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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?"

Tibet Cabinet Says Talks With China Are Welcome

March 17, 2009

By EDWARD WONG
The New York Times
March 16, 2009

BEIJING -- The Tibetan government in exile in
India said over the weekend that it welcomed
further talks with China over policies in Tibet,
but reiterated that it was still seeking autonomy
for Tibetans as outlined in the Chinese Constitution.

Meanwhile, the first anniversary of widespread
Tibetan riots and protests against Chinese rule
passed this weekend without any reports of large-scale protests.

The Tibetan statement on talks was released late
Saturday in response to comments from Prime
Minister Wen Jiabao of China. Mr. Wen said in a
news conference in Beijing on Friday that China
was willing to hold further talks with the Dalai
Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, as
long as he renounced what Chinese officials consider to be separatism.

The Dalai Lama has long advocated genuine
autonomy rather than secession for Tibet, though
the Chinese government accuses him of inciting separatist violence.

Last week, the Dalai Lama, using unusually harsh
language, said China’s violent policies in Tibet
had transformed the mountain enclave into a "hell on earth."

In the statement released Saturday, the Tibetan
cabinet, the Kashag, underscored the Dalai Lama’s
rejection of independence for Tibet.

"On many occasions, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
has reiterated that he is not seeking separation
from the People’s Republic of China," the cabinet
said. "The Chinese premier’s allegations of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama seeking separation is far from the truth."

The cabinet said the Dalai Lama’s position, laid
out in a memorandum to Chinese officials last
October, sought "genuine autonomy" based on
rights enshrined in the Chinese Constitution. But
Chinese officials reacted negatively to the
memorandum, with one senior official saying the
Dalai Lama intended to split Tibet from China,
reinstate a theocracy and carry out “ethnic cleansing” of Han Chinese.

That reaction effectively ended, after eight
rounds, a series of talks between China and the
Dalai Lama, who lives in Dharamsala, India. The
new statements indicated that both sides were
still open to dialogue, though Tibetan officials
in India insisted that the October memorandum be the starting point.

"The memorandum clearly outlines the aspirations
of the Tibetan people strictly within the
constitutional principles of the People’s
Republic of China," the Kashag said. "Premier Wen
Jiabao appears to be trying to avoid
acknowledging this document by referring to some
past statements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

Saturday was the anniversary of ethnic riots last
year in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, after
protests by monks commemorating a failed uprising
in 1959 were suppressed by security forces.

The Chinese government has locked down the Tibetan regions of western China.
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