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Dalai Lama Blames China for Deaths of Tibetans in Past 50 Years

By Steve Herman
New Delhi
10 March 2009

In some of his strongest criticism of Beijing in recent memory, the Dalai Lama is blaming the Chinese government for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his followers, in the past 50 years.

In remarks coinciding with the anniversary of a 1959 uprising that forced him from his homeland, the Dalai Lama blasted Chinese rule during the past half century.

The Tibetan spiritual leader says China's hard-line policies were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his people who endured what he calls "hell on earth."

The harsh words were immediately rejected by China's Foreign Ministry in Beijing, which said it would not respond to what it termed the "lies" of the Dalai Lama.

Speaking to reporters after formal remarks to followers in Dharamsala, India, the Tibetan spiritual leader Tuesday denied he is seeking independence for his homeland.

"We are totally committed [to] middle way of approach, not seeking separation. I can assure you 100 percent that we're fully committed," the Dalai Lama said.

He added that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is - in his words - either "fully ignorant or deliberately telling lies," when claiming the Dalai Lama envisions a greater Tibet encompassing one-fourth of Chinese territory and the relocation of non-Tibetans from the area.

Earlier, in a speech in the Tibetan language, the spiritual leader accused the Chinese of causing "untold suffering and destruction" in his homeland, since he was forced to flee. He says the Tibetan people have had to endure what he terms as "hell on earth," in the face of Chinese repression during the past half century.

Asked by a reporter about that remark, the Dalai Lama clarified what he calls the difference between biblical and Buddhist descriptions of hell and how he used the terminology in reference to the experience of the Tibetans under Chinese rule.

"So much sort of suffering, so much fear, so much anger, so much hatred and danger of their life," the Dalai Lama said. "Like hell."

Tibetan demonstrators marched peacefully in the streets of Dharamsala, following the Dalai Lama's speech.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said followers of the Dalai Lama are confusing right and wrong and spreading rumors.

Speaking to reporters, Ma said China's "democratic reforms" freed Tibetans from serfdom and advanced human rights for their own good, that of the Chinese people and the international community.

The Beijing government claims Tibet has been an integral part of China for centuries. It has ruled the mainly Buddhist territory for nearly 60 years.

China considers the Dalai Lama as a political figure, attempting to split Tibet from the rest of China.




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