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Tibetan Envoy Warns of Possible Split, Violence if Beijing Talks Fail

By Margaret Besheer

United Nations

08 October 2008

The Dalai Lama's Special Envoy for the dialogue with Beijing has warned that there is a growing sentiment against engagement in parts of the Tibetan community and he fears failed talks with China could lead to future violence. From New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

A proposed eighth round of talks on the situation in Tibet is expected to happen soon, perhaps even later this month. But the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy to those talks, Lodi Gyari, says the lack of progress from this dialogue - which started in 2002 - is turning some Tibetans away from engagement.

Gyari told an audience at the Asia Society in New York Tuesday evening that if the issue of Tibet's future is not resolved before the Dalai Lama's death, then he fears some Tibetans might opt for violence in his absence.

"If the issue is not resolved, then I'm afraid a section of the Tibetans will resort into violence. Would we win? Most probably not. And in the end we will suffer more. But it is a reality. And in fact, you know, the major contributing factor to that kind of situation is the Chinese policy."

As a result, he says several segments of the Tibetan community feel the Dalai Lama's engagement approach toward Beijing has not worked and they are turning away from it.

Part of the Dalai Lama's approach has been his willingness to say he would consider accepting a Communist party role and socialism in Tibetan areas. An idea that Gyari says is not necessarily popular among Tibetans because they have suffered under communism.

"But when his Holiness makes such a pronouncement there is not strong opposition to that. This clearly shows how strong, how deep the reverence [is for the Dalai Lama] - this is precisely what I was trying to say earlier, if the Chinese want to find a solution, this is the time, because they have a person they can deal with," he said.

The Dalai Lama has also repeatedly said he is seeking only Tibetan autonomy, not independence, an assurance the Chinese want him to prove.

Beijing Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday that Beijing's policy toward the Dalai Lama has been clear and consistent. He says what's imperative is that the Dalai Lama take concrete actions to respond to the central government's requests and create conditions for contact and talks.

Neither side would say exactly when the eighth round of dialogue would take place.

Asked what he would consider progress at that meeting, Gyari said the Chinese have agreed to receive from the Tibetan side a set of ideas on how they see autonomy and what kind of autonomy rights they are talking about. He said he expects Beijing will have a serious discussion on these issues with his side when they present their list. Gyari says it is with that kind of optimism the Tibetan side is going to proceed to the next round of talks.

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