Kachin JST delegation meets Tibetan exile government


Tibetan exiled president Lobsang with the visiting Kachin delegation on Tuesday.

In an event that may raise a few eyebrows in China, the President of Central Tibetan Administration Dr Lobsang Sangay has met with an eleven-member delegation from Kachin state in Myanmar, led by Mr Gum Sha Aung from the Kachin Joint Strategy Team (JST).

The JST includes members from Bridging Rural Integrated Development and Grassroots Empowerment (BRIDGE), the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), Kachin Relief and Development Committee, Kachin Women’s Association, Kachin Development Group, Karuna Mission Social Solidarity, Metta Development Foundation, Nyein (Shalom) Foundation and Wunpawng Ninghtoi.

The JST provides support for more than 100,000 Kachin IDPs, often bringing aid from China.

The visit comes at a time when the Burmese army, the Tatmadaw, has unleashed a fierce ground and air offensive against the rebels of the Kachin Independence Army.

During the meeting, Dr Lobsang Sangay explained the democratic structure of the Tibetan administration and the functions of the various departments, autonomous bodies and offices of the Central Tibetan Administration.

He also apprised them of the critical situation inside Tibet and the importance of preserving the unique Tibetan language and culture to safeguard Tibetan identity.

The delegation had earlier visited the Tibetan parliamentary secretariat and the various non-governmental organisations and institutes based in Dharamsala.
  
India may have facilitated the Kachin delegation 's visit because it wants to help the Kachins link up to the Dalai Lama and get his support to pressure the Burmese military to stop the offensive in Kachin state.

That Dalai Lana has supported the Rohingya cause strongly as a Buddhist leader is not lost on Kachins.

India is upset with the Myanmar government for not expediting Rohingya repatriation which it sees as crucial for ensuring the victory of India's friend in Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.

So putting pressure on Buddhist majority Myanmar may explain why India has allowed the Kachins to visit Dharamsala.  

India has recently scaled down its involvement with the Tibetan government in exile to soothe ruffled nerves in China. A government order has asked all officials and Institutions to avoid attending ceremonies organised by the Tibetan government in Exile.

Analysts say it is unlikely India would sponsor a Kachin delegation visit to Dharmasala on the eve of two high-level state visits to China by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. 

They say Delhi has merely allowed the visit to happen to send a terse signal to Myanmar to play ball on accepting the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh. 

That is seen as crucial by Delhi to ensure a poll victory for India's friend Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and also to avoid the Rohingyas from spilling over into Indian territory.

On Wednesday, speaking at a colloquium organised by the think tank ISCS in Calcutta on India-Bangladesh relations, MEA joint secretary Sripriya Ranganathan underscored India's emphasis on starting the repatriation of the Rohingyas at the earliest possible date.

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