Join our Mailing List

"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Young Tibetan exiles push for declaration of independence from China

November 21, 2008

The Canadian Press
November 19, 2008

DHARMSALA, India -- A summit of Tibetan exiles is turning into a
clash of generations over the direction of their struggle against China.

Many young leaders - some of whom have only seen their homeland from
across the Himalayas in India - are pushing for a declaration of
independence from China. However, much of the older guard, who
witnessed firsthand China's military might, are standing by the Dalai
Lama's path of compromise.

The divide is not absolute - there are a handful of older Tibetans
who favour guerrilla attacks inside China, and some younger ones who
want dialogue with Beijing. But the generations are sharply split in
Dharmsala, the north Indian hill town where the Dalai Lama fled with
his followers after a failed 1959 uprising against China.

The tug-of-war over the future of the Tibetan movement comes after
the Tibetan spiritual leader publicly expressed frustration over the
failure of his "middle way" approach to yield greater autonomy for the region.

"I see a huge disparity" between the generations, said Tenzin
Tsundue, 33, a poet and participant in the meeting.

"The younger generation, most of them speak for independence and that
there should be no compromise with China. The elderly generation is
completely supportive of the Dalai Lama's middle way approach, which
he said is not working."

The weeklong meeting of nearly 600 exile leaders in Dharmsala, now
the base of Tibet's self-proclaimed government-in-exile, represents
the first major re-evaluation of the Tibetan strategy since the Dalai
Lama won the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize for outlining his policy, which
rejects calls for outright independence.

It is a clash that has been brewing for a long time, and was
sharpened by the March uprising of Tibetans across western China that
Beijing aggressively put down. The violent protests, including some
led by monks, were the biggest challenge to Chinese rule in Tibet in
nearly two decades.

Until then, almost all Tibetan groups at least paid lip service to
the middle way, kept in line by the Dalai Lama's vast spiritual authority.

But during the March uprising, younger radical groups, led by the
Tibetan Youth Congress, openly defied the Dalai Lama, staging
provocative protest marches toward the Tibetan border against his will.

Now, further emboldened by the Dalai Lama's acknowledgment that his
path has borne no fruit, they are agitating for real change.

"We need to have a strategy. It's the middle way right now. But that
has been a failure," Tsewang Rigzin, president of the Tibetan Youth
Congress, told The Associated Press ahead of the meeting.

Independence was the only solution, he said.

"We have history on our side; we have truth on our side. We know the
Chinese - there's no way we can live under China," said Rigzin.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank