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While reaffirming their absolute “faith and allegiance” in the Dalai Lama’s leadership and agreeing to pursue for Tibet’s autonomy, Tibetan exiles did not rule out a possible shift in policy to independence if current middle-way policy fails to yield any result in the near future.

Over 500 Tibetan leaders and representatives from around the world today ended a six-day “Special Meeting”, which was started on Monday, in Dharamsala, the base for the Tibet’s government in exile in northern India.

The speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Mr Karma Chophel, who chaired the meeting, described the final report of the meeting as a summary of the opinions and suggestions of the people to be submitted to the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama for his further considerations.

Tenzin Dasel/ Phayul)

“independence” or “autonomy”, the Tibetan people will maintain total commitment to non-violence in their struggle for freedom.

“China has rejected our proposal for a genuine autonomy in all its form. But there is still time for China to respond positively to our sincere efforts,” Chophel told Phayul. “If China is not at all willing to do that, it will only force us to review our current policy again. Then as expressed strongly by Tibetan delegates during the meeting, there is no reason not to consider shifting our policy to independence,” the speaker added.

Jamyang Norbu, a prominent Tibetan writer and a staunch advocate of Tibetan independence, described the meeting itself as an “encouraging” one that gives public an opportunity to express their opinion and accordingly help review the Tibetan government’s policies. He said the meeting had vitalized the need to review and revamp the current middle way policy.

Tenzin Dasel/ Phayul)

“To have a review of the current policy in future, we must observe Chinese side’s reaction and discuss seriously about it,” he said.

To make China come forward, Lobsang said “it depends on what strategies we adopt and the kind of international pressure that we can build on China.”

Speaker Chophel said the meeting also called on China to stop criticizing and making defamatory attacks on the revered Tibetan leader. He said such remarks not only hurt the sentiments of the Tibetan people, but also hurt the sentiments of Buddhists, including Chinese, around the world and also Tibet supporters and individuals who admire the Dalai Lama’s moral principles.

“The meeting has concluded that China must accept that this year’s unrest in Tibet is a result of its misrule and wrong policies adopted against the Tibetan people for the last many decades. China has said it has evidence to prove that Dalai Lama’s exile groups have instigated the riots in Tibet, but they have already failed to show any evidence to prove their accusations,” he added.

Chophel said Tibetan people “unanimously reaffirming their trust and allegiance to His Holiness the Dalai Lama” during the meeting was a fitting reply to Chinese leadership’s remarks that the Dalai Lama has no right to represent Tibetan people. “Tibetan people reaffirming that they will follow the Dalai Lama in whatever path he deems most appropriate is a clear message; and China must acknowledge this reality,” he added.

Chophel also said the Tibetan envoys, during the latest round of talks with Chinese representatives earlier this month, had also challenged the Chinese government to allow a free and independent poll on what Tibetans inside Tibet have had to say about the Dalai Lama’s role.

Jetsun Pema, former Kalon (Tibetan minister) and the younger sister of the Dalai Lama, said the meeting was an important platform to “prepare for the future” of the Tibetan movement.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always wanted to have a genuine democracy for Tibetan people and he has always promoted it,” Pema said.

Ahead of the ‘special meeting’, some 17,000 Tibetans inside Tibet had also been consulted about their opinions on the future course of action Tibet. Of them more than 8000 Tibetans said they will follow the Dalai Lama’s direction and almost 3000 backed the Dalai Lama’s middle-way approach.

The Dalai Lama is expected to address the meeting delegates on Sunday.

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China said Thursday a meeting of Tibetan exiles in India next week would “get nowhere”, saying the participants did not represent the views of most Tibetans. China also warned India from allowing such separatist activities on its soil. 

“The people planning or attending this meeting do not represent the majority of the Chinese people. Their separatist attempts will get nowhere,” AFP reported Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang telling reporters in Beijing. 

“The Chinese government is solemnly against any international activities aimed at splitting China,” Qin said in response to a question on Beijing’s attitude toward the gathering at a regularly scheduled new conference.

Many exiles are impatient with the Dalai Lama’s call for “meaningful autonomy” for his homeland and there are growing calls for outright independence from China. 

“The Indian government has made solemn commitments on several occasions that (it) does not allow any activities on its soil aimed at dividing (China),” Qin said, when asked about the meeting at the press briefing. “We hope that this commitment can be fulfilled,” Qin added. 

More than 500 leading Tibetan exiles will gather for a “special meeting” in Dharamsala, which serves as the base for the Tibetan Government-in-exile, next week to discuss the future of their freedom movement.

The meeting is the largest of its kind in 60 years and was called by the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama in response to lack of any signs of progress in the dialogue process and the worsening state of affairs within Tibet following widespread anti-China protests that broke out in the region earlier this year. 

The Dalai Lama last month said he was losing “faith and trust” in dealing with Beijing for a negotiated settlement over the future of Tibet. The Dalai Lama complained, even after pursuing his middle-way policy of seeking “real and meaningful” autonomy for Tibet for a long time, there hasn’t been any positive response from the Chinese side.

The gathering will be held Nov. 17 to 22. 

India, which shares close historical, cultural and religious ties with Tibet, has been home to more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees after the Dalai Lama and his supporters fled to India in 1959 following a failed anti-China uprising in the region. 

The latest round of talks between Beijing and representatives of the Dalai Lama ended inconclusively this month, with Beijing emphatically ruling out every Tibetan proposal for a greater autonomy within the constitutional framework of PRC.