BEIJING: The Dalai Lama on Tuesday delivered one of his harshest attacks in recent times on the Chinese government, saying that the Chinese Communist Party had transformed Tibet into a “hell on earth” and that the Chinese authorities regarded Tibetans as “criminals deserving to be put to death.”
“Today, the religion, culture, language and identity, which successive generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives, are nearing extinction,” the 73-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader said.
Those words came during a blistering speech Tuesday morning in Dharamsala, India, the Himalayan hill town that is the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Tibetans outside of China and their supporters held rallies around the world Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. The Chinese military crushed the rebellion, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee across the Himalayas to India.
The furious tone of the Dalai Lama’s speech may have been in reaction to a new clampdown by China throughout the Tibetan regions. The Dalai Lama might also have adopted an angry approach to placate younger Tibetans who have accused the Dalai Lama of being too conciliatory toward China. The Dalai Lama has advocated greater autonomy for Tibet and not secession, while more radical Tibetans are urging the Dalai Lama to support outright independence.
In the rugged Tibetan regions of China, where there is widespread resentment at Chinese rule, no reports emerged Tuesday of any large-scale protests. The Chinese government, fearing civil unrest among six million Tibetans, has locked down the vast area, which encompasses up to a quarter of China, by sending in thousands of troops over the last few weeks and cutting off cellphone and Internet services in some locations. An unofficial state of martial law now exists, with soldiers and police officers operating checkpoints, marching through streets and checking people for identification cards.
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