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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?"

Diplomatic Licence: Hello Dalai

April 29, 2008

By Anne Penketh
Independent
Sunday, 27 April 2008

China's offer of talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama "in the
coming days", which was reported prominently by the Chinese official
media, garnered some positive headlines for the Chinese government in
the West over the weekend, as Beijing appeared to be yielding to the
international calls for a dialogue to avert a boycott of the Olympic Games.

The Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the development was "positive"
but the Dalai Lama was much more cautious. So there is daylight between
the West and the Dalai's people on this.

China is well aware that Western governments value trade with Beijing
too highly to sacrifice relations on the altar of Tibet, but is prepared
to go some way to meet their human rights demands in order to save face
at the Olympic Games. But the Tibetan government in exile is holding out
for more. Its prime minister, Samdong Rinpoche said it would require
"normalcy" in Tibetan areas for the formal resumption of talks with
China, and called for a halt in the vilification of the Dalai Lama.

So far those demands have gone unheeded, and today, China was back in
default mode, accusing the spiritual leader of being behind the unrest
in Tibet, and saying that his real goal is independence. The Free Tibet
Campaign wants China to take a number of concrete steps to demonstrate
that it is prepared to move forward on the Tibet issue, including
withdrawing the Olympic torch relay from Tibet, readmitting foreign
media, and releasing all Tibetans detained since violence broke out on
10 March.

The Dalai himself will be in Britain on a week-long trip from 22 May,
which will give him an opportunity of briefing government officials on
his position. The parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee has called him
in to testify on Tibet human rights. He'll be speaking at the Albert
Hall on 22 May and holding five days of teaching at the Nottingham arena
over the bank holiday weekend.
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