/ 5 May 2008

China’s press accuses Dalai Lama of ‘monstrous crimes’

China’s state press on Monday accused the Dalai Lama of ”monstrous crimes,” a day after Chinese officials reportedly agreed with envoys of the exiled Tibetan Buddhist to keep the door open on dialogue.

The Chinese officials and the envoys met in southern China on Sunday for their first talks in over a year following global pressure on Beijing to reopen negotiations with the Dalai Lama amid seven weeks of deadly unrest in Tibet.

The highly secretive talks in an undisclosed location in the city of Shenzhen ended with an agreement to meet again, although no date was set and no other major breakthrough was reported, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Tibet’s government-in-exile, which said ahead of the talks that its top concern in the talks was to end the current wave of repression in the Himalayan region, revealed no details on Monday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday voiced hope that progress would be made in the talks and that he wanted future channels of negotiation to remain open.

”I hope some positive results will be achieved in the meeting,” Hu told Japanese reporters in Beijing ahead of his visit to Tokyo this week.

United States President George Bush was one of the world leaders who had pressured China to restart negotiations to end the Tibetan crisis and the White House immediately welcomed their resumption.

”We hope discussions can lead to better understanding,” White House spokesperson Tony Fratto said on Sunday.

But China, which has blamed the Dalai Lama for the unrest that erupted in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, on March 14 and spread to Tibetan-populated regions around the country, showed no signs that the talks had changed its position.

”Following the March 14 incident in Lhasa, the Dalai has not only refused to admit his monstrous crimes, but he has continued to perpetuate fraud,” an article in Monday’s Tibet Daily said.

The article, which did not refer to Sunday’s talks, described the Dalai Lama’s demands for ”genuine autonomy” in Tibet and the ”greater Tibetan region” as fraudulent.

The ”Dalai Clique” is trying to ”confuse public opinion and incite ethnic hatred,” the article said. The Dalai Lama’s attempt to realise a ”greater Tibetan region, is part of his attempt to split the motherland,” it said.

The paper insisted that Tibetans currently enjoyed full autonomy and did not need the ”genuine autonomy” the Dalai Lama had called for.

Meanwhile, the English-language China Daily called the Tibetan Youth Congress, run by exiled Tibetans, a ”terrorist organisation” bent on separating Tibet from China.

China has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of wanting independence for his homeland and of fomenting the recent unrest in an effort to shine a world spotlight on Tibet ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner has rejected these accusations, but has accused China of widespread human rights violations against his people and maintained his push for greater Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule.

The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans have been killed and about 1 000 hurt in the Chinese crackdown on the latest unrest. China says Tibetan ”rioters” and ”insurgents” have killed 21 people.

Thubten Samphel, spokesman of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala, India, told Agence France-Presse on Monday that the Dalai Lama’s envoys would likely leave China on Tuesday.

”They will be in India on Wednesday or Thursday to brief his holiness [the Dalai Lama] on what transpired,” Samphel said.

He said the Tibetan administration may hold a press conference after the Dalai Lama was briefed.

Sunday’s meeting was between Sitar, who uses only one name, and Zhu Weiqun from China’s ruling Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, and the Dalai Lama’s top envoys, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen. – AFP