Tibetan Envoys Resign As Situation Worsens

Edward Wong of The New York Times reports that two senior representatives of the Dalai Lama who took part in nine rounds of negotiations with China have resigned:

[...]The envoys, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, said in a statement that they were resigning because of the “deteriorating situation inside Tibet,” which, since 2009, has prompted 38 Tibetans to set themselves on fire. The envoys expressed disappointment over China’s rejection of a plan for “genuine autonomy” for Tibet put forward by the Dalai Lama in 2008, and they said current circumstances made substantive dialogue difficult. The last round of talks took place in 2010. The Tibetan exile government said a task force on talks would meet again in December, after China announces its new leadership in the fall, with the aim of renewing negotiations.

The envoys also claimed in the statement that their Chinese government counterparts “did not respond positively” to their proposals for true autonomy, according to Reuters:

“One of the key Chinese interlocutors in the dialogue process even advocated abrogation of minority status as stipulated in the Chinese constitution thereby seeming to remove the basis of autonomy. At this particular time, it is difficult to have substantive dialogue.”

China has accused the Dalai Lama of not being serious about wanting to talk with Beijing and demanded he give up his support for violence and Tibetan independence.

China has said it will only talk about the Dalai Lama’s future and not negotiate directly with the government-in-exile.

The situation in Tibet and surrounding areas remains tense, most recently with a Tibetan woman torching herself in Sichuan’s Aba county and two monks self-immolating outside the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Last week, reports emerged that security forces in Lhasa had detained or expelled hundreds of residents and pilgrims in response to the protest.

Over the weekend, Wong caught up with Tibetans living in exile in Dharamsala, India, who spoke about the Chinese police presence and the self-immolations back home:

Kanyag Tsering, a Kirti monk in exile who keeps in touch with colleagues in Ngaba, said about 300 officials now lived inside the monastery to keep watch. Last summer, at the height of the patriotic re-education campaign, there were perhaps twice that many.

Another Kirti monk, Lobsang, said the paramilitary police had set up four camps around the monastery.

“The most uncomfortable thing was seeing soldiers pointing guns at you but not shooting at you,” said Lobsang, who recently arrived here and agreed to speak on the condition that only his first name be used. “This has been daily life since 2008. For myself, I’d rather get shot than to have them pointing the guns at me every day, 24 hours a day.”

He said there did not appear to be any coordination or organized plan for self-immolation.

“I think those who self-immolated didn’t have an official agreement, but there was spiritual solidarity between people,” he said. “The energy of the Tibetan people is totally linked like a bracelet of prayer beads. You cannot find the end and the beginning because it’s a circle.”

See also a previous CDT post on this story.