Tibetans from around the world are gathering in the Indian hill station
of Dharamsala for their largest political conference in nearly 60
years. The Dalai Lama called the six-day meeting, which begins Monday,
after failing to make progress in negotiations with China on the fate
of Tibet. But the Tibetan spiritual leader will be notably absent. VOA
correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.
For six days, 600 Tibetan exiles will try to chart the course of their
peoples' future. Frustrated by decades of fruitless talks with the
Chinese, who invaded Tibet in 1950, members of the community's
government-in-exile and other prominent Tibetans will debate their
Officials in Beijing, which insist Tibet is an
integral part of China, say those at the meeting will not represent the
sentiment of the majority of Tibetans. The Chinese government accuses
the Dalai Lama of cloaking aspirations for independence inside his
moderate call for meaningful autonomy.
The speaker of the
Tibetan parliament-in-exile, Karma Chophel, tells VOA News his
compatriots will look at fresh approaches towards China, but armed
struggle is not an option.
"We are not talking about
violence," he said. "We are talking about a settlement of the Tibetan
issue. And for that, so far, His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] has been
trying to reach a settlement through what is called the 'middle way'
approach. But that has not produced any result. So now he has called
upon the Tibetan public to discuss what further ways can be found."
younger Tibetans want an outright push for independence. Some of the
disenchanted question the effectiveness of the long-standing pacifist
approach. Such voices have escalated following rioting in Tibet in
March. And the Dalai Lama, in recent months, has expressed a sense of
Speaker Chophel says the revered spiritual leader
will not try to sway his followers during the conference. "For the
purpose of not influencing public opinion, he is avoiding the meeting,"
The latest round of negotiations this month in Beijing
between the Chinese and Tibetan representatives failed yet again to
make any progress. China considers the meeting in Dharamsala, home of
the Tibetan government-in-exile for five decades, a meaningless
exercise that will get the Tibetans nowhere. It is also reminding
neighbor India to abide by its long-standing pledge not to allow on its
soil activities Beijing says are aimed at splitting Chinese territory.
a statement Friday the Dalai Lama said the special meeting has no
specific agenda or pre-determined outcome. But he is calling for
Tibetans to set aside their partisan differences to determine what he
called "the best possible future course to advance the Tibetan cause."