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30 November 2012 001Dharamshala: Tibet's political leader has described the ongoing crisis in Tibet as a 'litmus test' for the international community.

Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay once again called upon governments across the world to address the current situation in Tibet, highlighting the fact that 86 (now 89) Tibetans have self-immolated protesting Chinese rule in their country, since March 2011, during a lecture on the Central Tibetan Administration's Middle Way policy, at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), in Delhi, on Thursday, November 29.

Referring to a 2011 report in Time Magazine, which stated that the self-immolations in Tibet are one of the world's least reported issues, he compared the international community's reaction to the crisis in Tibet with that to the Arab Spring, citing "the continuing occupation of Tibet, political repression, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, cultural assimilation and denial of religious freedom," as the main reasons why Tibetan people are continuing to set themselves alight.

Dr Sangay also commented on the "irony of China's 'peaceful' rise as a superpower," in the light of ongoing diplomatic rumblings with Japan over some disputed resource-rich East China Sea islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Describing India, in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Government in Exile has been based since fleeing to the country following the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, as "a steadfast friend which has stood by the Tibetan people in their hour of need," he stated that it is in India's own interest to "seek a solution for the Tibet issue," as Tibet as a buffer state could help ease tension along the two Asian giants' Himalayan border. He also touched upon the environmental impact Chinese activities in Tibet may have on South Asian nations as many of the subcontinent's major rivers originate in the Tibetan plateau.

Summarising, he added: "the foundation of any movement is its people and the Tibetan cause will be determined by the Tibetan spirit, Tibetan sense of solidarity and Tibetan sense of determination which has never been as strong as now."

Professor Anand Kumar, from the JNU's School of Social Science, who chaired the event, added: "We are held guilty by our own past and our own tradition by keeping a very passive attitude about Tibetan question.

"We have to speak up".

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