Tibet meet may set tougher stance on China
By Alistair Scrutton, ReutersNEW DELHI -- Hundreds of leading Tibetan exiles will gather mid-November in northern India for a watershed meeting that could forge a tougher stance on China and pose a political challenge for their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
November 6, 2008, 10:11 am TWN
Many exiles are frustrated at the lack of progress with China, despite rounds of talks — the latest started on Tuesday — between the two sides. Anger has been heightened by March’s crackdown on riots against Chinese rule in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama himself called for the meeting and it will act as a sounding board for many exiles who want independence for Tibet rather than their revered leader’s talk of autonomy within China, which has occupied the remote mountain region since 1950. The 73-year-old Buddhist leader hinted this month that his “middle way” for Tibet had failed, and speculation has grown that he wants to step back from day-to-day political leadership.
“For years we have pursued a middle way and his Holiness himself has said it has not produced results,” said Karma Chophel, speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, which is based in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala.“Anything can be said at this meeting.” The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. He has since lived in India, a beacon for an estimated 150,000 Tibetan exiles around the world. But there have been reports that the Dalai Lama may be slowly retiring after he was hospitalised in August with abdominal discomfort. He underwent surgery last month to remove gallstones.
He is not attending the Nov 17-22 meeting, perhaps a sign that he wants to leave this debate to a newer generation.
“Things (are) not going well ... I have to accept failure,” the Dalai Lama said on a visit to Tokyo this week. “I’m looking forward to complete retirement.”
It was all a sign, some Tibetan activists say, that he is laying the ground for a possible, democratic, successor.
“He’s laying the foundation so the Tibetan movement will continue forward democratically,” said Dhondup Dorjee, vice-president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, a group that espouses independence.