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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

In India, Tibetans are deciding their future

November 23, 2008

Starting yesterday and until November 22, the leaders of the Tibetans
in exile are discussing their stance toward Beijing
Spero News (Houston, Texas)
November 20, 2008

Beginning yesterday and continuing until November 22 in Dharamsala
(India), Tibetan leaders in exile are meeting to discuss their future
stance toward Beijing, after the Dalai Lama himself said he was
"discouraged" by the lack of results in talks with representatives of
the Chinese government.

The "middle way" always supported by the Dalai Lama, asking Beijing
for greater autonomy (with direct elections of a regional government
and adequate protection for culture, traditions, and the natural
environment) is confronting the harder line calling for the country's
complete independence. The Tibetan government in exile has
nonetheless specified that any decisions will not be taken at the
meeting now underway, but "if a change in basic policy is considered
necessary, there is a way that is democratic and which has the
mandate of the Tibetan people."

Experts comment that the meeting serves above all to persuade China
to make concessions to the requests of the moderates, in order to
avoid bolstering extremist demands.

In an exclusive interview with AsiaNews, Penpa Tsering, executive
director of the Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre,
says that "the mood in the special meeting is enthusiastic, people
want to be involved in the  political process. 580 Tibetans in exile
are participating, of whom 15% to 20% were born in Tibet."

"There are mixed responses from these Tibetans who were born in Tibet
- some of them are seeking the realistic approach, and want China to
engage in meaningful dialogue over the Tibetan issue. However, there
are also some Tibetans who are taking the unrealistic approach of
demanding independence."

"But the one common and unrelenting demand is for religious freedom
in Tibet. These Tibetans cherish this yearning for Tibetan culture
and religious traditions to be preserved and handed down from
generation to generation. At this meeting, many have voiced the
importance of the Tibetan language, identity and culture - this is
their cherished desire."

"Of course, there are some emotional voices asking for independence
for Tibet. It is true that many Tibetans are frustrated and
discouraged because China is not responding in a positive manner to
our requests. The group Tibetan Youth Congress sees this meeting as
an excellent opportunity to change the history of Tibet, to leave
behind a moderate approach and ask for independence. But we have to
be rational in our deliberations. At times emotions may run high, but
this meeting is guided by rational political discussions."

"For me personally, I am of the opinion that we should give some more
time to the Chinese leadership to think about its response to the
Tibetan issue. Perhaps another 3 to 4 years should be accorded to
Beijing to deliberate upon a solution to the Tibetan issue, and for
meaningful dialogue to come to some fruition."

"At the moment, the international community and world leaders are
sympathetic to the Tibetan cause, and we have received much support
and solidarity from them on the Tibetan issue, but besides all the
moral support and vocal voices from the world leaders, they must
intensifty their pressures on the Chinese to settle the Tibetan issue."
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