Dalai Lama blasts 'brutal crackdown' in Tibet | world | Hindustan Times
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Dalai Lama blasts 'brutal crackdown' in Tibet

China has launched a "brutal crackdown" in Tibet since protests shook the Himalayan region last year, the Dalai Lama said on Tuesday in transcripts of a speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising that sent him into exile.

world Updated: Mar 10, 2009 09:47 IST

China has launched a "brutal crackdown" in Tibet since protests shook the Himalayan region last year, the Dalai Lama said on Tuesday in transcripts of a speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising that sent him into exile. Tibetan culture and identity are "nearing extinction," he said, according to an advance copy released by his aides shortly before he was to begin speaking in this Indian hill town, where he and the Tibetan government-in-exile are based. "The Tibetan people are regarded like criminals, deserving to be put to death." "Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them," he said. While his comments were unusually strong for a man known for his deeply pacifist beliefs, he also urged that any change come peacefully.

"I have no doubt that the justice of Tibetan cause will prevail if we continue to tread a path of truth and nonviolence," he said. Last year, a peaceful commemoration of the 1959 uprising by monks in Lhasa, Tibet's regional capital, erupted into anti-Chinese rioting four days later and spread to surrounding provinces _ the most sustained and violent demonstrations by Tibetans in decades. This year, China has largely sealed off Tibet to the outside world.

Recent visitors to Lhasa have described armed police posted on rooftops. Local governments in Tibetan areas have ordered foreign tourists out, and foreign journalists have been detained and told to leave. Internet and text-messaging services, which helped spread word of last year's protests, have been unplugged in parts of the region.

Following the protests, China has stepped up its campaign to vilify the Dalai Lama, accusing him of leading a campaign to split the region from the rest of the country.

The Dalai Lama has denied the allegations, saying he is only seeking greater autonomy for the region to protect its unique Buddhist culture.