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Dalai Lama: China's Policy on Ethnic Minorities has Failed

August 9, 2009

By Lisa Schlein
Voice of America
August 6, 2009

Geneva -- Tibet's Spiritual Leader, the Dalai
Lama, says that recent unrest in China's Xinjiang
province shows the country's policies toward
ethnic minorities have failed and he reaffirmed
his position to seek autonomy for Tibet within
the Peoples' Republic Of China and not to press for separation.

The Dalai Lama is attending a two-day conference
with over 100 Chinese and Tibetan scholars,
writers, journalists, advocates and social
workers. The meeting is exploring ways to achieve
a peaceful solution to the contentious Tibetan issue.

The Dalai Lama is using this event, bringing
together both Chinese and Tibetans , to highlight
his determination to achieve a better future for
his people and to criticize China's policy toward
ethnic minorities.  He says he seeks peace and
reconciliation with China's political leaders.

The Dalai Lama says the recent riots in Xinjiang
province show the time has come for China to
review the way it deals with all its ethnic
minorities. Nearly 200 people were killed in July
clashes between the ethnic Uighurs, who are
mostly Muslim, and the majority Han Chinese.

China has always maintained that Tibet is part of
its territory. The Dalai Lama says he is seeking
autonomy, not independence for Tibet, and he
acknowledges that decades of attempted
peacemaking with China so far have ended in
failure. But, he says he is not giving up. He
warns of the dangers posed by grievances harbored
by the Tibetan people against China for generations.

"Unless this crisis is dealt with realistically,
properly, this resentment will grow generation
and generation… So, therefore, there is crisis.
It is in everybody's interest to find a realistic solution," he said.

The Dalai Lama says Chinese society is changing
and this is creating an opening for Tibet and for
other minorities whose aspirations have been
denied for so long. He says China is getting a
middle class and the gap between rich and poor is
widening. He says this could spell trouble for
the government if it does not soften its position
toward its minority populations.

He says China's heavy-handed response to peaceful
demonstrations by Tibetans and other minority
ethnic groups has only served to heighten the
crisis and further alienate young people.

He acknowledges that some young people are
becoming impatient and might want to use violent
methods to achieve their aims. He councils
against this and says his position remains firm
that non-violence will in the end win out.

He appeals to the Chinese government to accept
his position that Tibet seeks autonomy and not
separation. And, says each entity would have
specific duties within this arrangement.

"Foreign affairs, defense should be handled by
the central government. Education, environment,
religious matter-these the Tibetans themselves
know better. So, therefore, they should have
final authority there," he suggested.

The Tibetan spiritual leader says his door is
wide open for negotiations with the Chinese
government. He says Tibetans are ready to
continue their dialogue with China. He notes
China, so far, has spurned this offer, but he is
hopeful that this will change in the near future.
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