Exiled Tibetans call on China's new leadership to ensure homeland resolution, Dalai Lama has no comment

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 15, 2012 12:00 hrs

Exiled Tibetans based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, said on Thursday, urged the new Chinese leadership to find a resolution to the issue of their homeland.

They called on new party chief Xi Jinping to actively seek an end to what they claim are China's repressive policies inside Tibet.

Earlier on Thursday, China's ruling Communist Party unveiled an older and conservative new leadership line-up that appears unlikely to take the drastic action needed to tackle pressing issues like social unrest, environmental degradation and corruption.

New party chief Xi Jinping, premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang and vice-premier in charge of economic affairs Wang Qishan, all expectedly named to the elite decision-making Politburo Standing Committee, are considered cautious reformers. The other four members have the reputation of being conservative.

In Dharamsala, an exiled Tibetan activist, Tenzin Dolkar, said the resistance inside Tibet is at a boiling point and needed to be urgently addressed by the new leaders of China.

"We see the new leadership in China as the fifth generation that is going to have to address the crisis inside Tibet. Otherwise, it is going be their downfall. It might be the last generation of the Chinese leadership that might rule over Tibet. The Tibetans inside and the resistance has not stopped, if anything, it has gone even more vibrant and has become even more dynamic and they have to given up," she said.

Except for Xi and his deputy Li Keqiang, all other members of the standing committee - the innermost circle of power in China's authoritarian government - are 64 or over and will have to retire within five years.

The new leadership will have to quickly get down to the business of addressing several pressing issues --- and the Tibetan unrest might not be the top of the agenda --- but Tibetan exiles warned that if the situation is left to simmer then it could become a major headache for the new leaders.

"On the day ahead of the national Congress we faced five self-immolations. So, it is directly the Tibetan people are challenging the Congress and trying to highlight the critical Tibetan issue during this meeting. Tibetans are now challenging the failed China's policy and also calling for His Holiness Dalai Lama. So, Xi Jingping has to now decide whether to face more resistance or to deal with the issue right now," he said.

Earlier this week, Dalai Lama had pressed China to investigate the dozens of self-immolations by Tibetans.

Earlier this month, the United Nations' most senior human rights official called on China to address frustrations that have led to Tibetans' desperate protests, including some 60 self-immolations since March 2011.

Tensions over Tibet are at their highest in years after a spate of protests over Chinese rule and self-immolations by Tibetan activists, which have prompted a Chinese security crackdown.

The surge in self-immolations in China in protest over its rule in Tibet has heightened tension in recent months. Indian-based rights groups said there had been a massive security clampdown in Tibet and Tibetan areas of China, and in some instances protesters were beaten even as they were ablaze.

Executive Director, Tibet Action Institute, L. Thethong, said they do not expect any drastic steps from the new Chinese leadership.

However, she added that it was up to the Tibetans to strengthen their protests and pressurise China to free Tibet.

"I think the Chinese government at this point thinks that they can continue to string us along and to may be occasionally paying lip service to the Tibetan issue, when they feel the pressure. But ultimately, it is up to our side, the Tibetan side and our supporters to demand that the international government get together and look for a solution for the Tibetan issue that it's about creating new ways to share information and new ways for world governments to put pressure on China in a meaningful way," she said.

Xi, who was also appointed head of the party's top military body, said in an address following the party's once-in-five years congress that he understood the people's desire for a better life but warned of severe challenges going forward.

Xi will take over President Hu's state position in March at the annual meeting of parliament, when Li Keqiang will succeed Premier Wen Jiabao.

With growing public anger and unrest over everything from corruption to environmental degradation, there may also be cautious efforts to answer calls for more political reform, though nobody seriously expects a move towards full democracy.

The party could introduce experimental measures to broaden inner-party democracy - in other words, encouraging greater debate within the party - but stability remains a top concern and one-party rule will be safeguarded.

Meanwhile, Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama preferred caution and refused to comment on the change in the leadership.

When asked about his comments on the change of leadership in China, the Nobel peace laureate said: "Nothing. Nothing. Nothing."

China rejects criticism that it is eroding Tibetan culture and faith, saying its rule has ended serfdom and brought development to a backward region. China has ruled Tibet since 1950, when Communist troops marched in and announced its "peaceful liberation"

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising, has accused China of "cultural genocide". Beijing considers him a separatist and does not trust his insistence that he only wants greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

Beijing has branded the Dalai Lama a separatist and accused him of inciting protests against Chinese rule in Tibet, including more than 60 self-immolations in and around the region since March 2011. Beijing denounces the self-immolations as acts by terrorists and criminals.

The Dalai Lama denies he is a separatist and says he only wants meaningful autonomy for his Himalayan region. He made no direct comment on the self-immolations or last week's United Nations report that urged China to address deep-rooted frustrations that have led to such desperate forms of protest by Tibetans. (ANI)

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