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Global lawmakers’ meet on Tibet called off

A Tibetan Buddhist monk prays in front of a wall-mural of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama during a gathering to mark the 58th anniversary of the March 10, 1959 Tibetan Uprising Day on March 10, 2018.   | Photo Credit: AP

After the cancellation of events involving the Dalai Lama in Delhi, a global conference on Tibet, scheduled for next month, has also been put off, officials in Delhi and Dharamshala confirmed to The Hindu. The decision reflects “sensitivities” over upcoming high profile meetings between the Indian and Chinese leadership, they said.

The cancellation of the 7th World Parliamentarian’s Convention on Tibet, which had been planned for April 26-28 in Delhi is significant as the high profile event was going to be held in India 24 years after it was first held.

The last such convention, held in Canada in 2012, had attracted more than 50 parliamentarians from 30 countries.

Preparations underway

Preparations for the event this year were in full swing, and parliamentarians from the self-styled “Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE)” of the Central Tibetan Authority in India had met with several MPs in Delhi in December 2017 to extend invitations.

Global lawmakers’ meet on Tibet called off
 

“The World Parliamentarians conference on Tibet has been postponed,” confirmed former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP MP Shanta Kumar, who was the co-convenor of the conference.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) did not give any reasons for the postponement, only saying that it had been done due to “unforeseen circumstances”. Mr. Kumar, who also heads the Indo-Tibet Parliamentarians forum, did not indicate any alternative date when the conference would be held.

Tibetan community leaders also announced the “postponement” of the WPCT in the ongoing session of the ‘TPiE’ in Dharamshala this week.

‘Sensitive time’

The Ministry of External Affairs and the MHA, which handles affairs of the Tibetan community in India, declined to formally comment on the development. But a senior official aware of the preparations for the conference, which lawmakers from more than 20 countries were expected to attend, admitted that the cancellation came for the same reasons an inter-faith religious ceremony at Rajghat on March 31 was cancelled and a public rally at Delhi’s Thyagaraja stadium on April 1 was moved to Dharamshala. The Dalai Lama was to attend both events.

A spokesperson for the Dalai Lama’s Bureau had said while the government had not directly called for the cancellation of the events, its “concerns had been conveyed” to the Tibetan leadership, after reports that the Cabinet Secretary had put out a memo telling officials not to attend the events as it was a “sensitive time” for India-China relations, with several high profile meetings planned.

A Tibetan Buddhist monk with his face painted in the colours of the Tibetan flag attends a gathering to mark the 58th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day, in Dharmsala on March 10, 2018.

A Tibetan Buddhist monk with his face painted in the colours of the Tibetan flag attends a gathering to mark the 58th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day, in Dharmsala on March 10, 2018.   | Photo Credit: AP

 

Several senior Chinese party leaders, including Commerce Minister Zhong ,Shan are expected to visit Delhi in the next few weeks, while both Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit Beijing in April.

Meanwhile a diplomatic source said an “informal summit” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping even before they meet in Qingdao in June for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is being “worked on”.

Worrying u-turn

A Member of Parliament, who asked not to be named, said the government’s ‘U-turn’ on the Tibetan issue had set off alarm bells in the Tibetan refugee community in India. “Leaders of the Tibetan ‘parliament in exile’ (TPiE) are worried and called to discuss whether this was a phase in Sino-Indian ties, or a more permanent situation,” said the MP, who was also involved in the planning of the WPCT.

The moves are seen as an attempt to reset ties between New Delhi and Beijing, which have steadily deteriorated for the past few years. But in the last few weeks, a visit by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to Beijing, and China’s decision not to oppose a move against Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris have indicated that the narrative is turning.

The government’s alleged memo to officials, a decision to cancel an Asian security conference organised by the Ministry of Defence think-tank — the Institute of Defence and Strategic Analysis (IDSA) — in early March at the last minute, as well as the Dalai Lama’s decision to skip a visit to Manipur for the Indian Science Congress, were seen as attempts to avoid any controversy with Beijing during the reset.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 5:26:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/global-lawmakers-meet-on-tibet-called-off/article23324829.ece

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