Tibetans will decide strategy with democracy: Dalai Lama

by Jun Hongo

The people of Tibet should and will decide negotiation strategy with China later this month through a genuinely democratic manner, the Dalai Lama said Sunday.

The Tibetan spiritual leader, accused by Beijing of masterminding a separatist movement, is in Japan for a week at the invitation of a Fukuoka-based Buddhist organization.

During a joint interview with Japanese media at a Tokyo hotel, he explained that envoys from Tibetan communities will meet for a week at Dharamsala, India, beginning Nov. 17, and international groups supporting Tibet will gather in Delhi later in the month to decide Tibet’s approach toward achieving “realistic autonomy” from China.

Envoys for Tibet’s government in exile left India on Wednesday for talks with officials in Beijing, but the Dalai Lama said he hasn’t received word yet on how the meeting has been going.

While he said he hasn’t given up hope or resigned from his position, the Dalai Lama said he could no longer take direct responsibility for discussions with Beijing, and decisions will be made based on a consensus of the people through a democratic process.

The meeting of Tibetan communities and international organizations could alter Tibetans’ strategy with China, and the Dalai Lama said he intends not to talk of his preferences until the meetings are over.

Tibetans believe in genuine democracy “unlike the communist democracy in China,” he said, explaining that “people may not express (their thoughts) freely” if he were to voice his position.

However the Dalai Lama repeated during the interview that his ultimate goal is not to gain independence from Beijing but to make sure Tibet’s cultural and religious heritage is not destroyed.

“We are not seeking separation from China” because remaining a part of the rapidly growing economy will help Tibet’s development, he said.

Preserving Tibetan Buddhism and its ideology will benefit China as well, where “very dirty, corrupted capitalism” is emerging, he added.

“But the Chinese (government) ignores these things, continues to accuse us, and is full of suspicion,” the Dalai Lama said, criticizing the regime for having “no ear but only mouth.”

China has controlled Tibet since invading the region in the 1950s. Beijing has ruled its people through what the Dalai Lama described as “use of force to keep stability,” which has caused scores of riots. Frustration reached its peak this spring, when antigovernment monks rioted. The Dalai Lama criticized Beijing’s crackdowns on the Tibetan people during and after the clashes. Tibet “very much hoped that the Chinese government may see reality, and how many grievances are in Tibetan mind,” the Dalai Lama said, but he expressed disappointment that China has only continued to blame him as the mastermind of separatists and the riots.

“There is an iron curtain within their minds, never seeing reality. Never seeing others’ views,” he said.

“It is important to know the limitation of material value,” the Dalai Lama said, explaining that repletion of the mind is far more valuable than financial wealth.

The Dalai Lama’s health has been a concern after the 73-year-old underwent surgery for gallstones last month, but he said that although the operation was complicated, he has surprised his doctors with his quick recovery.