October 29, 2008

Tibet: Dalai Lama Calls Special Meeting

Active ImageThe future of the Tibetan struggle will be discussed in a five-day meeting due to take place in November.

 

Below is an article published by The International Herald Tribune:

The Dalai Lama has called a special meeting of Tibetan exiles to discuss the future of their struggle as talks with China have foundered, officials said Tuesday [28 October 2008].

The unusual meeting comes after the Dalai Lama told Tibetans on Saturday [25 October 2008] that he has given up on efforts to persuade Beijing to allow greater autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule and he would now ask the Tibetan people to decide how to take the dialogue forward.

The five-day meeting, scheduled for mid-November [2008], will be attended by representatives of all the Tibetan exile communities and political organizations, said Karma Choephal, speaker of the self-declared Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

The meeting could mark a significant shift in the Tibetan strategy for confronting China, long dominated by the Dalai Lama's "middle way," which rejected calls for outright independence but argued that greater autonomy was needed to preserve Tibet's unique Buddhist culture.

Choephal said the meeting would be held from Nov. 17-22 [2008] in the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala, where the Dalai Lama has had his headquarters since fleeing Tibet in 1959 in the wake of a failed uprising against China.

"Anything can come up in the meeting," Choephal told The Associated Press. "The outcome of the meeting will have a democratic and moral bearing on the future thinking of the Tibetan leadership."

He said this was the first time the Dalai Lama had called such a meeting since the exiles adopted their charter in 1991, which gave the government in exile the authority to speak on behalf of the Tibetan people.

On Saturday [25 October 2008], the Dalai Lama told a public function in Dharmsala that he has "been sincerely pursuing the middle way approach in dealing with China for a long time now, but there hasn't been any positive response from the Chinese side."

"As far as I'm concerned I have given up," he said in an unusually blunt statement.

The surprising move from the 73-year-old Nobel peace prize winner comes at a tumultuous time for the Tibetans.

[...]

[In March following demonstrations] China launched a massive crackdown in Tibet and a broad swath of Tibetan regions in the country's west. Tibetan exile groups said at least 140 people died. More than 1,000 people were detained, although human rights groups say the number could be higher.

The Dalai Lama, who is deeply revered among Tibetans, was hospitalized in August and October [2008] with health problems and had to cancel a series of trips abroad. Doctors said he was suffering from exhaustion. He had gallstones removed before doctors pronounced him healthy.

Many Tibetans insist they were an independent nation before Communist troops invaded in 1950, while Beijing says the Himalayan region has been part of its territory for centuries.

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