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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."

MEP attacks China over 'lost opportunity' on Tibet

April 2, 2009

The Parliament (EU)
April 1, 2009

A parliamentary hearing has been told that the
fight for Tibetan autonomy will "never end."

The hardline message was issued on Tuesday by
Kelsang Gyaltsen, an envoy of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader.

Addressing a public hearing organised by the
foreign affairs committee, he told MEPs that the
Dalai Lama represented the "spiritual and
cultural struggle" of Tibetans against continuing Chinese rule.

"However, we also have to plan for the day when
the Dalai Lama is no longer with us. That is why
we have instituted the basis for a sound
democracy in Tibet," he told the hearing.

"Some Tibetans fear that China will never engage
in meaningful dialogue over the issue of Tibetan autonomy.

"Even so, the message I want to convey today is
that the struggle for Tibetans to be able to
enjoy democratic freedoms and basic human rights will continue.

"On that there is unanimity," said the envoy,
whose main task is to facilitate talks between
the Tibetan government in exile and Beijing.

Italian ALDE deputy Marco Cappato criticised the
Chinese for not attending the hearing.

He said, "The Chinese authorities have lost an
important chance to have a dialogue with the Dalai Lama's representatives.

"Now we urge the EU to formally appeal to the
Chinese authorities to restart the negotiations
to recognize Tibet's real autonomy.

"Even Benita Ferrero Waldner admitted the
important role of the memorandum presented by the envoys of the Dalai Lama."

The Chinese authorities accuse the Dalai Lama of
seeking independence and instigating violence.
They say the military response to last year's uprising in Tibet was justified.

The MEP said, "This was the last opportunity in
this legislation for our assembly to discuss this
important matter and China's presence would have
shown them the importance parliament gives to finding a solution."

The hearing came in the wake of a call by EU
external affairs commissioner Benita
Ferrero-Waldner for new talks between Beijing and
the Dalai Lama's representatives.

Speaking earlier this week, she said there was no
sign of any change in Beijing's hardline attitude
toward contact with the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader.
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