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'Dalai Lama is taking Olympics hostage'

world Updated: Mar 23, 2008 12:51 IST
Chris Buckley
Chris Buckley
Reuters
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China has accused the Dalai Lama of planning bloodshed in Tibet and colluding with Uighur terrorists in Xinjiang as it pushes a security and propaganda drive to stifle anti-Chinese unrest in its remote west.

Anti-government protests by Buddhist monks erupted in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, from March 10 and five days later anti-Chinese rioting shook the city, killing a policeman and 18 innocent civilians, burnt or hacked to death, authorities have said.

Protests then flared in nearby provinces with large ethnic Tibetan populations, leaving at least several more people dead.

Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, has criticised the violence and said he wants talks with China to negotiate autonomy, but not outright independence, for his homeland, which was occupied by Chinese troops from 1950.

But as Beijing extinguishes unrest in Tibetan areas by pouring in troops, it is also intensifying a propaganda campaign to tell its citizens and the rest of the world that the Dalai Lama, not failings in government policy, is to blame.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, said on Sunday that the Dalai -- winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize -- had never abandoned violence since fleeing China in 1959, after a failed revolt against Beijing.

"This incident again demonstrates that the so-called 'peaceful non-violence' of the Dalai clique is an outright lie from start to end," the paper stated.

"In 2008, the Beijing Olympic Games, eagerly awaited by the people of the whole world, will arrive. But the Dalai Lama is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage to force the Chinese government to make concessions to Tibet independence."

The paper earlier also accused the Dalai Lama of planning terrorist attacks with the aid of Uighur separatists seeking an independent East Turkestan for their largely Muslim people in northwest China's Xinjiang region.

"The Dalai clique has also strengthened collusion with 'East Turkestan' terror organisations, and planned terror activities in Tibet in a bid to turn the attention of the international community towards Tibet," the paper said on Saturday.

China's efforts to denounce the Dalai Lama has drawn applause from many Han Chinese citizens, who have said Western critics fail to appreciate their government's efforts to develop Tibet and have treated the violence in Lhasa as legitimate protest.

But the campaign has begun to draw some domestic critics.

On Saturday, a group of 29 Chinese dissidents urged Beijing to end the bitter propaganda, allow United Nations investigators into Tibet, and open direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

"In our opinion, Cultural Revolution-style language...is of not help in easing the situation," they wrote in a petition issued on the Internet, referring to the lurid language used against foes during Mao Zedong's era.

They said Tibetan anti-Chinese protests in the 1980s were limited to Lhasa, but this time had spread to provinces near Tibet.

"This deterioration indicates that there are serious mistakes in the work that has been done with regard to Tibet," they wrote.

While troops have choked off much travel in Tibetan areas and blocked access by foreign reporters, officials have also said they are guarding against unrest in Xinjiang.

A senior Chinese official said recently that extremist Uighurs -- a Turkic people who share cultural bonds with central Asia -- were plotting attacks on the Beijing Olympics.

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