Dalai Lama offers to quit if Tibet violence spirals

March 18th, 2008 - 8:09 pm ICT by admin  


Dharamsala, March 18 (IANS) The Dalai Lama Tuesday said he was ready to step down as the Tibetan spiritual leader if unrest in his homeland where anti-China protests have claimed 13 lives spun out of control. “If things become out of control, then resignation is the only option,” the Dalai Lama told reporters in this hill town, the seat of his Tibetan government-in-exile that is not recognised by any country.

It was his second press conference since China ordered a vicious crackdown on anti-Beijing protests sweeping Tibet.

Denying China’s allegation that he was responsible for the violence, the Nobel Prize winner insisted that he was committed to non-violence. “The movement in Tibet is beyond our control,” he said.

He said he was not in a position to tell Tibetan protesters living under Chinese rule “to do this or not do that”.

The 73-year-old leader, who won the Nobel prize for peace in 1989, said the Chinese were free to come to Dharamsala and investigate his speeches to find out if he had a hand in the violence in Tibet.

Tibetan sources say the Dalai Lama may resign as the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile and not as the Dalai Lama, which gives him the spiritual authority over the six million Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama isn’t elected but is born as a reincarnation of previous Dalai Lama, according to Tibetan Buddhists.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959, had similarly threatened to resign in 1987 after a similar outburst of anti-China violence erupted in Tibet.

“I was asked by reporters in this very room and I said I would resign, even today my position is the same,” he said.

But officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile here downplayed his threat to resign, saying: “His holiness is committed to complete non-violence and is still urging protesters not to resort to violence.”

The Dalai’s Lama’s remarks came barely hours after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao accused him of inciting violence in Tibet.

The premier said the Dalai Lama’s allegations that “China was committing cultural genocide in Tibet are lies”.

Anti-China protests in Tibet began a week ago on the 49th anniversary of the uprising against Chinese rule. Security forces suppressed it violently after protesters, including monks, attacked government property in Lhasa.

There have been conflicting reports of the exact number of casualties in the ongoing crackdown. While Chinese authorities claim only 13 have died, the Tibetan government-in-exile puts the toll at nearly 80 killed.

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