Wed, Mar 19, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Dalai Lama threatens to resign as head of exiled government if violence worsens

AP , DHARMSALA, INDIA

The Dalai Lama threatened yesterday to step down as leader of Tibet's government-in-exile if violence committed by Tibetans in his homeland spirals out of control.

He sharply rejected accusations by China that he orchestrated last week's demonstrations in Tibet -- and the violence that ensued.

"I say to China and the Tibetans -- don't commit violence," he told reporters in the northern Indian hill town of Dharmsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

While the situation inside Tibet remains unclear, much of the recent violence appears to have been committed by Tibetans. Worries have grown that Chinese troops trying to reassert control over Lhasa were exacting retribution.

"Whether we like it or not, we have to live together side by side," said the Dalai Lama."We must oppose Chinese policy but not the Chinese. Not on a racist basis."

Though clearly fearful of China's crackdown -- he compared the plight of Tibetans to that of "a young deer in a tiger's hands" -- he also said he was troubled by Tibetan attacks on ethnic Han Chinese.

He said that "if things become out of control," his "only option is to completely resign."

But the Dalai Lama refused to call on the Tibetans inside Tibet to end peaceful protests.

He also denied Chinese accusations he was behind the uprising, suggesting that the Chinese themselves may have had a hand in it to discredit him.

"It's possible some Chinese agents are involved there," he said. "Sometimes totalitarian regimes are very clever, so it is important to investigate."

He said if China had proof they should present it to the world and open up the region to international organizations, adding that Chinese officials were welcome to come to Dharmsala and search his records.

"They can examine my pulse, my urine, my stool, everything," he said.

Tenzin Taklha, a top aide, later said that the Dalai Lama meant he would step down as the political leader -- not as the supreme religious leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

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