'Hundreds of thousands' of Tibetans killed
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Tuesday accused China of having killed hundreds of thousands of his people and transforming his Himalayan homeland into a “hell on earth”.
In a speech on the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against China, he reiterated his demand for “legitimate and meaningful autonomy” for Tibet and told his followers that “the justice of Tibet’s cause will prevail”.
“These 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet,” said the Dalai Lama, speaking outside the main Tibetan temple in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
“Having occupied Tibet, the Chinese communist government carried out a series of repressive and violent campaigns.
“These thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on earth. The immediate result of these campaigns was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans.”
“Even today Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear,” he went on.
“Their religion, culture, language, identity are near extinction. The Tibetan people are regarded like criminals, deserving to be put to death.”
Chinese troops entered the devoutly Buddhist region in 1950 to “liberate” it from feudal rule, according to Beijing, but Chinese control there remains widely unpopular.
A failed uprising in March 1959 prompted the Dalai Lama to flee to India.
He told his supporters to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”, including many more years of fruitless campaigning.
The 73-year-old monk also voiced frustration that repeated rounds of talks between the India-based Tibetan government-in-exiled and Chinese officials have yielded no progress.
“And quite apart from the current process of Sino-Tibetan dialogue having achieved no concrete result, there has been brutal crackdown on the Tibetan protests that shook the whole of Tibet since March last year,” he said.
According to Tibetan exiles, a Chinese crackdown on the protests last year left 200 dead.
China says police killed one “insurgent” and blames Tibetan “rioters” for 21 deaths.
“We pay tribute and offer our prayers for all those who died, were tortured or suffered tremendous hardships, including during the crisis last year.”
The Dalai Lama’s steadfast campaign for patient dialogue with “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet has come in for criticism, with radical exiles frustrated that eight rounds of talks between his envoys and China since 2002 have failed.
But the Nobel Peace Prize winner again resisted pressure to radicalise his campaign against China, sticking by his “middle way” policy of calling for autonomy rather than demanding full independence.
“We Tibetans are looking for legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
“Looking back on 50 years in exile, we have witnessed many ups and downs, but the fact that the Tibetan issue is alive and the international community is taking a growing interest in it, it is indeed an achievement.
“I have no doubt that the justice of Tibet’s cause will prevail.” - AFP