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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Australia MPs coming to Dharamsala

July 2, 2009

Phayul June 30, 2009

Dharamsala, June 30: Australian parliamentarians are visiting this northern
India hill station this week to meet the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness
the Dalai Lama and representatives of Tibet's Government-in-Exile based
here.

The unofficial delegation comprises the Labor MPs Michael Danby and Melissa
Parke, Liberal MP Peter Slipper, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and
Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Sarah Hanson-Young. Many of them are
members of Australia's All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.

The delegation will also be accompanied by a handful of lawyers, journalists
and activists from Australia.

The delegation will be in Dharamsala from July 1 to 6, and are expected to
take part in the public celebrations of the Dalai Lama's 74th birthday on
July 6.

Over the six-day visit, the group will also have meetings representatives of
the Tibetan parliament and the Tibetan cabinet, as well as newly arrived
refugees and former political prisoners.

This will be the first such visit by a delegation of Australian MPs.

"A lot of us feel that the non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people to
preserve their culture and identity and their very modest political aims for
cultural autonomy within the Chinese state is something that we identify
with for different reasons," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Danby, who has
long campaigned for the human rights of Tibetans and is heading the
delegation, as saying.

Mr Danby is also the Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.

"This is a significant step in Australia's support for a peaceful resolution
of the Tibetan situation. It is also a unique opportunity for Australian
parliamentarians to learn first-hand about the challenges facing the Tibetan
people and Tibetan culture," he said.

However, the report also said it expected tensions between China and
Australia would increase with the visit by federal parliamentarians to
Dharamsala.

In March this year, Mr Danby defied a written request from Chinese
Ambassador to not speak at an event in Canberra marking the 50th Anniversary
of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising. Danby retorted saying, "China has to
understand the democratic norms of Australia".

At the event on the lawns of Parliament House, MPs and Senators from all
political parties reportedly took to the stage and spoke passionately in
support Tibetans' right to genuine autonomy and in condemnation of China's
intensifying crackdown in Tibet.

On Friday, July 3, the delegation will address a press conference arranged
by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.
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