Two envoys of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama who led nine rounds of on-off talks with China have resigned, citing frustration at a lack of progress and increased tension within Tibet, the government-in-exile said.
Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen had led the talks since 2002, though the last meeting took place more than two years ago, the India-based exiled government said in an e-mailed statement sent late on Sunday.
“Given the deteriorating situation inside Tibet since 2008 leading to the increasing cases of self-immolations by Tibetans, we are compelled to submit our resignations,” the statement cited the joint resignation letter as saying.
The envoys’ Chinese government counterparts “did not respond positively” to Tibetan proposals for genuine autonomy, the statement added.
“One of the key Chinese interlocutors in the dialogue process even advocated abrogation of minority status as stipulated in the Chinese constitution thereby seeming to remove the basis of autonomy. At this particular time, it is difficult to have substantive dialogue,” the letter said.
China has accused the Dalai Lama of not being serious about wanting to talk with Beijing and demanded he give up his support for violence and Tibetan independence.
China has said it will only talk about the Dalai Lama’s future and not negotiate directly with the government-in-exile.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate monk insists he only wants real autonomy for Tibet and denies charges of stoking unrest.
China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since 1950, when Communist troops marched in and announced its “peaceful liberation.”
However, Beijing insists Chinese rule has bought development and prosperity and denies trampling Tibetan rights.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising, and unrest has continued sporadically ever since.
Exile groups say Tibet is particularly tense at present after two self-immolation protests against Chinese rule. One of the men died.
At least 35 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March last year in protest against China’s six-decade rule over Tibet, though mostly in heavily Tibetan areas outside of what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. At least 27 have died.