China: Action plan sought for Tibet
|Publisher||Radio Free Asia|
|Publication Date||25 September 2012|
|Cite as||Radio Free Asia, China: Action plan sought for Tibet, 25 September 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5069a8eb28.html [accessed 20 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Exile Tibetans are asked to craft a blueprint in response to self-immolations.
The second Tibetan Special General Meeting opens in Dharamsala, India on Sept. 25, 2012. RFA
A concrete action plan is needed to ease the "tragic situation" in Tibet, the leader of the Tibetan government in exile told hundreds of Tibetans gathered in India to devise strategies to confront the rising tide of self-immolations and other protests against Chinese rule.
The four-day meeting which began Tuesday in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, where Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama lives in exile, is the largest assembly in four years to discuss the situation in Tibet, where rights groups point to what they call increasing abuses committed by Chinese authorities.
Lobsang Sangay, the head of the Dharamsala-based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), as the government in exile is called, said that the meeting should be an opportunity to address how to lobby international support in India, the rest of Asia, and further abroad aimed at resolving the "crisis" in Tibet.
He hoped that the meeting called by the Dalai Lama will come up with a new and concrete action plan for Tibet, according to the CTA website.
"The main agenda of the meeting is to discuss how we can react to the urgent crisis inside Tibet – what can be done in India and other Asian countries and what we can do internationally," he told the more than 400 delegates from 26 countries attending the assembly.
The meeting held at the Tibetan Children's Village school was the biggest gathering of exile Tibetans since the last Special General Meeting in 2008, which followed bloody protests in Lhasa that resulted in a brutal crackdown by the Chinese government.
Fifty-one flags were hung from the balcony of the school hall, one representing each of the Tibetans who have set fire to themselves over the last two years to protest Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Penpa Tsering, speaker of the exile parliament, said in his opening remarks that the gathering hoped to "to seek ways and means to address the urgent situation inside Tibet."
Chinese policies, including blocking media from covering the self-immolations and preventing observers from investigating them, had pushed the situation there to a crisis point, he said.
"Instead of looking into the situation that led to the Tibetan self immolations ... they tried to mislead the Chinese public as well the world community by not letting the public know the realities of the Tibetan situation."
"They attempted to turn Tibet into a large prison and drove the situation inside Tibet into crisis," he said.
Lobsang Sangay, prime minister of the exile Tibetan government, addresses the opening of the second Tibetan Special General Meeting in Dharamsala, Sept. 25, 2012. Credit: RFA.
Delegates to the meeting – including members of local Tibetan organizations in India, U.S., Europe, and other regions – will form ten committees and submit recommendations on how to respond to the self-immolations.
Wednesday's meeting of the assembly is split into one session on recommendations for what can be done in India and Asia, and into a second session on actions in other countries.
Their suggestions will form the basis for a final report and resolution to be passed on Friday.
Mura Tenpa, a member of the exile parliament representing the Amdo region, said that some Tibetans were frustrated that the exile government had not done enough to stem the tide of self-immolations, which have continued steadily since February 2009.
"The Kashag [cabinet] and parliament and others have organized several actions in response to the situation inside Tibet. But there are many who express dissatisfaction and say the actions lack impact."
The government in exile however "is providing a platform for the larger Tibetan community to express their solutions and suggestions," he told RFA's Tibetan service on the sidelines of the meeting.
"Since the people are the voice and authority, the Kashag and the exile parliament want to hear their voices and then implement their suggestions and guidelines."
The meeting is the first since the Dalai Lama turned over his political responsibilities to Lobsang Sangay.
The Dalai Lama will not participate in the discussions but will attend a prayer for his long life to be offered on Friday.
He has blamed China's "totalitarian policies" for the self-immolations, which have left many Tibetans shocked because they contradict Buddhist teachings that all life is sacred.
Sangay said the Kashag respected the self-immolators' sacrifices but called for end to the practice.
"As human beings, the Kashag recognizes the acts of self immolations are tragic incidents, and has thus appealed the Tibetans inside Tibet not to resort to self-immolations and stop the practice. As Buddhists, we conduct prayers and make offerings for those who lost their lives in the act of self-immolation. Then as Tibetans, we recognize those acts of self-immolation and their sacrifices for the cause of Tibet and the Tibetans."
"The Kashag expresses solidarity for their call for the return of Dalai Lama to Tibet and demand for freedom for the Tibetans," he said.
He urged Tibetans to conduct campaigns to raise international support for the cause.
"2013 should be Tibet's lobbying year," he said.
He said that Tibetan representatives have lobbied governments around the world to pass statements and resolutions of support in Australia, Canada, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, South Africa, Poland, Switzerland, the U.S., and other countries.
But Sangay said Tibetans could also do more to campaign for support among Buddhists in China.
"We should try to reach out to the Buddhist community. In China alone, there are about 300 million Chinese Buddhists, and we should try to reach out to them," he said.
"In India and Asia, we should establish the importance of Tibet for India and Asia from the perspective of security and environment."
Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.