Tibetan exiles have concluded a six-day meeting with a reaffirmation of
the Dalai Lama's "middle way" approach towards China. But the Tibetans
have told their leadership not to send any further envoys to Beijing in
wake of the failure of previous talks on Tibetan autonomy. And as VOA
correspondent Steve Herman reports from Dharamsala, India, the Tibetans
have issued a warning to the Chinese that if they do not respond
positively to appeals for meaningful autonomy for Tibet then they will
decide to pursue independence.
Nearly 600 Tibetans, who came
from around their world to the their government's home in exile in
India are proclaiming with one voice they will not allow China to
swallow their identity.
As they concluded their six-day
meeting here, the Tibetans stood to sing their national anthem
performed by schoolgirls playing flutes and young men banging drums.
there were discordant notes. Officials say while a majority pledged to
follow their spiritual leader on whatever path he chooses, others
wanted to take a stronger stand.
The meeting's declaration
reaffirms support for the Dalai Lama's middle way approach for autonomy
within China - a strategy that even he has called a failure.
A significant minority wanted a shift to pursuit of independence.
had hoped we would revert to our original goal of independence because
when we first came into exile in 1959 our main goal was independence
and then go back," said Tsewan Ringzin, the president of the Tibetan
Leaders of the government in exile say if
China does not respond positively to their requests for meaningful
autonomy then a future special meeting could demand independence.
parliament speaker Doma Gyari says, in the meantime, the frustrated
delegates have made it clear there should be no further Tibetan-Sino
talks for now.
"We have decided that we will not send the envoys for
further contact," she said.
One of the meeting's subcommittee
chairs, Lobsang Sangay, a senior fellow of the Harvard Law School in
the United States, is holding out hope talks could resume.
"A door is
still open based on His Holiness' view of middle path," he said.
The decisions made Saturday are recommendations to the parliament in exile which meets again in four months.
Dalai Lama called for the unprecedented meeting but did not attend or
issue a recommendation, saying he did not want to influence the debate.
Some Tibetans contend the meeting was a waste of time because
it will not affect the decades-long struggle against Chinese rule.
owner Lhasang Tsering was one of the last of the CIA-financed exile
Tibetan fighters in the 1970s, who were based in Nepal.
people inside Tibet have voted for freedom with their lives," he said.
"In my humble view nobody can vote more clearly than to vote with their
lives. Here, it's a question of putting a piece of paper in a tin box."
China, in remarks before the special meeting here, also called
the conclave irrelevant. It accused the Dalai Lama and his followers of
using the conference as part of their ongoing plot to grab one-fourth
of China's territory. Beijing contends Tibet historically is a part of