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Amidst self-immolations, Nobel Laureates urge China to talk with the Dalai Lama
Phayul[Tuesday, April 03, 2012 21:11]
DHARAMSHALA, April 3: Twelve Nobel Peace laureates have written an open letter to President Hu Jintao of China, urging him to engage in “meaningful dialogue” with the Dalai Lama to address issues that are at the “heart of the current tension” in Tibet.

The laureates, including Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams and Lech Walesa, expressed concern over “the drastic expressions of resentment by the people of Tibet” and urged President Hu to “respect the dignity of the Tibetan people.”

The open letter comes amidst a wave of self-immolations in Tibet and India, which has witnessed 34 Tibetans set their bodies on fire demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.

“The international community is concerned by the drastic expressions of resentment by the people of Tibet through self-immolation,” the letter reads. “The Chinese government should hear their voices, understand their grievances and find a non-violent solution.”

The letter calls for President Hu to open up Tibet to journalists and diplomats, stop the arbitrary detention of Tibetans and respect religious freedom.

“Specifically, we are respectfully requesting that the Chinese government release all those who have been arbitrarily detained; cease the intimidation, harassment and detention of peaceful protestors; allow unrestricted access for journalists, foreign diplomats, and international organizations to Tibet; and respect religious freedom.”

The letter “strongly” urged the Chinese government to “seize the opportunity” the Dalai Lama provides for a “meaningful dialogue.”

“Once formed, this channel should remain open, active and productive,” the letter states.

Incidentally, an article published by the state-run China Daily on Monday said Beijing is ready to resume the stalled talks with the representatives of the Dalai Lama if the Tibetan spiritual leader “truly gives up Tibetan independence.”

"The central government has also made clear its willingness for talks if the Dalai Lama truly gives up Tibetan independence. The door remains open to him," the article said.

However, the spokesperson for the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration, Tashi dismissed the “unofficial” remarks as “rhetoric” and “repetitive.”

“There is nothing new. It’s the same old repetition,” Tashi told Phayul. “If Beijing is really ready to talk, we are always ready to talk without any preconditions.”

Since direct contacts with the People’s Republic of China were re-established in 2002, Special Envoy Gyari Lodi and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen have had nine formal rounds of discussion and one informal meeting with Chinese representatives.

The last round of meeting was held in January 2010 in Beijing.

So far, the dialogue process has failed to yield concrete results, with the envoys repeatedly stating that large differences still remained on “fundamental issues”.
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