Dalai Lama offers to quit if violence spins ‘out of control’

March 19th, 2008 - 12:08 am ICT by admin  

(Roundup)

New Delhi/Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), March 18 (IANS) Even as China continued its tirade against the Dalai Lama for masterminding the Lhasa riots, the Tibetan spiritual leader based in India Tuesday said he was ready to step down if the violence went “out of control”. Reports from Tibet indicate Lhasa city remained calm under blanket police cover, on the expiry Monday night of the Chinese security forces’ deadline for protestors to surrender.

In India, where the Dalai Lama has been living in exile after he fled Tibet in 1959, protests by Tibetans continued, many of them sitting on hunger strike in solidarity with the protestors in Tibet.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing pointed an accusing finger at the Dalai Lama, alleging he was the mastermind behind the riots and charging him with telling “lies” that China was committing cultural genocide in the remote mountainous region.

Denying China’s allegation, the Dalai Lama reiterated his commitment to non-violence. “The movement in Tibet is beyond our control,” he said in Dharamsala.

“If things go out of control, then resignation is the only option,” the Dalai Lama told reporters in the hill town, which is the seat of his Tibetan government-in-exile that is not recognised by any country.

The Dalai Lama 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 Peace Prize in 1989, said the Chinese were free to come to Dharamsala and investigate his speeches to find out if he had been inciting violence in Tibet.

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

With China escalating the rhetoric against the Dalai Lama, the likelihood of resumption of dialogue seems remote.

“As long as the Dalai Lama is willing to give up the so-called ‘Tibet independence’ and accept that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, our door is wide open,” Wen said. The Dalai Lama had reiterated that he was not for independence of Tibet but “maximum autonomy” for the region.

India has kept a close eye on the situation in Tibet, doing a fine balancing act of not offending China, even as it hosted thousands of Tibetan refugees on its soil.

After it forcibly stopped Tibetan refugees from marching onto China, India issued a statement reminding the exiled Tibetans settled here that as “guests” they should refrain from activities “that affect our relations with other friendly countries”.

India earlier said it was “distressed” at the violence in Lhasa and hoped the situation could be resolved through dialogue.

China appreciated India’s role in stopping Tibetan marchers from crossing the border to Lhasa, but also advised “Indian friends” not to believe “rumours” on the situation in Tibet “spread by the Dalai clique”.

There are indications from Beijing that China would like India to talk to the Dalai Lama into giving a statement to stop the rioting in Lhasa, even though the spiritual leader has reiterated he had no control over them.

Anti-China protests in Tibet began March 10 on the 49th anniversary of the uprising against the Chinese rule. Security forces suppressed the protests violently after some protesters, including monks, attacked government property in Lhasa.

There have been conflicting reports of the exact number of casualties after the protests took a violent turn Friday. While Chinese authorities claim only 13 have died, the Tibetan government-in-exile puts the toll at nearly 80 killed.

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