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The special international Tibet support groups meeting began today at a highway Resort in Gurgaon near the Indian capital. The meeting briefed the members of the world wide Tibet supporters of the present situation inside Tibet. The Tibetan supporters were briefed about the outcome of the six day special meeting of Tibetan exiles.

Presiding over the opening function as the chief guest was Kalon tripa professor Samdhong Rinpoche. This three-day meeting is being convened by the Indian Core group for Tibetan Cause in view of the grave situation in Tibet and the current international situation.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in New Delhi, Mr Tenpa Tsering, read out a message of His Holiness to the meeting.

Emphasizing the importance of the Special Meeting in Dharamsala, Kalon tripa Samdong Rinpoche said “Majority of the participants to the meeting opted for the existing Middle Way approach, so we would continue on this approach. “
He thanked the Tibet supporters and requested all the Tibet support groups for their constant support.

Exile Tibetan parliament’s Speaker Karma Chophel said, “we collected views and opinions not only of exile Tibetans, but also from people in the Tibet.”

He also added that Tibetan struggle is one against the wrong policies of Chinese government and not against the Chinese people. We believe that just as Tibetan people, Chinese people are also suffering.

The first Tibet support group meeting was held in Dharamsala in 1990. The Tibet support groups met for the fifth time in Brussels in 2007.

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Dharamsala, November 28: Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama Thursday offered his condolences and prayers to victims of Mumbai terror attacks.

In his condolence letter sent to the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Nobel Peace laureate said he was “deeply saddened and shocked by the series of deadly attacks in different parts of Mumbai that has resulted in the loss of many precious lives and injury to many others”.


The Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India, Nov. 26, 2008.(Photo: AP)
“I would like to convey my deep condolences to you and through you to the members of the bereaved families as well as to all those affected by these dastard acts,” the Dalai Lama added.

Saying he had always admired the resilience of the people of India, the Dalai Lama added that he had no doubt that they would not be deterred by “such anti-human activities.”

“I would like to reiterate my solidarity with the Indian people, particularly the people of Mumbai, as you confront the menace of terrorism and violence,” the Dalai Lama wrote in the letter.

According to latest news reports, the death toll in the India’s financial capital has climbed to at least 143. Heavily armed militants attacked at least 10 sites across Mumbai, including two five-star hotels, a hospital and a Jewish center, since late Wednesday night reportedly injuring hundreds of people injured.

The week-long meeting of Tibetan exiles in Dharmsala, India, has inevitably drawn comparisons with the activities of Burma’s own exiled opposition community.

Tibet and Burma each have a government in exile. But some Burmese exiles and Burma scholars claim that while the Tibetan opposition in exile, led by the Dalai Lama, shows cohesion, the same cannot be said for Burma’s.

Criticism of the Burmese opposition in exile has grown recently, with complaints that it lacks unity and a united strategy, providing for dialogue between all groups.

One leading Burma expert, Mikael Gravers, associate professor at Aarhus University in Denmark, said there were naturally differences between opposition groups who have to act internally under constraint and those who can act more freely in the diaspora.

“They literally live in very different worlds,” he told The Irrawaddy in an email interview.

“In Burma, the repression is now as massive as ever seen,” said Gravers, author of National As Political Paranoia in Burma: An Essay on The Historical Practice of Power.“Thus, I think critics should consider if it is the failure of the opposition alone or the result of the repression which has silenced and split those who struggle for a change.”

In the late 1990s, there was a significant change in the Burmese exile movement with the formation of a Burmese government in exile, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). Aung San Suu Kyi’s cousin, Sein Win, has led the NCGUB from the start. Observers say the NCGUB has yet to find a leadership role for the democracy movement in exile.

Apart from the NCGUB, there are several umbrella organizations within Burma’s exile movement, such as the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB), the Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB), the Members of Parliamentary Union (MPU). They fall out from time to time—most recently when the NCGUB failed to cooperate with the NCUB in its action against the Burmese junta seat at the United Nations.

A NCUB secretary, Aung Moe Zaw, said the Burmese exile movement played a supporting role in the pro-democracy struggle, while the Tibetan opposition was centered in exile. “The nature of Burma’s democracy movement and Tibet’s one are not the same,” he said.

Although different Burmese exile groups were working under a collective leadership for democracy, the movement as a whole had failed to engage the participation of all Burmese exiles, Aung Moe Zaw said.

Despite the impression of unity given by the Tibetan exile movement, the Dalai Lama’s strategy for Tibet, calling for autonomy and not independence, came in for criticism at the Dharmsala meeting.

Critics questioned this so-called “middle way.” Tsewang Rigzin, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, told The Associated Press ahead of the meeting: “We need to have a strategy. It’s the middle way right now. But that has been a failure.

“We have history on our side; we have truth on our side. We know the Chinese—there’s no way we can live under China.”

The Dalai Lama claimed at the end of the meeting that he had majority support for his “middle way path to the Tibetan issue.”

The meeting left open, however, the options of demanding independence or self-determination if China fails to grant Tibet autonomy.

China has occupied Tibet since 1950 and brutally suppressed a Tibetan uprising in 1959. The Dalai Lama fled to India and formed the Tibetan exiled government in Dharmsala.

In March this year, five months before the Beijing Olympics, Tibetan protestors, led by Buddhist monks, challenged Chinese rule. The uprising was crushed by Chinese troops—with the kind of brutality employed by Burmese security forces to suppress Burma’s own uprising in September 2007.

XIAHE, China – Chinese paramilitary police with riot shields and batons abruptly took up posts Monday on the main street of this Tibetan town, disrupting the bustle of Buddhist pilgrims in a reminder of China’s determined control of the region.

With some Tibetans pushing harder against Chinese rule, the communist government is determined to pacify the area.

The show of force Monday was meant to deter unrest while a local court sentenced a group of Tibetans for taking part in large anti-government protests in March in Xiahe, a small town abutting a sprawling complex of golden-roofed temples.

Though the verdicts were not publicly announced, the trial also seemed timed to answer the complaints of the Dalai Lama and other exiled leaders meeting in India over the weekend that Tibetans’ patience with China’s domination was thinning.

Seven months after Tibetans across western China exploded in the largest uprising against Chinese rule in nearly 50 years, the authoritarian government is adjusting tactics. Police checkpoints and guard posts in place for months are suddenly dismantled, only to reappear without warning days later.

“We are in the grip of the Communist Party. Tibet is occupied. The Dalai Lama has fled to India. My heart is sad,” said a monk who has studied at Xiahe’s Labrang monastery for 15 years and declined to give his name for fear of government reprisals.

On a spare altar in his small room was a framed portrait of the Dalai Lama.

Monday’s police action in Xiahe came after several weeks in which riot squads had rarely been seen on the streets, residents said.

Helmeted police with truncheons and six-foot-long poles stood outside the courthouse and government buildings. At a checkpoint with sandbags chest high on a bridge, uniformed officers studied identification papers and stopped all but a few dozen vehicles from entering the one-street town.

On high-altitude grasslands 90 miles to the south, the 200-year-old Xicang monastery, site of a violent demonstration in March, was open again for visitors, but tense. Senior clerics finished leading Sunday midday teachings in the main hall and immediately shuffled to another meeting — a rollout of a new government-ordered study session.

About 90 monks sat on the cold stone courtyard. In front of them hung a red banner with white Tibetan and Chinese writing: “Work Meeting for the Second Phase of Xicang Monastery’s Rule of Law Propaganda Education Campaign.”

Such mandatory campaigns — which stress that religion must never veer into political action — have been used repeatedly to keep the clergy in line.

Beijing maintains the Dalai Lama is promoting secession, not reconciliation, and that the government is bringing economic development to an impoverished area, while preserving Tibet’s culture and religion.

But the communist leadership’s heavy hand over Tibet and disregard for the Dalai Lama is adding to the gloom of Tibetans in China and in exile.

Though they number only 5 million, Tibetans are spread across a quarter of China and remain loyal to the Dalai Lama, a popular international figure who gives their cause a global impact.

After the week long meeting called to discuss a so-far failed policy of rapprochement with China after 50 years in exile, the Dalai Lama and other exiled leaders said they would maintain their push for genuine autonomy with China.

But the Dalai Lama struck a pessimistic note, calling the next 20 years a period of “great danger” for Tibet — a seeming reference to Tibetans’ ability to persevere and, at 73, his ability to live on and remain a rallying point.

“Tibet’s traditions and culture are weakening rapidly. Can the exiles survive for another 20 years if their policies fail and if the Chinese government continues to resist a compromise?” asked Wang Lixiong, a Chinese writer and convert to Tibetan Buddhism who lives in Beijing.

“The current Chinese government is not going to solve the Tibet problem. Under one-party rule, power is crucial, and they are the power-holders.”

The region around Xiahe — pronounced SHAH-HUH — stands as a gateway between the more fertile plains where Han Chinese and Hui Chinese Muslims farm, and the mountains and upland plateaus that are home to Tibetans. Off and on for centuries it straddled a fuzzy line of control.

In the days since the Dalai Lama called the extraordinary meeting on Tibet’s future, Beijing has gone out of its way to display its commanding position in the tug-of-war. A senior Chinese official rejected a proposal this month to incorporate Xiahe and other Tibetan lands in one autonomous Tibet region governed by Lhasa but still part of China.

As the talks in India went on, China started a series of trials of Tibetans who took part in the March rebellion. In Luqu, a town of 7,000 where monks from Xicang tossed stones at local government offices, the court sentenced four people last week, a court officer said, refusing to disclose the verdicts.

The police action in Xiahe quieted the town as cars were cleared from the streets and people hurried past armed guards. Residents said they did not know what was happening.

A court officer confirmed those on trial participated in the March demonstrations, in which hundreds of monks marched through town, but declined to specify the number of defendants or their sentences.

Foreign visitors have been barred from the region for much of the past seven months, as authorities scoured monasteries and communities for uprising participants, detaining undisclosed numbers. A month ago the prohibition was lifted in Xiahe even as many other Tibetan areas remain closed.

Across the Xiahe region, Tibetans displayed robust devotion to the Dalai Lama and a strong resentment of the security China has imposed.

In Hezuo, a city set in the folds of a valley, Tibetans congregated around the towering 14-story fortress-like temple to a Tibetan saint. Many worshippers were under 50, having lived their entire lives under Communist Party rule.

At a prayer hall, two portraits of the Dalai Lama — always discouraged and sometimes outright banned by the government — were tacked to a shrine cluttered with reliquaries, paintings and photos of other revered teachers.

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.


Speaker of Tibetan parliament-in-exile Karma Choephel

Tibetan exiles worked Tuesday to hammer out a new strategy for their fight against Chinese rule in the region, after the Dalai Lama called for fresh guidance from his followers.
More than 500 prominent Tibetans have gathered at the government in exile’s base in northern India to debate whether to ditch the Dalai Lama’s push for “meaningful autonomy” in favour of a demand for full independence.

B. Tsering, a delegate and president of the Tibetan Women’s Association, said the week of discussions could re-define the movement.

“Everyone feels the big responsibility entrusted to us,” she said after the first sessions of debate. “And there is concern that we are trying to come up with a solid strategic plan in just a few days.
“We are working in groups of 40, hearing representatives express the opinions that they have collected.”

The Tibetan Women’s Association has long supported the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” autonomy policy, but Tsering said it was now time to ask if a new approach was necessary.
“All of us are aware that the Dalai Lama has left no stone unturned in his work and yet he has not had any breakthrough,” she said.

“If at the end of this week the majority feel we should stick to the ‘middle way’, we have to think how we can make it work better. Maybe we have to seek alternatives.”

The Dalai Lama, who is not expected to attend the talks, said earlier this month that the “middle way” had failed, and he was now asking fellow Tibetans how to proceed.

A growing number of young exiles favour a call for independence, but such a policy switch would likely see a sharp drop in international support for their cause — and could also split the community.
Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok, a delegate and member in the parliament in exile, said the meeting, which began Monday, was also focused on the current situation in Tibet.


Prime Minister of Tibetan government in exile, Samdhong Rinpoche (L)

In March, protests against Chinese rule in the capital, Lhasa, erupted into violence that spread to other areas of western China with Tibetan populations.

Tibet’s government in exile said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in the subsequent Chinese crackdown. China has reported police as killing just one “insurgent” and blames Tibetan “rioters” for the deaths of 21 people.

Phuntsok said the Dharamshala talks had already revealed some reluctance to abandon the Dalai Lama’s moderate stance.

“The debate over the ‘middle way’ or independence has started, but changing policy is not easy,” he said. “Perhaps we still have to give more energy to the present approach to see if it can work.”
Phuntsok described the meeting as “good brain-storming” that would result in a clear idea of Tibetan opinion.

The strategy session has no policy-making power — any recommendations would require the approval of the Tibetan parliament — but the prime minister in exile said the outcome would be influential.

“The atmosphere has been rather emotionally charged due to the repression in Tibet and the mixed feelings we have of fear and hope,” Samdhong Rinpoche told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are sincerely committed to democracy, and that means respecting the public opinion that is being sought in this meeting.”

The Dalai Lama was smuggled out of Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, since when thousands of his followers have also fled.

DHARAMSALA, India: Tibetan leaders opened a six-day meeting over the direction of their struggle with China on Monday, after the Dalai Lama, the region’s exiled spiritual leader, expressed frustration over years of fruitless talks with Beijing.

The meeting here in northern India, called by the Dalai Lama, comes after his comments last month bemoaning the lack of any progress by his envoys in talks with the Chinese government since 2002.

Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, called for an “open and frank discussion” and new ideas. Much of the debate is expected to boil down to two main choices: to continue pushing for Tibetan autonomy or beginning a movement for independence.

Rinpoche said in an opening speech to the hundreds of delegates that the meeting may not necessarily lead to a new approach with China and that any new path needs to have “the clear mandate of the people.”

The Dalai Lama was not expected to attend the meetings, said Lobsang Choedak, press officer of the government-in-exile.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama’s envoys to the last round of talks with Beijing said in a statement that they had presented China with a detailed plan on how Tibetans could meet their autonomy needs within the framework of the Chinese Constitution. Their plan says the Constitution “contains fundamental principles on autonomy and self-government” that would allow Beijing to “respond to the uniqueness of the Tibet situation.”

But China apparently rejected the plan and recent “Chinese statements distort the position and proposal” outlined in the paper, the statement said.

Chinese officials said no progress was made in the talks two weeks ago, calling the Tibetan stance “a trick.”

“The Dalai Lama or the Tibetan government-in-exile cannot be held responsible for the failure of the Chinese to respond to our sincere and genuine attempts,” said Lodi Gyari, an envoy of the Dalai Lama who has participated in all eight rounds of talks since 2002.

“The Chinese leadership keeps on saying that the doors to a dialogue are always open but they haven’t shown any willingness to take any step, however small, forward,” he said.

China has dismissed the meeting this week as meaningless, saying the participants do not represent the views of most Tibetans. Beijing says the Dalai Lama and his followers are seeking outright independence from Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama has declined to offer his views on the future of the movement because he said he did not want to tilt the debate in any particular direction.

Karma Chophel, speaker of Parliament in the government-in-exile, said more than 8,000 of 17,000 Tibetans recently surveyed in Tibet said they would follow the Dalai Lama. More than 5,000 said they wanted Tibetan independence, more than twice the number who wanted to continue with the current approach, he said. He did not offer any details about how the survey was conducted.

RANGZEN – YES WE CAN.
By Thondup Tsering

It has now been more than 21 years since His Holiness the Dalai Lama first proposed in Washington DC the Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet; 20 years since the Strasbourg Proposal to the Members of European Parliament; and almost 30 years since the “direct contact” between Dharamsala and Beijing was first established. Like most Tibetans, I have been waiting all these years and hoping that something good will come out of all this. So, the other day when His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his lack of confidence in the Chinese leadership because of the absence of any positive response from them, I said to myself, this is what I feared.

One of the fundamental requisites for any successful dialogue is a genuine desire on the part of both parties engaged to find a solution. I, for one, believe that China, from the very onset, never intended to find a resolution. Why would they? China is already in full control of Tibet -the land and its people. This was and continues to be a sinister ploy on the part of China tobuy more time hoping that the issue of Tibet will disintegrate and disappear once His Holiness passes away.

I have always believed in leadership through the power of truth – the truth about Tibet. The truth that Tibet was an independent nation until China invaded in 1949. I have time and again heard His Holiness state that truth was on Tibet’s side and that ultimately truth will prevail. So, around 1979 when His Holiness announced that He was giving up Tibet’s independence in favor of a “Middle-Way” approach, like many other fellow Tibetans, I was overwhelmed with confusion, not knowing what to make of it. As time passed, I realized that this was a compromise to save Tibet and Tibetan culture by a sincere and a well meaning leader who had the best of intentions for the welfare and wellbeing of both the Chinese and Tibetan people.

In 2000, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan, emphasized the importance of truth to a gathering of students and faculty members of Hampshire College. I asked him why he was preaching ‘truth’ when one truth is that the organization that he represents passed three resolutions on Tibet, and that even after 40 years, has failed to act on any one of them. His response to me was, “I wish I could say that this world is perfect……that truth always prevails.” This was a very instructive moment for me because what he was really telling me was that in this imperfect world of ours, where policies and decisions are dictated by self and national interests, TRUTH DOES NOT PREVAIL but truth needs to be lived, nurtured and secured. If Tibetans truly believe that Tibet was an independent country and wants to be independent, we have to dream RANGZEN and then live that dream. Or else, as the Chinese say “a thousand lies make it true” and then there is a real danger that Tibet will cease to exist one day.

Whenever one makes an argument for Rangzen, the inevitable counter argument is that Rangzen is not “realistic.” In His Holiness’s Strasbourg Proposal, referring to his idea of Tibet becoming a self-governing political entity in association with the People’s Republic of China, He states, “I believe these thoughts represent the most realistic means by which to re-establish Tibet’s separate identity…..” I believe that the introduction of the word “realistic” in any discussion about a nations’ future, and especially in our ongoing struggle for self determination, is very disenfranchising and disempowering. What is unspoken but clearly communicated is that we should give up the idea of Rangzen because Rangzen is not realistic. The only way to make any crucial and complicated mission “realistic” is to believe and live the dream. Only then will the dream have a chance of becoming a reality.

Imagine if some 47 years ago, President John F. Kennedy believed that it was not “realistic” to dream of going to the moon. The first space walk on the moon never would have happened. Imagine if 61 years ago, the Indian leadership and its people believed that seeking independence from the British Empire was unrealistic because ‘the sun never sets on the British empire.’ India perhaps would not be an independent country today.

Thinking about Rangzen, my memory goes back to my early years as a child at TCV and later as a staff member, when we were all unified in our mission and belief in Rangzen. The students, parents, cooks, teachers, nurses, and office staff – we all knew that whatever each one of us was doing at that time, it was in preparation for that beautiful dream of Rangzen. We were unified and strong in our belief in RANGZEN. We did not know then how and when Tibet would regain its Rangzen. Yet, I know for sure that it gave us all a tremendous sense of pride and purpose. It was this sense of unified belief and purpose that propelled us to be recognized as one of the most successful refugee communities in the world. Today, when I visit the settlements and schools in our community, the loss of that sense of unity and direction is apparent.

November 4, 2008 was one of the most beautiful days in my life. Even though I could not vote, I celebrated the victory of President Elect Obama. His victory was historic and showed once again that it is important to dream big (without letting reality limit your dreams) and to live that dream. Nothing is impossible. Remember, this was a country where about 44 years ago people of African heritage did not even have the right to vote. Back then it was considered unrealistic and inconceivable that one day a black man would become the President. Today Barak Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America. That dream has become a reality. One of the main reasons that this dream became a reality today is because the people of African heritage believed that all human beings are created equal and they lived that dream. Of course all this did not come soon or easy, but there is a lesson that Tibetans can learn from this. Today’s dream can become a reality tomorrow. If we dream Rangzen and live that dream, no matter how hard or how long the road ahead may be, one day, one day Rangzen will become reality! RANGZEN – Yes We Can!

A special meeting will be held later this month to confirm our mission and renew our dreams. As His Holiness said, “When all is said and done it is for the Tibetan people themselves to decide about their collective future.” I thank His Holiness for this opportunity. I call upon all Tibetans to speak out and participate in this historic meeting. Let not your hopes and dreams be limited by reality, but guided by truth. I recognize that it is possible that I may not see Rangzen in my life time or, for that matter, in my children’s lifetime. But I would be proud to have left the Rangzen legacy for future generations of Tibet and will take comfort that one day, Rangzen will become reality. This past spring, Tibetans from inside Tibet have spoken. Now is our time to say loud and clear in a unified and strong voice –RANGZEN! YES WE CAN!

The author is a residence director at the University of Massachusetts and can be reached at thondup@educ.umass.edu

From Phayul.com

Zhu Weiqun, Vice-Minister of the United Front Work Department, received a noisy reception during his visit to London, Students for a Free Tibet said. Tibetans and supporters chanted slogans against Zhu and Chinese government at Chatham house at St. James square where Zhu took part in a ’round-table’ discussion on the recent failure of the eighth round of talks.

A Chinese FedEx employee briefly disrupted the protest as he stormed towards the Tibetan protesters in an attempt to provoke the Tibetans into confrontation. He snatched a Tibetan national flag from a Tibetan protester and snapped the flagpole. The Chinese man was warned by the police for his provocative behavior.

Padma Dolma, a Tibetan student, threw herself in front of the Chinese diplomat’s entourage carrying a Tibetan national flag. Four other Tibetans splashed tomato sauce onto the windows of the car in which Zhu was traveling.

A protester splashes tomato sauce on a van carrying Chinese officials in a symbolic representation of bloody killings in Tibet.

The protesters banged the glasses and yelled, “Zhu Weiqun, liar, liar.” Pema Yoko, who took part in the skirmish, said the Tibetans will not stand down to the Chinese government. “We showed the London public that the Chinese government is responsible for the bloodshed and death of hundreds of Tibetans in a brutal crackdown after the protest in Tibet in March this year.”
Zhu Weiqun in the firs ever press conference by China after talks with Tibetan envoys accused the Dalai Lama as being responsible to for the failure to make any progress.

Zhu Weiqun was among the Chinese representatives who met with the Tibetan delegation during the two-day talks in Beijing last week. The Executive vice minister of China’s Central United Front, the Chinese government department in charge of talks with representatives of Dalai Lama, said Monday that no progress was made at recent talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama and accused the exiled leader of trying to split Tibet from China.

“The sovereignty is the most fundamental issue. The Dalai has — by denying Chinese sovereignty over Tibet — been trying to seek a legal basis for his claims of independence or semi-independence over Tibet,” Zhu said at the press conference on Nov 10.

Tibet supporters also condemned the Chinese government’s latest wave of hard-line rhetoric. “To spuriously blame the Tibetan side for the collapse of talks was patently false, but to accuse the Dalai Lama of plotting ‘apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Tibet is both ludicrous and deeply offensive to all Tibetans,” said Terry Bettger, Campaigns Coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet UK. “Rhetoric like this only serves to embarrass Chinese diplomacy on the world stage, and exposes the absolute lack of sincerity the Chinese government have shown to talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys.”

An Open letter written by Alice Walker, to Barack Obama:

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people’s enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people’s spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to “work with the enemy” internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

© 2008, Alice Walker