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30june20091Canberra: 29 June 2009-What a pity for Tibetans that they are not under Danish rule. Imagine: Denmark has granted Greenland self-rule after 300 years under Danish authority.

The new agreement means Greenlanders (most of whom are native Inuit) will be recognized as a distinct people with the right to self-determination and Greenlandic will become the official language.

The new self-rule status also gives Greenlanders more control of their natural resources. Greenlanders will take control of the police and the courts; Denmark will have the final say in defence and foreign-policy matters.

Contrast this with the plight of the Tibetans under Chinese occupation for the past 50 years.

Tibetans, who are not Han Chinese and are as distinct from Han Chinese as are native Inuit from Danes, have an entirely different language, script and religion to Chinese.

But China refuses to grant Tibet even basic autonomy.

The Dalai Lama, who is not demanding full independence but meaningful autonomy along the lines of that granted to Greenland, says that Tibetan culture is in danger of extinction because Tibetans are now outnumbered by Han Chinese.

What the Dalai Lama says is true.

Chinese businesses predominate in Lhasa, most public signage and official business is conducted in Chinese, monasteries have become no more than museums and tourist drawcards.

Clearly China is capable of change when it suits them, such as adopting capitalist business practices, but it refuses to move on from its soviet style subjugation of its occupied minorities.

It is time to follow the Danish example and grant Tibet meaningful autonomy.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com