Dalai Lama urges China to address immolations


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 - Page 1

The Dalai Lama yesterday said that China is more interested in criticizing him than in finding the reason behind a spate of Tibetan self-immolations threatening to mar the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) leadership change.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters in Japan that Beijing is not looking “seriously” at the protests taking place across the country during the highly choreographed meeting.

“The Chinese government should investigate the cause [of the incidents]. China does not look into it seriously and tries to end [the incidents] only by criticizing me,” he said, according to a Kyodo News report.

The comments come after seven people set themselves on fire within one week and are thought to be the Dalai Lama’s first on the issue since the CCP’s 18th Party Congress began in Beijing on Thursday last week.

On Saturday, an 18-year-old Tibetan died after setting himself ablaze in front of a monastery in Gansu Province, Xinhua news agency said.

Sixty-nine people have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule of Tibet since 2009, of whom 54 have died, the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile said before the latest incident.

The immolations have gained pace in recent months and particularly last week as the CCP opened its sensitive congress to pass the baton of power to the next generation of party apparatchiks.

The party has sought to project an image of national unity during the stage-managed gathering amid unrest in minority areas.

The escalating protests have been aimed at undercutting the facade, Tibetan government-in-exile representatives said in India.

On the sidelines of the congress on Friday, officials from the Tibetan Communist Party angrily denounced the Dalai Lama and overseas Tibetan “separatists” for orchestrating the immolations to breed unrest.

“The Dalai Lama clique and overseas Tibetan separatists have been sacrificing other people’s lives for their own secret political aims,” said Losang Gyaltsen, vice chairman of the Tibetan region’s government.

The Dalai Lama is nearing the end of a 12-day visit to Japan, a country to which he is a regular visitor and where he has a sizeable following.

He was in Okinawa yesterday, but is due to return to Tokyo today, where he is expected to speak to a cross-party group of parliamentarians. More than 100 Japanese lawmakers are expected to attend the speech, said Hakubun Shimomura, the secretary of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, who will jointly host the meeting, adding that politicians are to establish a Tibet support group.

Tokyo formally recognizes Beijing’s position that Tibet is a part of China and in a nod to this, the government bars its officials from meeting the Dalai Lama during his frequent visits.

China criticizes Japan for allowing the visits, which it says give the saffron-robed monk a platform for views it considers unacceptable.

During a trip to Japan in November last year, the 77-year-old said Tibetans faced “cultural genocide” under Beijing’s hardline rule, which he blamed for a wave of self-immolations at the time.