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Lodi G. Gyari - Oped: Turning Point for Tibet
International Herald Tribune
By Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari
Thursday, April 3, 2008
In the last few weeks, we have witnessed an uprising against
the Chinese authorities' repressive policies on the Tibetan
plateau the likes of which we have not seen in a generation.
Beijing has responded with a crackdown on a scale never seen
before in Tibet, all just months before the Olympics are to open
As the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in talks
with the Chinese leadership since 2002, I have been deeply
fearful that such events would come to pass. But none of us
imagined the scale of the protests, given China's tight control
On more than one occasion during our six rounds of discussion
with representatives of the Chinese government, I emphasized
that Beijing's policies were driving Tibetans into a corner.
We knew that the heavy-handed implementation of policies
undermining Tibetans' distinct identity, combined with the
influx of large numbers of Chinese migrants to the plateau, and
in particular the virulent official denunciations of the Dalai
Lama in recent times, meant that Tibetans were almost at
We are deeply concerned with the selective way in which the
Chinese authorities are representing the crisis. The rifts that
are developing between Tibetans and Chinese could last for
generations and they could cause irrevocable harm to the
harmonious relations between the two communities.
The protests that we have seen among my Tibetan compatriots
are not only a result of several years of hard-line policies by
Beijing. They have deeper roots, arising from 50 years of
Their geographical spread, across the entire plateau - from
the vast grasslands of Amdo and Kham, to the three major
monasteries in Lhasa - underlines the importance of addressing
the genuine grievances and aspirations of all Tibetans, both
within the present-day Tibet autonomous region as well as in
those Tibetan areas now under Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan
Tibetan exiles were once the dominant voice calling for
change, as repression forced many citizens in Tibet to remain
silent. Now the opposite is happening: Our brethren in Tibet are
inspiring the Tibetans in diaspora. I salute the courage of my
compatriots, who, through risking their lives and their freedom,
have exposed the bankruptcy of China's Tibet policy and the
strength of Tibetan identity.
Even in such a tragic situation, His Holiness has not
compromised his principled stand on nonviolence. He also
believes that both the Tibetan and the Chinese sides should not
give up hope, but rather take the crisis as a challenge to find
a mutually beneficial solution to restore peace and stability in
No one could pretend that if our next round of discussions
with the Chinese leadership were to be held now, it would be
business as usual given the scale of the crackdown and the fact
that protests are continuing almost daily in Tibet.
I am sure even our Chinese counterparts would also agree that
the present emergency situation in various parts of Tibet must
be resolved before we can really talk about the future. It is
imperative that those governments advising both sides to
continue with the dialogue process ask the Chinese leadership to
provide assurance of real and concrete progress in the dialogue
We are profoundly moved that several Chinese intellectuals
have bravely raised their voices in China in response to the way
Beijing is handling development in Tibet.
Far-sighted individuals within China recognize that Beijing's
Tibet policy is at a turning point, and that the Dalai Lama has
a critical and historic role to play.
President Hu Jintao now has an unprecedented opportunity to
transform what will otherwise be a dark legacy on Tibet to one
that is more appropriate for an emerging superpower that seeks
the respect of the international community.
Rather than listening to vested interests whose actions have
led to the downfall of quite a few leaders in the past, it will
be beneficial to all concerned if he were to heed saner voices
within China which are calling for a review of China's Tibet
policy. The world is watching.
Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari is the Dalai Lama's chief
representative in talks with Beijing.