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Exile leader reiterates Tibet autonomy call in BBC Hard Talk interview, urges China to end assimilation agenda

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(, May07’23) – China wants the Dalai Lama to “admit” that Tibet was part of China since ancient times. But this is not the reason why it refuses to discuss genuine autonomy for his occupied homeland. Rather it insists that it liberated Tibet and the latter is already autonomous. In his Hard Talk interview with the BBC Television on May 5, Sikyong, or executive head, Mr Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration reiterated the exile Tibetans’ long-standing position of seeking autonomy, not independence.

He called on Beijing to end its policies that are aimed at Sinicizing the Tibetan culture and identity and at thereby destroying the historical basis of Tibet’s existence.

Asked by the BBC Hard Talk host Sarah Montague what he wanted for Tibet, Sikyong reiterated that he was seeking genuine autonomy “not only in name but also in essence” based on the reality of the situation.

He wanted China “to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict in a non-violent peaceful means through negotiations that should be mutually beneficial and lasting”.

Rejecting China’s contention that Tibet has been part of its sovereign territory since ancient times, Tsering contended that Tibet has been independent till Communist China invaded it (in the 1950’s).

“But then we leave the independent status of Tibet aside but ask for genuine autonomy for the benefit of Tibetans in the future,” he said.

The Sikyong accused China of being out to destroy Tibetan identity and culture, including with its current forced enrolment of Tibetan children in colonial-style boarding schools.

“In these boarding schools, then you are taught Chinese, even the medium of instruction is Mandarin. Then you are taught Chinese history, historical version of Communist China, you are taught how to maintain allegiance to Communist Party,” he has said.

Tsering also said China’s claimed poverty reduction and economic development programmes in Tibet were primarily concerned with its own economic interests with no understanding of the real aspirations of the Tibetan people.

He also spoke about the success of the Tibetan people in reviving their Buddhist culture and traditional education in exile over the past 63 years.


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