Conflict & Justice

Exiled Tibetans to decide future

This week's meeting opened with pomp and ceremony. The Dali Lama is in town for the meeting but he's not attending. He wants the exiled community to plan its direction without him, but it was the Dali Lama who called this meeting after he said he'd given up hope of talks with China. He has tried, having sent representatives to China many times, but China has held fast with its belief that Tibet is part of China and that Tibetans should be grateful for developing the Tibetan economy. A spokesman for the Dali Lama blames the impasse on China. Many Tibetans within China agree. This man says Han Chinese who have flooded into Tibet and now dominate the economy and run the schools, meaning Tibetans have to speak Mandarin Chinese to get ahead and even then they're not hired. The Chinese government has tried to paint the Dali Lama as a rebel separatist, and the government regularly pressures Tibetans to denounce him. But one scene of this documentary shows Tibetans prostrating themselves in front of the Dali Lama on TV. It is against this background that exiled Tibetans are gathering for this meeting. Some say they should drop the Dali Lama's conciliatory stance and such activists want independence. Some say the Dali Lama should name his next successor now so the Chinese government doesn't name a successor. The factions of the exiled Tibetan community all agree that the survival of the Tibetan religion and culture hangs in the balance.

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