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2november20095Dharamshala: In a statement issued last week, a vice minister from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) declared that it has sufficient evidence that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was responsible for last year's violent protests in Lhasa. In an exclusive interview with The Tibet Post International (TPI), Mr Thubten Samphel, Secretary of the Department of Information & International Relations (DIIR) and official spokesperson for the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, addressed these allegations and spoke about how the recent round of talks between the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the CCP were abruptly halted.

The Tibet Post International (TPI): What is CTA's official response to recent comments by Zhu Weiqun, vice minister of United Front Work Department of the CCP, that it has conclusive evidence that last year's Lhasa riots were premeditated and initiated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama?

Thubten Samphel: This is not a new statement. The Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao last year made the same allegations. So His Holiness and other Tibetan leaders offered an invitation to the Chinese government to visit Dharamsala and open all their files. As far as the proof is concerned, we've requested that they give the proof of His Holiness masterminding the protests to the international media, and to invite a delegation to see the proof and to make a judgment about whether His Holiness was responsible for last year's riots.

TPI: Have they come forward with any of the proof?

TS: No, they haven't. We have asked them to allow a neutral investigative team into Tibet to assess the Chinese allegations, but there was no response by the Chinese government.

TPI: Does the CTA have any speculation about what the proof may consist of?

TS: I think China is concerned about the Tibetan people's undying devotion to His Holiness, and this makes them very nervous. As a result, they have made these unfounded allegations.

TPI: Regarding the recent round of talks between His Holiness' envoy to China and the CCP, what is the CTA's response to CCP claims that the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People is an attempt at Tibetan independence?

TS: This is not a call for Tibetan independence. All the rights we have demanded are based on the rights enshrined in the Chinese constitution. Our position is that these rights must be practiced and implemented. If this is done, then we'll be happy to function as entities within the People's Republic of China.

TPI: Is the implication that the Chinese government is denying Tibetans the rights set forth in their own constitution?

TS: Yes, they are actively denying rights to minorities [including Tibetans], and at the same time issuing white papers saying how happy the minorities are.

TPI: What is the official CTA comment about the abrupt halting of the talks?

TS: It's pointless to spend time in talks when China refuses to touch on all the important issues. Our position is that if they are willing to reopen and reconsider the proposal we have given them, we would be happy to talk over how the issue of Tibet should be resolved, anytime, anywhere, without preconditions. It is for the Chinese government to reconsider the proposal which we have given them.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com