Friday, March 14, 2008

Dalai Lama: stop the violence in Tibet

Dalai Lama: Stop the Violence in Tibet

The Associated Press
Friday, March 14, 2008; 2:46 PM

DHARMSALA, India -- China must stop using force against protesters in Tibet, the Dalai Lama said Friday, calling the demonstrations a manifestation of the "long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people."

The Tibetan spiritual leader and head of Tibet's government-in-exile said in a statement that he was "deeply concerned over the situation that has been developing in Tibet following peaceful protests."

His comments came as protests by Buddhist monks in Tibet turned violent Friday. Shops and vehicles were set on fire and gunshots were heard in the streets of the capital, Lhasa. A radio report said two people were killed in the largest demonstrations in nearly two decades against Beijing's 57-year rule over Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 amid an aborted uprising against Chinese rule, called on Beijing to "stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence."

In New Delhi, police clashed with scores of protesters as they tried to march to the Chinese Embassy. Officers were seen arresting at least two dozen people. No serious injuries were reported.

Earlier Friday, more than 100 Tibetan exiles began two weeks of detention in northern India after police arrested them at the start of a six-month march to their homeland to protest China's hosting of the Olympic Games.

The exiles are being held in a hotel while authorities investigate charges they threatened the "peace and tranquility" of the region, said Tenzin Palkyi, a march coordinator.

The demonstrators had planned to arrive in Tibet at the start of the Olympics in August. Fearing the march would embarrass China, Indian officials banned the Tibetan exiles from leaving the Kangra district that surrounds Dharmsala. After their arrest, the marchers pledged to start a hunger strike.

On Friday, nearly 1,500 Tibetan Youth Congress members carrying candles, Tibetan flags and portraits of the Dalai Lama marched through the streets of Dharmsala in protest of the detention.

"We have been enjoying considerable freedom in India and I do not think that this group of peaceful marchers going home have flouted any law of the country," said Thupten Samphal, the official spokesman for the exiled government.

Late Thursday, India's foreign ministry said in a statement that the government "does not permit Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India."

Beijing maintains that Tibet is historically part of China, but many Tibetans argue the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries and accuse China of trying to crush Tibetan culture by swamping it with Han people, the majority Chinese ethnic group.

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