Global support for Tibetan rights urged

Exiles' gathering in India deplores self-immolations and asks international community to resist Chinese pressure.

    Tibetan exiles from around the world have decided to boost efforts to gain global support for their struggle against China's rule over their homeland, and also urged their ethnic brethren in Tibet to stop giving up their lives in self-immolation protests.

    The prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile,  addressing a meeting in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala, called on the international community to resist growing pressure from China and stand up for human rights in his homeland.

    Lobsang Sangay, who last year took over political duties from the Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, said that a spate of self-immolation protests were proof of severe Chinese repression in Tibet.

    "Now I have more responsibilities, the Chinese government is raising pressure on the West," Sangay told 400 delegates from around the world who gathered for the meeting.

    "We have to re-establish our strong contacts with these countries."

    Dharmsala has been the headquarters of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, since he fled Tibet in 1950s.

    Fatal protests

    Sangay said Tibetan exiles were determined to highlight that authoritarian Chinese rule was triggering the scores of fatal protests.

    "We send a strong message to China that we will not tolerate these repressive policies," he said.

    "We seek and need support from the international community to push China to stop oppression in Tibet."

    Sangay also said the efforts to win international support would focus on getting more support in India because of its strategic location and its stake in the region's geopolitics.

    Penpa Tsering, speaker of the Tibetan exile parliament, said Tibetans should not give up their lives, and instead work toward solving the Tibetan issue with China.

    "We Tibetans have a small population and each life is precious," he said at the end of the meeting.

    The self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile says 41 Tibetans have died from 51 attempts at self-immolation have been made since March 2009.

    It considers them a sign of the suffering Tibetans feel under China's repressive policies.

    Chinese position

    China says the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, encourages the suicide attempts.

     It also claims Tibet has always been Chinese territory, but most Tibetans say the Himalayan region was independent for much of its history.

    Last month, Sangay said the self-immolations by Tibetans against the movement's commitment to nonviolence but that it was his duty to highlight why the protesters were dying.

    The delegates talked behind closed doors in smaller groups and presented suggestions to the broader gathering on Thursday.

    Thirty-one suggestions were adopted by the gathering on Friday. Other details were not immediately available.

    Also on Friday, the delegates offered ceremonial scarves and religious texts, carpets and food to the Dalai Lama, who attended the morning prayers at the Tsuglakhang temple.

    The spiritual leader did not participate in discussions over the past four days.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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