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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?"

WikiLeaks cables: Dalai Lama called for focus on climate, not politics, in Tibet

December 19, 2010

Exiled Buddhist leader told US ambassador to India that 'political
agenda should be sidelined' in favour of climate issues

Jason Burke in Delhi

www.guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 December 2010 21.30 GMT

The Dalai Lama told US diplomats last year that the international
community should focus on climate change rather than politics in Tibet
because environmental problems were more urgent, secret American cables
reveal.

The exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader told Timothy Roemer, the US
ambassador to India, that the "political agenda should be sidelined for
five to 10 years and the international community should shift its focus
to climate change on the Tibetan plateau" during a meeting in Delhi last
August.

"Melting glaciers, deforestation and increasingly polluted water from
mining projects were problems that 'cannot wait', but the Tibetans could
wait five to 10 years for a political solution," he was reported as saying.

Though the Dalai Lama has frequently raised environmental issues, he has
never publicly suggested that political questions take second place, nor
spoken of any timescale with such precision.

Roemer speculated, in his cable to Washington reporting the meeting,
that "the Dalai Lama's message may signal a broader shift in strategy to
reframe the Tibet issue as an environmental concern".

In their meeting, the ambassador reported, the Dalai Lama criticised
China's energy policy, saying dam construction in Tibet had displaced
thousands of people and left temples and monasteries underwater.

He recommended that the Chinese authorities compensate Tibetans for
disrupting their nomadic lifestyle with vocational training, such as
weaving, and said there were "three poles" in danger of melting ? the
north pole, the south pole, and "the glaciers at the pole of Tibet".

The cables also reveal the desperate appeals made by the Dalai Lama for
intervention by the US during unrest in Tibet during spring 2008.

As a heavy crackdown followed demonstrations and rioting, he pleaded
with US officials to take action that would "make an impact" in Beijing.

At the end of one 30-minute meeting, a cable reports that the Dalai Lama
embraced the embassy's officials and "made a final plea".

"Tibet is a dying nation. We need America's help," he was reported as
saying.

Other cables reveal US fears that the influence of the 75-year-old Dalai
Lama over the Tibetan community in exile might be waning or that a
succession to his leadership could pose problems.

In June 2008, officials reported that their visit to six Tibetan refugee
settlements across north and north-eastern India "underscores concerns
that frustrated and dissatisfied Tibetan youth ... could pose serious
problems".

"A widening generational divide finds Tibetan leaders unable to resolve
growing dissatisfaction among younger Tibetans," the officials said.

In February, following the ninth round of talks in Beijing between the
Tibetan government in exile, known as the Central Tibetan

Administration (CTA), and Chinese officials, US diplomats predicted that
"the Chinese government's international credibility on human rights will
continue to decline as Tibetans gain further access to media tools".

In a section of the cable entitled "A militant Shangri-La?", a reference
to the fictional mythical Himalayan kingdom, the officials explained:

"Their frustration's effect on the Tibetan movement could be exacerbated
by the passage of time, as the Dalai Lama's increasing age inevitably
slows down his gruelling travel schedule and his potential ability to
continue to capture the world's attention on his people's plight."

A final point, made repeatedly by officials, is that the Indian
government's policy towards the Tibetans in exile is likely to be
decided by public sentiment.

In one confidential cable of March 2008, an official told Washington
that Shiv Shankar Menon, the current Indian national security adviser
and then India's top diplomat, had explained to the US ambassador that
though "the Tibetan movement has the sympathy of the Indian public, and
India has been a generally supportive home to tens of thousands of
Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, for nearly 50 years ... the tacit
agreement that Tibetans are welcome in India as long as they don't cause
problems is being challenged at a time when India's complex relationship
with Beijing is churning with border issues, rivalry for regional
influence, a growing economic interdependence, the nascent stages of
joint military exercises, and numerous other priorities".

The US officials concluded that "while the [government of India] will
never admit it", New Delhi's "balancing act with India's Tibetans
[would] continue for the foreseeable future, with the caveat that a rise
in violence ? either by Tibetans here or by the Chinese security forces
in Tibet ? could quickly tip the balance in favour of the side with
greater public support".
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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