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Australia MPs rebuff China's anger

July 6, 2009

By Phurbu Thinley
Phayul July 03, 2009

Dharamsala, July 3: Six-member Australian federal parliamentary delegation
Friday rebuked the Chinese anger against their ongoing visit here.

The unofficial delegation comprising of three senators and three members of
the Australian House of representatives are on a six-day visit, starting
Wednesday. On Thursday they met with the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness
the Dalai Lama and representatives of the Tibet's government in exile.

Chinese embassy in Canberra has reacted angrily to the delegation's visit
saying the visit constitutes interference in China's internal affairs.

Calling themselves "representatives of the Australian All-Party
Parliamentary Group for Tibet", the delegation said the routine Chinese
protests had no justification.

At a press conference here this afternoon, the delegation instead suggested
China to initiate constructive efforts in solving the Tibet question.

"The pressure that we have come under is actually trivial as to the pressure
that Tibetan people have come under the exile community and the people in
Tibet," Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, a member of the delegation, said
responding to a question from media.

"We strongly .... disagree with the statements made by Chinese officials in
Australia. Solving the Tibet question is something that unfortunately, by
the actions of the Chinese government, has become a matter of concern to the
entire world. It is not an internal Chinese question, never has been,"
Ludlam added.

"So we are very very happy here (in Dharamsala) to be given much more direct
and much more personal insight into these issues," Ludlam said.

"The best thing that the Chinese government could do to diffuse the
situation is actually to open up Tibet, open up its borders, allow free
media to enter and allow Tibetans to move freely and speak freely," Senator
Sarah Hanson- Young, the youngest member in the group said. "That would be
the best thing that the Chinese government could do for their own global
reputation," Young said.

"Our visit may be unofficial, but the fact that we are here (in Dharamsala)
reflects the support and concern of the parliamentarians and people of
Australia have for Tibet," Labor MP Michael Danby, who is Chair of the
All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and is heading the delegation, said.

The delegation also issued a joint statement in which they expressed
"disappointment at the Chinese Government's outright rejection" of the
"Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People".

The delegation maintained that the memorandum was a "detailed proposal for
meeting the needs of the Tibetan people within existing provisions in the
Constitution of the People's Republic of China".

"We support the memorandum as a basis for constructive negotiations on
Tibet's future and will continue to encourage the Chinese Government to
enter into sincere and substantive discussions with the Dalai Lama or his
representatives," the statement said.

In the statement, the delegation said they strongly supported "His Holiness
the Dalai Lama's Middle-Way proposal for a peacefully negotiated settlement
of the Tibetan situation" and expressed regret that the "Tibet-China
dialogue has so far failed to bring genuine progress towards a mutually
acceptable resolution."

"Religious repression, "patriotic education" and undemocratic
social-economic reforms, including the forced settlement of nomads" have
fanned the flames of unrest in Tibet and brought untold suffering to the
Tibetan people' last year," the statement said.

"Our delegation reflects all major parties of the Australian Parliament and
is testimony to the depth and breadth of support in Australia for a peaceful
resolution of the Tibetan situation," the delegation said, adding "We speak
also on behalf of many Parliamentary colleagues and friends in the
Australian community who are unable to join us in person."

According to the delegation, Australia is home home to over six hundred
Tibetans. "This growing community has become a cherished part of our
multi-cultural landscape and we are very grateful for the contribution that
Tibetan people and their culture have made to Australian society," the
delegation said.

The delegation said they were now looking forward for Dalai Lama's "return
to Australia" later this year.

The Tibetan leader, who will turn 74 on Monday, is scheduled to visit
Australia sometime in December.
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