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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dead end in Tibet

November 27, 2008

New Indian Express
November 26, 2008

As may have been expected, the recent conclave in Dharamsala of
Tibetans living in exile in 15 countries resolved nothing. Little
advance was made either on the subject of the dialogue with China or
the Dalai Lama's successor or the nature of the "freedom" movement.
 From this standpoint, the meeting was a reminder of the sad fate of
a "nation" that has become the unwitting victim of geo-political
realities over which it has no control. If no positive signals were
available about the negotiations with China, the reason was that
there had been no narrowing of the gulf separating the two sides.
While China may have agreed to the talks to assuage world opinion on
the eve of the Olympic Games and in the aftermath of the disturbances
in Tibet, it evidently has no intention of conceding any ground on
the Tibetan demand for greater autonomy.

The Dharamsala meeting may have introduced further complications in
the mutual relations in view of the Dalai Lama's suggestion that the
freedom of minorities is linked to the advent of democracy in China.
The appearance of a pro-democracy activist, who had escaped before
the Tiananmen Square crackdown, will not amuse Beijing. India, too,
may not be too pleased with the Tibetan pontiff 's remark that it has
been too cautious in its dealings with China. Nor with the
observation that the slogan of Hindi-Chini bhai bhai will not bear
fruit unless the Tibetan problem is solved because Beijing maintains
a huge army on the plateau.

Like the Tibetan-Chinese relations, there is uncertainty also about
the manner in which the Tibetans expect to attain their objective.
While one group prefers independence, the other, which is in the
majority, retains its faith in the Dalai Lama's conciliatory
approach. But the future of the institution itself is in doubt. As
the Dalai Lama has said, he was in a "semi-retired state" and that it
was up to the people to choose his successor. It could even be a
young girl or the office could cease to exist.

In any event, he appeared to be foreclosing the option of the Chinese
choosing his successor. He evidently does not want the Chinese to
reduce the office to what they have done to the position of the
Panchen Lama. Since the aspirations of the Tibetans are linked to the
larger-than-life image of the 79-year-old Dalai Lama, the succession
issue is of crucial importance. But the conclave failed to give any direction.
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