks at the monastery in Dzagyu Karma township where the blast occurred have fled the institution, saying they cannot bear the pressure piled on them by Chinese security forces.
Chinese authorities have blamed Tibet's spirtual leader the Dalai Lama, who is living in exile in India, for the tense situation, saying he is encouraging the self-immolations, which run contrary to Buddhist teachings.
But the Dalai Lama has shot back, blaming China's "ruthless and illogical" policy towards Tibet.
He called on the Chinese government to change its "repressive" policies in Tibet, citing the crackdown on monasteries and policies curtailing use of the Tibetan language.
Tensions in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in Tibetan-populated areas in China's provinces have not subsided since anti-China riots swept through the Tibetan Plateau in March 2008.
Speaking to RFA, Sangay pledged that his administration will continue the Middle-Way Policy of the Dalai Lama, from whom he inherited full political power over Tibetan exile affairs following his election this year.
That policy, in a compromise gesture so far rejected by China, calls not for Tibetan independence, but for “genuine autonomy” for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China.
“There has been no major shift in the policy of this kashag [administration] in dealing with China from that of the previous exile administration,” Sangay said.
“However, I believe it is very important to project the real situation inside Tibet to the world.”
Foreign help sought
Referring to the wave of self-immolations, Sangay said, “The actions of Tibetans who pour gasoline over themselves are clear indications of their desperation and frustration and of the urgency of the situation inside Tibet.”
“We have appealed to over 20 different world leaders to influence the Chinese leadership to resume dialogue with Tibetan leaders, and many foreign ministries have now issued letters calling on China to resume talks,” Sangay said.
Sangay said that he has also called on foreign governments and international organizations to send teams to investigate conditions in Tibet.
“Now I have come to Washington … to seek support from those who make decisions.”
On Wednesday, he will speak to reporters at the National Press Club, and on Thursday he will testify before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan congressional panel dealing with international rights issues.
The hearing will explore alleged human rights abuses facing Tibetans both in and outside of China, the commission said.
Sangay "will describe the need for sustainment and resettlement of refugees from Tibet," among other topics, it said.
Nepal, home to around 20,000 Tibetan refugees, is under increasing pressure from Beijing to rein in the exiles. The Nepal authorities have also been advised by the Chinese authorities against allowing any “anti-China activity” by Tibetans living in the country.
On Tuesday, Nepal police arrested more than 100 Tibetan exiles as they gathered to pray for Tibetans in their homeland who self-immolated to protest against Chinese rule, the Associated Press reported.
They were among about 400 Tibetans, including 150 monks, who participated in the prayer meeting on the outskirts of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.
Reported by Dhondup Gonsar for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.