Women delegates protesting at the Beijing conferenceWomen delegates gagged to symolize China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices at the Beijing conferenceWomen delegates gagged to symolize China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices at the Beijing conferenceWomen delegates gagged to symolize China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices at the Beijing conferenceWomen delegates gagged to symolize China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices at the Beijing conference


The TWD's initial contact with the TAR delegates revealed them
to be a mixed group in terms of sentiment.While most TAR delegates
were circumspect and not overtly friendly upon seeing the Tibetans
from exile, they certainly responded to them when greeted in Tibetan.
A few of the TAR delegates became quite warm and friendly after 
a while. Others would smile and say the obligatory "Tashi Delek"
but would not slow down to talk, while others would pretend not
to see the Tibetans from exile and walk by. 

The TWD's contact with the TAR delegates became problematic on the
third day of the NGO Forum, at the TWD workshop. The spokesperson
for the TAR delegates played a leading role in the orchestrated 
take-over of the workshop (see Section IV). 
Supporting her were eight other TAR delegates, including the most 
outspoken TAR delegate who sat in the front row. When the TWD had
no choice but to walk out of the workshop, they were followed by 
Chinese members as well as some new TAR delegates who had been 
called to the building to accost the TWD further as they tried to exit.
One of these TAR delegates, a large Tibetan woman, physically pulled 
one Tibetan exile delegate as she tried to walk away and grabbed the 
name badge around another's neck asking her who she was. 

Until this point, the TWD delegates had discussed making a visit to
the Chinese government sponsored "Tibet Tent" to meet with the TAR
delegates.The TWD planned to do this en masse, as it would have a
more pronounced effect; however, after the aggressive action witnessed
during the workshop, the TWD decided that a trip to the "Tibet Tent"
would only create more opportunities for Chinese media to present
a divided Tibetan people, something the TWD wanted to avoid. When 
the TWD and TAR delegates encountered each other on the Forum grounds,
TAR delegates repeatedly asked them why they had not visited their
tent, suggesting that they were being led around by westerners and 
that the Tibetan exiles were the ones without freedom, not them.
When the Tibetans from exile explained they were with western 
"buddies" because they felt they needed protection from the 
Chinese government, the TAR delegates denied there was any threat
to security and even denied that they were being surveyed.   

When the topic of conversation turned to the situation in Tibet, 
the TAR delegates held firm on their statement that conditions were
much better today under the Chinese government. The standard line
of argument began with questioning what the younger TWD delegates
knew about Tibet anyway, since they were too young to know how bad 
things were under the "old society".They said the exile Tibetans were
not even born in Tibet and then asked if they had been to Tibet 
(in fact several of the TWD delegates were born in Tibet).When younger
TWD delegates responded that they had been to Tibet, they asked what
year. When the exile Tibetans responded two years ago, they asked how
long had they stayed. When they said a month, they said that was not 
long enough to know the real situation in Tibet and that they should 
stay much longer in the future. 

The eldest member of the TWD and a veteran of the so-called 
"old society", provided interesting counterpoints to the TAR 
delegates' claims.To her, they could not say she did not know 
what old Tibet was like. To her, instead they complained that 
the TWD delegation was young,a group of children who did not
even speak Tibetan.  When the TWD delegate spoke to two of the
TAR Tibetans at length, one of them respectfully listened. The 
other expressed obvious indignation but did not have the 
knowledge to counter the exile Tibetan's statements about 
imprisoned nuns, reproductive rights and human rights violations. 

During one conversation, a group of three TAR delegates told a 
Tibetan exile that they enjoyed freedom in Tibet. The TWD delegate 
asked them if they were free, then had they been to India to see the
Dalai Lama? This question caused them to look at each other uneasily.
They responded that only those Tibetans with relatives outside are 
allowed to go to India, to which the TWD delegate responded that that 
does not seem like freedom.  When the TWD delegate described that 
in the free world, people are allowed to travel anywhere they wish, 
the TAR delegates' eyes widened. These women did not seem to be aware
of this common freedom. One of the TWD's most important goals was 
to educate Tibetan women and let them know that the exile Tibetans 
and others in the free world are aware of the real issues in Tibet 
and will continue to work for them. The TWD hoped that this knowledge
would offer encouragement to them.

Clearly, some of the contact with the TAR delegates was quite disturbing
for the TWD, including the take over of the TWD workshop and the incident
in which the two TWD delegates from Australia were verbally assaulted by
a group of TAR delegates.However, on the last day of the NGO Forum, 
when a few TAR delegates saw the TWD was leaving, they conveyed in
gestures what they could not do in words. They shook TWD members' 
hands very tightly, looking at them a long time, and said they were
glad to have met them. This interaction was meaningful to the Tibetans
from exile.

D.The Official UN Conference

Once at the official UN Conference, TAR delegates were not
visible for a few days. The TWD suspected that the Chinese government
had not planned on having TAR delegates attend the official Conference,
but when they saw Tibetan exiles there, they quickly arranged to have
two TAR delegates attend. 

During the official Conference, a reporter with the Voice of America 
attempted to arrange a telephone interview between a leader of the 
TAR delegation and the eldest member of the TWD who represented the
Tibetan Women's Association in India.The TAR delegate declined the 
interview, stating that she had already said what she wanted to say
during the TAR press briefing and had no reason to speak further.
The interview was carried on without her.

E. Lessons and Accomplishments

In retrospect, it may be pointless to say how the relationship
between Tibetan exiles and TAR delegates could have been improved
since it occurred in the context of an unpredictable, hostile and
potentially dangerous situation.However, the TWD could have better
 coordinated the collection of information on the identity of TAR
delegates. On a positive note, the contact between the TWD and
TAR delegates may have educated and provided hope for some of
 the TAR delegates, who may bring such knowledge and hope back to 

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