Dalai Lama warns of imminent unrest in Tibet

11th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

During a visit to Baden Baden to receive a prize, the spiritual leader said the situation in Tibet is “very tense.”

Baden Baden -- The Dalai Lama warned Wednesday of a fresh uprising in Tibet in the "very tense" run-up to the 50th anniversary of the failed rebellion against Chinese rule that prompted his flight into exile.

"Today there is too much anger,” said the 73-year-old Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader during a visit to the German spa town of Baden Baden. “The situation is very tense. At any moment, there can be an outburst of violence. This is my worry because with more uprising, there will be more crackdown. Things are very sad."

The Dalai Lama also specifically addressed fears of the Chinese military.

"It is so tense that the Chinese military have their hands on the trigger when they carry weapons,” he said. “So long as there is a Chinese military presence, there will be tension. Since public execution is difficult, they use torture when Tibetans are detained. As soon as people are arrested, they use torture -- and sometimes they kill them."

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising by Tibetans against communist Chinese rule -- a violent episode that prompted the Dalai Lama's flight into exile in India.

China regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist agitating for independence for Tibet. It lodges strong protests whenever he meets with political leaders overseas or is accorded an official welcome of any kind.

Now based in Dharamsala, India, the Dalai Lama denies he is seeking independence, saying he only wants real autonomy for Tibet and an end to Chinese cultural oppression.

He was in Baden Baden for a ceremony on Tuesday in which he received the 2008 German Media Prize, which is awarded every year by a panel of German editors and journalists.

Previous recipients have included Bill Clinton, the former American president; Nelson Mandela, the Nobel laureate and former South African president; and Helmut Kohl, Germany's former chancellor.

Unrest most recently erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on March 14 last year, and spread to Tibetan-populated regions around China.

Tibet's government-in-exile, which is led by the Dalai Lama, said more than 200 Tibetans were killed and about 1,000 hurt in a subsequent Chinese crackdown. The figures are disputed by Beijing.

Earlier on Wednesday, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency revealed the sentencing of 76 people in connection with the violence -- an increase from a previously reported figure of 55.

The Dalai Lama said Wednesday his information about the situation in Tibet came from "Tibetan groups or individuals who come to see me when they leave Tibet."

He said he understood that, after more than a half-century under Chinese rule, many Tibetans have "desperate opinions," but he said that non-violence was the only way forward. "The Chinese systematically suppress Tibetan identity. The Chinese are determined to crush it mercilessly."

In many places in Tibet, he said, schools have been closed, including privately funded schools that are "more free to teach Tibetan identity." It is essential, he said, "to create a signal (to Beijing) that the Tibetan question won't go, unless a mutually accepted solution is found. That is important. The interest for Tibetan culture and Tibetan human rights is now worldwide."

Pierre-Antoine Donnet/AFP/Expatica

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