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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Exclusive: We are scared, says Tibet PM-in-exile

July 25, 2008

Claude Arpi
Sify News
July 23, 2008

* Candle in the Wind?

On March 10, unrest erupted in Tibet. While the Chinese said Tibetans
had attacked Han Chinese, looting their businesses and homes in
Lhasa, the Tibetan government in exile said the spontaneous peaceful
demonstrations only expressed the resentment of a population
suppressed under China's colonial rule for the past 58 years.

Since then, the protests have been ruthlessly quelled by the Chinese
authorities all over the Tibetan populated areas.

It is in this context that a new round of talks was held in Beijing
on July 1 and 2 between the Dalai Lama's Representatives and the
Chinese authorities. Before the meeting, many thought that Beijing
would have to make some concessions to the Tibetans in the true
spirit of the Olympics. It was not to be so.

`I don`t think the Dalai Lama is qualified to represent Tibet. If he
ever did, it was before 1959, ` declared Dong Yunhu, the new
director-general of the information office of the State Council.

Claude Arpi travelled to Dharamsala and met Prof Samdhong Rinpoche,
the Gandhian scholar and Prime Minister of the Tibetan
government-in-exile, for his views on the situation inside Tibet and
the current dialogue with Beijing.

Image: Lobsang Tenzin, better known as Professor Samdhong Rinpoche,
the Kalon Tripa, or Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in
exile, lights a candle after inaugurating a Tibetan Library in South
India. A close associate of the Dalai Lama, he was elected Prime
Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration, based in Dharamsala,
India, in 2001. Picture courtesy Claude Arpi. Any unauthorised
reproduction is prohibited.

* 'Peaceful' Protests

Could you tell us your feelings after the 7th round of talks between
your Envoys and the Chinese officials in Beijing on July 1 and 2?

The 6th Round of dialogue was held at the beginning of July last
year. We requested the People's Republic of China (PRC) to have a 7th
round within the year 2007. In case that was not possible, we wanted
it to be held latest by February 2008. Otherwise it should be
postponed till the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009.

Why?

We felt that it was not proper to engage the Chinese during the
Olympic Year. We knew that they would be busy and the world would
have different expectations [towards China]. We thought of keeping a
low profile till the Games were completed. But things did not go the
way that we had expected. Since March 10 this year, Tibet witnessed
widespread protests. They were not localized in one place, it
occurred in all regions where Tibetan 'nationalities' are living,
including in Beijing where some Tibetan youth are studying. These
peaceful protests which erupted everywhere were very very heavily put
down. So much violence and force has been used against the
protesters! The reaction of the world was quite forceful, so His
Holiness [the Dalai Lama] thought that it was not the appropriate
time to keep quiet, and that he should reach out to the People's
Republic of China. He decided to write a letter to President Hu
Jintao to ask him not to use force inside Tibet. He also said that if
there was any way he could help to bring back normalcy in Tibet, he
was willing to do it.

Image: A shop burns during protests in Maqu, western China`s Gansu
province, Tuesday, March 18, 2008. Chinese state media acknowledged
that anti-government riots had spread to other provinces after
rocking Tibet in early March, as communist authorities announced the
first group of arrests for the violence. (AP Photo/Free Tibet
Campaign) Any unauthorised reproduction is prohibited.

* The Three Stops

This letter has not been made public?

No, it is not public. Thereafter, our two Envoys had informal
discussions with the PRC's counterparts on May 4 in Shenzhen near
Hong Kong. It was during this discussion that it was decided to have
the 7th round of talks sometimes in June. It did not materialize in
June, but was finally held on July 1 and 2 in Beijing. The talks did
not bring any results. We are quite disappointed. It was not proper
to have the 7th Round in haste. The PRC's authorities were busy with
the earthquake relief and the organization of the Olympics. So
despite the fact that the 7th round was held, no tangible results
could be achieved. This gives a very negative impression to the
people inside Tibet as well as the people who are supporting us worldwide.

The Chinese authorities have put new conditions?

During the informal talks in May, the Chinese called for Three Stops:
Stop separatist activities, Stop violence inside Tibet, Stop
sabotaging the Olympic Games.

During the 7th round, the Three Stops were changed into Four Not
Supporting: (not supporting separatist activities, not supporting
violence, not supporting the sabotage of the Olympic Games and not
supporting the Youth Congress).

This was in Shenzhen or in Beijing?

The Three Stops were in Shenzhen and the Four Not-Supporting in
Beijing. The Chinese officials said they are very liberal, and since
His Holiness has himself declared that he is not engaged in any of
these activities, they accept his stand. But now he should actively
not-support, meaning he should oppose those who carry on such
activities. It means a change in their stand. At this moment we are
very much worried about what will happen inside Tibet after the
Olympics. What will happen there at the ground level?

Have the Chinese authorities in Tibet freed all the prisoners? I read
a communiqué stating that they freed 1,000 people."

Maybe. It is possible. The world is powerless. Nothing can stop them
doing whatever they want. At this moment, nobody has been sentenced
to death, though many people were killed in March.

* Distant Dream

In different parts of Tibet?

Yes, everywhere. Though no death sentence has been handed over till
now, the point is that thousands are still of undergoing trial. And
After the Olympic Games are over, the Chinese authorities will
probably come down very heavily on them. They will also bring more
[armed] forces inside Tibet and increase the transfer of [Han] population.

The post Olympics is therefore more dangerous than the present
moment. The Chinese are always talking of violence and terrorism from
our side, which is clearly impossible. Though they keep mentioning
this, no Tibetan will indulge in violence or terrorism.

Recently, some news circulated on the Internet saying that there is a
Tibetan Liberation Army and that they recruited suicide bombers. It
appears that this [rumour] was instigated by the PRC itself. We can't
believe that Tibetans will do such things. We have also received
other information that there will be disturbances in Dharamsala and
other important places where Tibetans are settled during the
Olympics. Under different pretexts (such as the Shugden cult),
sabotage, destruction or conflict with the local people could be
created. We are scared at the moment.

What has been the reaction of the Government of India to these threats?

The Government of India is very alert. They are doing whatever they
can do to prevent such things to happen.

Do you feel that within the Chinese government some officials are
more open and realize that a deal with the Dalai Lama is ultimately
the best thing for the PRC?

That is very clear, the (Chinese) leadership is vertically divided.
But for the time being the hardliners have prevailed and the liberals
have been sidelined. The situation inside Tibet as well as the
Olympics has compelled the liberals to lay low and the hardliners
have kept the upper hand.

There is a great nationalist movement within China today.

That is why nothing can happen now.

The Dalai Lama recently mentioned (in Ajmer) a Five Point proposal
that he has received from Beijing? Are you aware of it?

I have no idea. This probably refers to an old proposal [a Memorandum
from the Chinese Government to the Dalai Lama in 1981. These Five
Points only refer to the future status of the Dalai Lama if he
returns to China]. There is nothing new.

Are you optimistic?

Of course we are optimistic for the future, but not for the near future.

Is it not a race against time as the Chinese are resettling more and
more migrants into Tibet?

Yes, it is a race. The PRC has full control over Tibet and can do
whatever they wish. Today in the world, nobody has the power to stop them.

Image: Tibetan monks stand on the road above the Dongzhuling
Monastery in the mountains about 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of the
border with Tibet, in southwestern China`s Yunnan province, Sunday,
March 23, 2008. Tibetan areas in Yunnan appear to be quiet since
anti-government protests broke out in Tibet earlier this month, but
China has sent thousands of paramilitary troops to the Tibetan area
in Yunnan as an apparent precaution. Originally built in 1667, the
monastery was later destroyed after China`s communist takeover, then
rebuilt in its new location. Image copyright AP. Any unauthorised
reproduction is prohibited.

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