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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."

Summit of Tibetan exiles rejects 'total independence' call

November 25, 2008

By Clifford Coonan in Dharamsala
The Independent (UK)
November 24, 2008

Tibetan exiles have shied away from pursuing total independence from
China and agreed to back the non-violent "Middle Way" policy of the Dalai Lama.

"[The] majority of views have come up supporting the Middle Way path
... which is right," the Dalai Lama, 73, said at the end of a
week-long meeting of almost 600 exiles in the Himalayan town of
Dharamsala.. "Total independence is not practical." The Buddhist
leader, revered as a god-king by Tibetans but reviled by Beijing as a
dangerous splittist, also sought to quash speculation that he might
step down following a spell in hospital earlier this year with
abdominal pain. "There is no point, or question of my retirement," he
said. "It is my moral responsibility till my death to work for the
Tibetan cause."

The Dalai Lama called the meeting after the failure of eight rounds
of talks with Beijing. At its conclusion he struck a sombre tone,
saying the Tibetan nation was close to a "death sentence". "My trust
in Chinese officials has become thinner and thinner. In the next 20
years, if we are not careful in our actions and planning, then there
is great danger to the Tibetan community," he said. Exiled Tibetans
backed the "Middle Way" because they fear losing international
support and further heightening tensions with Beijing. The decision
came as a disappointment for those groups, particularly younger
delegates, who had sought a shift towards an unequivocal demand for
full independence.

However, Lhadon Tethorg, a pro-independence delegate and New
York-based executive director of Students For A Free Tibet, said she
was happy that the issue of a more aggressive approach had been
discussed. "Independence is on the table now," she said. This was
recognised in the meeting's communiqué, in which the Tibetans said
their patience was limited.

The Tibetan issue has taken on a much greater political significance
in China since protests in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in March
erupted into violence that spread to other areas of western China
with Tibetan populations. Tibet's government-in-exile said more than
200 Tibetans were killed in a Chinese crackdown. Beijing said the
riots mostly killed ethnic Han Chinese and were the work of gangsters
sponsored by the Dalai Lama and his "clique".
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