Dalai Lama warns of ‘cultural genocide’ in Tibet

May 23rd, 2008 - 2:55 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
London, May 23 (DPA) The Dalai Lama Thursday called for international observers to be allowed to monitor China’s actions in Tibet and warned that the Tibetans were facing a form of “cultural genocide”. Speaking on the eve of a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London, the Tibetan spiritual leader urged western nations to do more to support his people in their “human rights struggle”.

Touching on the controversy that has surrounded his meeting with Brown Friday, the Dalai Lama said it did not matter to him that the British leader was not receiving him at Downing Street, the seat of government.

“For me - no differences. So long as meeting and talk, to presidents, to prime ministers, or to beggars. I always meet on the level we are human beings,” said the Dalai Lama.

Brown is the first major world leader to meet the Dalai Lama since the recent unrest in Tibet, but in a clear attempt to avoid diplomatic upsets with Beijing, he will receive the religious leader at Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Dalai Lama Thursday had talks with Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, who is known to be a supporter and admirer of the Buddhist cleric.

The two men, who have met on three previous occasions, planted a magnolia tree in the garden of Clarence House, the London residence of Prince Charles, to commemorate this year’s visit.

Earlier, several hundred supporters of the Western Shugden Society, whose members claim that the Dalai Lama represses their religious rights, held a protest at a venue where he was giving a lecture.

Chinese policies guaranteeing basic freedoms for Tibetans looked “very nice on paper,” but international observers should be allowed to check whether they were being put into practice, the Dalai Lama said Thursday.

In a question-and-answer session with members of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, the exiled Tibetan leader said plainly that Britain, and other countries, were “not doing enough” to help the Tibetans.

He acknowledged, however, that there were “limitations” as to what Britain - as well as the European Union and the US - could achieve vis-a-vis China over the Tibet issue.

In a BBC interview earlier, the Dalai Lama said he was “quite optimistic” about the future because he believed that change in China could lead to a “more transparent” attitude over Tibet.

China’s response to the Sichuan earthquake was a sign of change, he said.

“This I think (is) one sign that the People’s Republic of China is changing, I think at least decade by decade. Hopefully now (this will) lead to a more transparent attitude in other fields, including the Tibet case.”

The Dalai Lama, who is on a 10-day visit to Britain, repeated the view that he wished to a see a “middle way” of autonomy for Tibet, rather than full independence.

“We are not seeking separation,” he said, adding that it was in the interests of both China and Tibet to stay together.

“Tibetan Buddhist culture can be a great contribution to enrich (the) cultural heritage of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.

“Sooner or later we’ll have to talk with China’s government so the question of independence or separation is out of the question.”

While defence and foreign affairs should be governed by the central government, the “the rest of the business,” such as education, environment and religious work, should be handled by Tibetans themselves, said the Dalai Lama.

“That is real, meaningful autonomy.”

However, he warned of growing frustration if there was “no improvement” in Tibet.

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