Friday, August 19, 2005

Confusion Over HHDL's "Middle Path" Approach

By Vibhor Mohan (Tribune, India)

Dharamshala, August 17 -- To win over the support of those seeking complete independence of Tibet and not approving of the Dalai Lama’s “middle-path” approach, the Central Tibetan Administration of the government-in-exile has now launched a special programme for spreading awareness among theTibetan community in McLeodganj.

Organisations like the Tibet Youth Congress (TYC) have been vocal in expressing their reservations about the “middle-path” approach and continue to stick to their demand of complete independence.

“The ‘middle-path’ policy aims at achieving a genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. It is a non-partisan and moderate position that safeguards the vital interests of all parties concerned,” reads a booked released by the Department of Information and International Relations as part of the programme.

A seminar was also organised in McLeodganj today with Mr Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of theTibetan government-in-exile, elaborating on the “middle-path” approach. He said the approach was not formulated suddenly by the Dalai Lama and thrust upon the Tibetan community. A series of discussions were held on the issue with suggestions from different quarters.

Mr Jigme Tsultrum, media co-ordinator, said to gauge the support for the approach, an opinion poll was conducted in 1994 in which more than 64 per cent of the Tibetans expressed that they would support it, or whatever decision the Dalai Lama takes from time to time, in accordance with the changing political scenario in China.

On the other hand, Mr Kalsang Phuntsok Godrukpa, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, said the very fact that the Tibetan government-in-exile was forced to launch this awareness drive to remove confusion from the minds of people was indicative of the failure of the approach.

“Tibetans do not whole-heartedly support it and want complete independence. The approach has a future till the time the Dalai Lama spearheads it and people would continue to follow him irrespective of the results,” he said. Negotiations with the Chinese authorities are definitely important, even for seeking complete independence, but the other aspects of the approach do not conform to the aspirations of the general Tibetans.

“Every year, we visit the nearly 30 Tibetan settlements in 12 countries and people whole-heartedly support the demand for a complete independence,” he said. As part of the “middle-path” approach, the Central Tibetan Administration, without seeking independence for Tibet, strives for the creation of a political entity, which should enjoy a status of genuine national regional autonomy governed by the popularly elected legislature and executive through a democratic process.

As soon as the Chinese government agrees upon the above status, Tibet would not seek separation from, and remain within, the People’s Republic of China, said an official.