Dharamshala, India: - Kelsang Gyaltsen, the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s envoy at the Tibet Inter-Group Conference on Genuine Autonomy in Brussels, Belgium, yesterday issued a statement entitled The Sino-Tibetan Dialogue: State of Play and Perspectives, in which he accused China of lacking the political will to resolve the Tibet issue through negotiation.
During the conference, which was hosted by the European Parliament, Mr Gyaltsen said Tibet has become a prison, overseen by a totalitarian regime.
Citing Sino-Tibetan dialogue since 2002, he said the Tibetan leadership-in-exile has sought genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people under a single self-governing organ, within the framework of the constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
However, he continued, China has consistently maintained an attitude of no recognition, no reciprocity, no commitment, no concession and no compromise.
Mr Gyaltsen emphasized the importance of an international presence in China, in order to have a restraining influence on the Chinese authorities and security forces, and to provide some form of protection to Tibetans inside Tibet.
He then outlined the Tibetan leadership’s instructions to the Tibetan delegation:
- To create the necessary conducive atmosphere and conditions for maintaining and deepening contact.
- To use every opportunity to dispel misunderstanding and misconceptions about the position and views of the exiled Tibetan leadership.
- To reiterate and explain the fact that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan leadership-in-exile do not seek separation and independence for Tibet.
- To state clearly our demand for genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the framework of the PRC.
- To propose confidence-building measures in areas of mutual interest.
- To stabilize the dialogue process by increasing the number of the meetings with an agreed-upon agenda and timeframe.
Mr Gyaltsen quoted China’s labeling of the eighth round of discussions in November 2008 as a demand for “disguised independence”, and its stand that the Dalai Lama does not have the right to speak in the name of Tibetan people.
He said these pronouncements were unfortunate, and that Tibetans do not have, as of yet, a sincere and willing partner for an honest dialogue.
He continued that none of the Tibet leadership-in-exiles' requests - including their pleas to lift the ban on possession of His Holiness Dalai Lama’s image and to allow exiled Tibetan to visit those living within Tibet - have been considered.
Speaking on the current situation in Tibet, and with reference to the eleven self-immolations there in the past few months, Mr Gyaltsen disclosed that the Tibetan leadership-in-exile have been urging their Chinese counterparts to meet and discuss ways to calm the state of despair.
However, he said, they are still waiting for a positive response from Beijing.
He continued, “The policies of the European Union towards the cause of Tibet and China have just as much a bearing on the outcome of this tragedy.
“The Chinese leadership must be made to realize that the issue of Tibet cannot be suppressed and silenced unless it is properly addressed and resolved.”
Referring to the modern world as “highly interdependent”, Mr Gyaltsen emphasized the importance that a “strong and unified message” should come from members of the international community.
In today’s heavily interdependent world, he said, it is not in the hands of Chinese leaders alone whether the Tibetan people will in the future be able to enjoy a life of freedom and dignity, or be compelled to live under continued brutal repression.
Since direct contact with the PRC was re-established in 2002, Special Envoy Gyari Lodi and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen have had nine official rounds of discussions and one informal meeting with Chinese representatives.
The last meeting was held in Beijing in 2010. Since then, and despite the Tibetan leadership-in-exile’s repeated requests to hold another meeting, there has been no positive response.