By Phuntsok Yangchen
Panel discussion on the Middle Way Approach organised by the Tibetan Women's Association in Dharamshala on September 10, 2012. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, September 11: The largest Tibetan women’s group in exile, the Tibetan Women’s Association, commemorated 28 years of its re-founding in exile on Monday.
TWA was reinstated in exile on September 10, 1984 after its “historical founding began in Lhasa, Tibet on March 12, 1959.”
Tashi Dolma, President of TWA in a statement paid tribute to the growing number of Tibetans who are setting themselves on fire demanding Tibet’s freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama form exile.
Dolma, while urging world leaders to speak for Tibet, said the Chinese Government’s “allegations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile as the perpetrator of the self-immolations are completely untrue and groundless.”
“We, in fact, hold the Chinese Government and its hard-line policies on the Tibetan people responsible for these immolations.”
TWA held a panel discussion on ‘Middle Way Approach; its Past, Present and Future,’ inviting three members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Thupten Lungrik, Bawa Kalsang Gyaltsen and Dhardon Sharling, to speak on the exile Tibetan administration’s policy seeking genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Speaking first on the evolution of Middle Way Approach, Dhardon Sharling said that although the name “Middle Way Approach” came into existence in 1988, the Dalai Lama had pursued a middle path in dealings with China since 1951.
She said the policy enjoys “consistent and massive support” of the Tibetan people and the unanimous backing by the TPiE members.
“The ideological foundation, guiding principles and the facets of the middle way policy testifies the farsightedness and benevolence of this policy which the Chinese government has till date spurned,” Dhardon said.
Sharing his views on the achievements of MWA, former education minister Thupten Lungrik remarked that it was only after 1979, following the change of policy from demanding independence to autonomy that the world began to accept Tibet.
“The unflinching international support towards the Tibetan cause and the period of relaxation in Tibet during which Tibetans inside and outside Tibet could enjoy free access and mobility are the achievements of the policy which envisions a peaceful and a mutually beneficial solution to the crisis inside Tibet,” Lungrik said.
Bawa Kalsang Gyaltsen, while speaking on the future prospects of MWA, echoed sentiments of Chinese scholars and friends who support Tibet’s demand for genuine autonomy.
“The Chinese communist society is in essence a rigid and a tapered society and there is absolutely minimal chance for the Chinese leadership and the masses to heed to the demands for an independent Tibet,” Gyaltsen said.
The panel discussion was followed by a question and answer session.
TWA also launched a 7-minute video compilation documenting the spate of self-immolations inside and outside Tibet.
TWA has 56 regional chapters and over 16,000 members outside Tibet and is the only women’s NGO in exile that advocates human rights for Tibetan women in Tibet and works to empower Tibetan women in exile, in particular new refugee women from Tibet.