Two of Dalai Lama’s envoys to China have resigned from their positions, saying it is difficult to engage in any substantive dialogue with China due to deteriorating situation in Tibet.
Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen have tendered their resignations to Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile.
Gyari and Gyaltsen announced their decisions after a meeting of the Tibetan Task Force in Dharamsala, India, which hosts the Tibetan government in exile since 1959. During their tenure as envoys since 2002, Gyaltsen and Gyari led nine rounds of talks with the Chinese representatives. However, their last meeting with the Chinese government took place more than two years ago.
“Given the deteriorating situation inside Tibet since 2008, leading to the increasing cases of self-immolations by Tibetans, we are compelled to submit our resignations,” Gyari and Gyaltsen said in a statement, adding that it was a difficult time to have a substantive dialogue with China. They said their Chinese counterparts "did not respond positively" to Tibetan proposals for genuine autonomy and even threatened to abrogate the minority status of the Tibetans in the Chinese constitution. The envoys said this could further undermine the Tibetans' claims to regional autonomy.
For his part, Prime Minister Sangay praised the "invaluable" contribution of the envoys to the Tibetan cause and said his cabinet would continue to look to them for advice.
"They have worked extremely hard in challenging circumstances and made earnest efforts to move the dialogue process forward and resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully," Sangay said in a statement. "The Kashag (cabinet) will continue to rely on them for their wise counsel."
Resentment in Tibet
Many Tibetans in China complain of political and religious persecution under Chinese rule. The number of self-immolations in Tibet has increased several times since last year. At least 35 Tibetans set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against China's six-decade rule over Tibet, though mostly in the Tibetan areas outside of what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Beijing insists that Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and have benefited from improving living standards triggered by China's economic expansion. It routinely accuses the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, of seeking to split Tibet off from the rest of China, a claim the Nobel Peace Prize laureate denies, saying he only seeks greater autonomy for the Himalayan region. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising. Unrest has continued sporadically ever since.
mg/gl (Reuters, AFP)