Tibetan exiles from around the world are holding talks in northern India on ways to respond to a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese rule.
Some 400 delegates met in the Indian town of Dharamsala Tuesday for the start of the Special General Meeting of Tibetans.
Tuesday's gathering began with a procession of attendees carrying in a portrait of the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan spiritual leader is not participating in the discussions, having retired from political life. But he will take part in a prayer session on Friday, the gathering's last day.
The four-day meeting is expected to focus on the religious and political repression faced by those in Tibet, as well as ways to address the dozens of Tibetan self-immolations during the past few years.
China says the immolations incite separatism and are directed from outside the country. But representatives of the Dalai Lama, who lives in Dharamsala, say Tibetans are driven to set themselves on fire in large part because they can no longer tolerate Beijing's push against Tibetan culture and religion.
The prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, emphasized that point during Tuesday's discussions.
"The fact that Tibetans after 50-plus years are still protesting and in [the] drastic form of self-immolation clearly indicates that they are protesting against the occupation of Tibet and the repressive policies of the Chinese government," he said.
The Tibetan government-in-exile says 51 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March of 2009 to protest Chinese rule.
China views Tibet as a non-negotiable part of its territory and has long accused the Dalai Lama of trying to separate the Himalayan region from China. The Dalai Lama has said repeatedly that he is not pushing for Tibetan independence, but for greater autonomy.
This week's Special General Meeting of Tibetans is the second of its kind. The first meeting in 2008 came after protests in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, that prompted a deadly Chinese government crackdown.