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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tough Times in Tibet

October 18, 2007

Wall Street Journal
October 15, 2007

The Dalai Lama will be welcomed to Washington this week, where he'll receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, America 's highest civilian award. It's an
occasion for celebration, but not complacency. Back in Tibet , not much is changing for the better.

The Party still imprisons anyone who speaks out against Chinese rule in Tibet ; brutally tortures detainees as a method of intimidating the local population; limits the
number of monks and nuns in each monastery and controls who is admitted -- and who should be expelled. In recent weeks in eastern Tibet , Chinese authorities
have stepped up a political campaign requiring Tibetan monks, nuns, laypeople and children to denounce their religious leader in exile.

China is also working to tighten its grip over Tibetan Buddhism, asserting in July that only the Communist Party can recognize monks as reincarnations. Tibetans
believe that when some learned or important monks pass away, such as the Dalai Lama, they are reincarnated and recognized through a series of esoteric Tibetan
rituals and traditions. So for an atheist Party to promulgate such a rule is akin to heresy, or worse.

These crackdowns come despite six rounds of talks between China and the Dalai Lama's representatives, in which the Tibetans expressed their wish for autonomy,
not independence. In response, the Party has launched one of the most intensive media slander campaigns in recent years, accusing the Buddhist leader of being a
"fake" monk and linking him with the Aum Shinrikyo cult and Falun Gong.

Despite all this -- and nearly half a century of oppression -- there is no organized armed resistance in Tibet . Tibetans are working to sustain their culture by
repudiating violence and promoting human values for which the Dalai Lama has made the Tibetan cause known and respected worldwide. While it is devastating for
Tibetans to denounce the Dalai Lama in the Party campaigns, the Buddhist leader counsels them to do so, rather than risk their livelihood and freedom.

And the Tibetans listen. In January last year, for instance, the Dalai Lama called on Tibetans to stop wearing the furs of endangered wild animals such as tigers and
leopards. Buddhism, he explained, teaches compassion for all sentient beings. Soon after his statement, Tibetans burned furs on large pyres and stopped wearing
them. The bottom dropped out of the trade for endangered animal skins in Tibet . Beijing is now pressuring Tibetans to wear furs -- to little avail.

The Dalai Lama has always advocated a peaceful, negotiated solution to the Tibetan cause. If anything, he has proved his willingness to negotiate time and again. In
the 1980s and early 1990s, he urged world leaders to embrace, not isolate, China , when that opinion was hardly a popular one in many circles. He also supported
Beijing 's bid for the 2008 Olympics, while calling on the Party and the world to ensure human rights improve before, and after, the games.

That may seem like a faint hope, but it's not impossible. President Bush has personally urged China 's leadership to invite the Dalai Lama for a visit to his homeland.
Such a move would certainly be welcomed by Tibetans. But it would also be welcomed by a world that's already embraced a peaceful solution for Tibet , through
the patient example of the Dalai Lama. Will China ?

Mr. Ackerley is the president of the International Campaign for Tibet .

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