Tibetan exiles meeting in India have agreed to back the Dalai Lama’s policy of seeking autonomy, rather than full independence from China.The Tibetan spiritual leader’s approach to continue talks with Beijing received the majority vote at the meeting in Dharamsala, but delegates concluded that if China makes no effort to meet the demands, other options would be put forward.
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A generation gap in Tibet’s royal family
Jyoti Thottam in TIME:
Khedroob Thondup nephew of the Dalai Lama. AP
“I was seven years old in 1959, and I was studying in Darjeeling,” recalls Khedroop Thondop. “One day my teachers told me that I was to go and receive someone at the train station. That’s when I realized that I was related to His Holiness and that I was Tibetan.”
As the Dalai Lama’s nephew, the eldest son of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s eldest brother, Thondop, now 56, has already led an extraordinary life. He was born in Calcutta, where his father, a political leader in the Tibetan government, had been posted. He went to the elite St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi, got an MBA in the United States, ran a family business for several years in New York City, and then returned to India in 1977 to serve as his uncle’s special assistant. Two years later, he went to Beijing for Tibet’s first negotiations with China, taking notes on the meetings between his father and Chinese supreme authority at the time, Deng Xiaoping. For the last 21 years, he has run a center for Tibetan refugees in Darjeeling and has served three terms in the Tibetan parliament-in-exile.
Born in exile: the young Tibetans of Dharamsala
In the streets of Dharamsala, Sébastien Daguerressar, special correspondent of France 24 channel, got firsthand testimonies from these young Indian-born Tibetans, who dream of winning back a country they have never seen.
He sits on the pavement, facing the temple on Dharamsala’s main road. Teacup in hand and MP3 player in his ears, he takes in the sun. “I’m considering exile,’ he says, anticipating my question. His name is Khenrab Palden, 26, and exile for him is not just a personal goal – it’s a professional one. He is a filmmaker. His parents left Tibet before he was born, he explains. But thanks to the Tibetan community, his parents set up a business and managed to send their son to study in the US.
In Massachusetts, Khernrab studies anthropology, the history of religion, and film. “I feel 60% Tibetan, 20% Indian, and 20% American. My country will be where I make my living. Tibetans are like the Jews chased out of their countries by Hitler.”
Previously in AW: At exile meeting, Tibetans debate independence