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Tibetan exiles back Dalai Lama's policy of dialogue with China

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-23

The Tibetan government-in-exile has announced it will continue with the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach, which aims to achieve greater autonomy within China through dialogue.

Click here for the special report on Tibetans living in exile


Tibetan exiles have decided to continue with the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach to China, the Tibetan government-in-exile said on Saturday.

 

The decision came after hundreds of Tibetans met this week in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, the seat of Tibet's government-in-exile, to chart a course for their movement after eight rounds of official talks with Beijing failed to make any progress.

 

The "Middle Way" approach abandoned the dream of an independent Tibet in favour of seeking greater autonomy within China through dialogue.

 

"We will continue with the Middle Way approach, and if there is no progress within a short period we will consider other options, including independence," Karma Choephel, speaker of the Tibet's parliament-in-exile, told a gathering of Tibetan exiles.

 

The exiled government's cabinet consulted thousands of Tibetans inside Tibet before a global conclave of exiles met this week to take a stand.

 

Analysts and many Tibetans think the 73-year-old Dalai Lama called the meeting partly to unite the Tibetan exile movement around a common approach and prepare the way for his gradual retirement, especially if his health starts to fail.

 

Others said the meeting would help to empower a political leadership to carry on the struggle.

 

There is an acknowledgement that the Middle Way has also failed and, unhappy at lack of progress, many younger Tibetans said they want to replace the Dalai Lama's non-confrontational method with a demand for outright independence.

 

Beijing again firmly rejected that idea in talks this month with the Dalai Lama's envoys over the future of Tibet, which saw deadly riots and protests in March, which drew global attention.

 

"Our clear goal is the Middle Way approach. We always want to adopt non-violence, Samdhong Rimpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said.

 

"A small section of people do not agree but their views have also been heard."

 

Through the week, hundreds of Tibetans split into 15 groups of 40 each to brainstorm ideas before presenting their conclusions to the government-in-exile.

 

Some groups at the meeting wanted to give China two years to resolve the Tibetan issue or face more radical protests.

 

But an overwhelming majority said they wanted to stick to the non-violent path, admitting they could do little more than hope for a softening in Beijing's stance.

Date created : 2008-11-22