Dalai Lama urges Tibetan exiles to be prudent
By SAM DOLNICK,Associated Press Writer AP - Monday, November 24
DHARMSALA, India - The Dalai Lama warned Sunday that the decadeslong dream of a free Tibet would be in danger if exiled leaders weren't careful, one day after they said they might push for independence if China refuses to grant autonomy soon to the Himalayan region.
The Buddhist spiritual leader also called for dialogue with the Chinese people, saying he has little faith anymore in the Beijing government.
Frustrated with stalled talks with China, the Dalai Lama called the weeklong gathering of Tibetan exiles from around the world discuss the future of their movement. The meeting ended Saturday with delegates saying they had decided against seeking independence for now, and that they would maintain the Dalai Lama's "middle way" _ his push for autonomy through measured compromise that falls short of calling for independence.
But they also said they would seek independence if China fails to respond positively.
"The next 20 years, if we are not careful, if we are not prudent in our plans there is a great danger," the Dalai Lama said in an address to the leaders in Dharmsala, the north Indian mountain town where has lived since fleeing Tibet following a failed rebellion in 1959. "It could lead to the danger of failure."
While the Buddhist spiritual leader did not specify what he meant, he appeared to be speaking about the larger Tibetan cause, which many exile leaders believe is at a major crossroads.
In March, violent protests rule erupted in Tibet _ the biggest challenge to Chinese rule in nearly two decades. They were met with a swift, aggressive crackdown by Beijing. That response served as a reminder that while some exile leaders may dream of a more confrontational approach, Tibetans living under Chinese rule would bear the brunt of any government response.
Since Communist troops swept into Tibet in 1950, Chinese authorities have crushed any sign of Tibetan nationalist sentiment. An independence movement would be nearly impossible, at least in the foreseeable future, and China has long made clear it will not accept autonomy for Tibet, which it maintains has been Chinese territory for 700 years. Many Tibetans, however, argue it was effectively independent most of that time.
China has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of scretly seeking independence in his quest for autonomy and stepped up its denunciations of the spiritual leader in the wake of the March unrest.
Recent talks between his representatives and Beijing have ended without progress, and the exile leaders said Saturday that the Tibetans should stop sending representatives to talks with Beijing because Chinese leaders were not taking the discussions seriously.
"My trust in Chinese officials is becoming thinner and thinner, but my trust in the Chinese public is still alive and strong," the Dalai Lama said Sunday.
He gave few details of what kind of dialogue he envisioned with the Chinese public, but any kind of direct access to most Chinese people would be a near impossibility.
The Dalai Lama, 73, also reiterated that he would remain the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.
"Till my death I committed. No idea of retirement," he said.
He has been saying since the early 1990s that he would only consider stepping away from his role as spiritual leader when Tibet has more freedom. But he maintained that he is semiretired as a political leader.
"All major decisions are in his hand," he said, referring to Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile. "I am like senior adviser."
The Dalai Lama spoke to the delegates Sunday after staying clear of the week's meeting, saying he did not want to sway the debate.
He kept to that Sunday when he largely declined to discuss the exile leaders' resolutions, saying only that the meeting should not be viewed as final and that at least one more was likely in the coming weeks.
The meeting of the 581 exile leaders was the first of its kind in decades, but their decisions are only recommendations for the Tibetan parliament, which is to meet in March.
Recommend this article
Average (0 votes)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Related Articles: Asia Pacific
Protesters gather as tense Thailand prepares for 'last battle'AFP - 29 minutes ago
Next NKorea talks meeting in China December 8: RiceAFP - 44 minutes ago
Asia-Pacific leaders sound upbeat note on crisisAFP - 1 hour 43 minutes ago
China, Russia pledge deeper cooperationAFP - 2 hours 13 minutes ago
Pakistan raid a sign of sharper US intelligenceAP - Monday, November 24
Most Popular – Asia Pacific
Merkel warns 2009 will be 'year of bad news' for economy
Over 200 narwhal trapped in Canadian ice
Slump in Europe spreads wider
New strain of deadly Ebola virus discovered
Japan scientists eye made-to-order bones
View Complete List »