Tibetans mark 53 years of government-in-exile

The Tibetan government-in-exile on Monday asserted again its demand of equal rights for the people of Tibet in China.

Dharamsala: The Tibetan government-in-exile, which came into existence formally in this town 53 years ago, Monday asserted again its demand of equal rights for the people of Tibet in China, as enjoyed by other ethnic minorities there.

"We have repeatedly explained to the Chinese government the essence of the mutually beneficial `middle-way policy`, which is based upon the coexistence of the two communities and the entitlement of equal rights and prerogatives to the Tibetan people, as is enjoyed by the other national minorities," the parliament-in-exile said on Tibetan Democracy Day, which marks the anniversary of the Tibetan democratic system in exile.

Decrying China National Political Consultative Committee chairman Yu Zhengsheng`s statement, who had earlier said that the Dalai Lama`s demand for `high degree of autonomy` contravenes China`s constitution, the parliament-in-exile said: "His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration have striven for genuine autonomy for all Tibetans as per the provisions contained in the PRC (People`s Republic of China) constitution and autonomy law, which clearly spell out the right to regional ethnic autonomy. To say that this breaches the constitution clearly exposes the insincerity, hypocrisy and true face of Chinese communist autocrats who are illegally destroying Tibetan race, religion and culture."

The statement added that because of the repressive policies, 120 Tibetan men and women have immolated themselves as a form of protest from 2009 till date. A total of 103 of them have died.

However, the Chinese government has not shown any understanding of its responsibility of probing into the demands and aspirations of the self-immolators, it said.

A separate statement issued by the Tibetan cabinet said: "The `middle-way approach` traverses the middle path between the two positions: One, accepting the current repression in Tibet and two, seeking separation from the PRC. Such an arrangement does not challenge PRC`s sovereignty and territorial integrity -- two of its core concerns."

Expressing gratitude to the Indian government, it said: "We are grateful for the extensive aid and protection provided by the people and government of India."

With the Dalai Lama stepping down from diplomacy and active politics in 2011, the elected leader of Tibetan people, also known as the prime minister-in-exile, has acquired added stature.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan administration-in-exile is based in this north Indian hill town.