The office of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, denied yesterday that it had received a request from the US-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC) seeking cooperation, a response that Chinese experts said would be indicative of the Dalai Lama's reluctance to be connected with the organization believed behind the riots in Xinjiang.
Alim Seytoff, a WUC spokesman, called on the Dalai Lama this week in a letter to cooperate with the group in a “global action” against the Chinese government on behalf of WUC President Rebiya Kadeer, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA), which said it received a copy of the letter from the Dalai Lama's office in New Delhi.
This is the first time that the WUC has explicitly said it hoped to obtain support and cooperation from the Dalai Lama since the July 5 riots in Urumqi, the report said.
However, Tenzin Taklha, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama's office, told the Global Times by phone yesterday that his office hadn't received such a letter from the WUC.
Taklha declined to say whether the exiled Tibetans would show support to the WUC. “We are dedicated to seeking mutually agreeable solutions,” he said.
Pan Zhiping, a senior researcher at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times yesterday that the Dalai Lama may fear that closer ties with the WUC would have a negative impact on his reputation and influence in the West.
Western governments have been largely muted in response to the riots in Urumqi, and that is because the Uygurs “lack a charismatic figure such as the Dalai Lama to lead them,” according to a report in the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail.
The report noted that the United States has adopted a mild tone, with President Barack Obama merely asking all parties in Xinjiang “to exercise restraint.”
The European Union said that the violence in Xinjiang “is a Chinese issue, not a European issue.” Serge Abou, the EU's ambassador to China, noted that Europe has its own problems with minorities, and “we would not like other governments to tell us what is to be done.”
Pan said that Kadeer hoped to take advantage of the influence of the Dalai Lama, the so-called Tibetan spiritual leader, to disguise the WUC as a fighter for peace and human rights, and to win international recognition and support.
Kadeer met the Dalai Lama for the first time in 2005, soon after she fled to the US after being released on bail for medical treatment.
And on July 19, 2007, Dailai and Kadeer met for 45 minutes in Hamburg, Germany.
A WUC spokesman said that campaigning in the same city with the Dalai Lama would increase the international recognition of the “Uygur problem” on that occasion.
When they met again in another campaign at the MCI Center in Washington, DC, on March 19, 2008, several days after the March 14 incident in Tibet, Kadeer expressed her support for the Dalai Lama and his group.
Pan said there is no doubt that “the two groups of separatists have always had links and will continue to secretly work together.”
Such a view was echoed by Chinese government officials. Qin Gang, foreign ministry spokesman, said at a regular press briefing Tuesday that Kadeer and the Dalai Lama have one thing in common, “They are both engaged in activities of splitting China and undermining national unity.”
Pan doubted that the Dalai Lama would show support to the WUC, at least openly, given that the riots in Urumqi caused indignation among the Chinese public.
“The terroristic nature of the WUC was fully displayed in the July 5 deadly riots, which targeted helpless civilians,” Pan said. “Even other separatist groups do not want to be compared with the WUC.”