On March 10, 2008 the Chinese government suppressed riots in Tibet, killing more than 100 people. That riot worried Tibetans and Tibetans in the exile, including Tibetans in Minnesota, which has the second largest Tibetan Community in the United States. On October 19 more than 150 people, mostly Tibetans in exile, gathered at the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota in St. Paul to discuss the situation of the Tibetan Government in Exile. There was a question and answer panel discussion with Tibetan Community of Minnesota board members. The majority of the people that came to the meetings were in their mid 30s to mid 60s.
The discussion centered on whether Tibetans should back the full independence of Tibet, or the so-called “Middle Way Path,” in which Tibet would become an autonomous region of China. Many Tibetans at the meeting supported the “Middle Way Path,” which the Dalai Lama prefers over full independence. A majority of the audience also said they wanted the Dalai Lama to lead a “Middle Way Path” Tibet.
During the meeting the audience divided into nine different discussion groups. The board members gave out stickers so that the groups could identify which concerns were most and least important to the Tibetan community in Minnesota. The community members ultimately identified the following three issues as most important: 1) The Dalai Lama should be the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, 2) The Dalai Lama should be the voice for six million Tibetans, both in the country and in exile, and, 3) The Tibetan community will support the Dalai Lama in advocating for the Middle Way Path.
Dr. Tsewang Ngodup, a Tibetan Community of Minnesota board member, will raise these questions when he heads to India on November 17th 2008, where he will meet with other Tibetan representatives from around the world to discuss on the situation of Tibet and the Tibetan society outside of Tibet.