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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

A death sentence for Tibet

November 4, 2008

The 73 year-old Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhists, suggested 
that he might retire while expressing dissatisfaction with the 
intransigence of China with regard to human rights for Tibet.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
By Martin Barillas

The exiled religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, said 
on November 2 that Chinese rule in his country is handing down a 
"death sentence" to Tibetans. In Japan for a meeting on how to 
approach China in the future, the exiled religious leader said 
"Tibetans are being handed down a death sentence. This ancient nation, 
with an ancient cultural heritage is dying." The 73 year-old, who left 
Tibet in the 1950s while persecuted by Maoist China, he added "Today, 
the situation is almost like a military occupation in the entire 
Tibetan area" and added "It is like we're under martial law. Fear, 
terror and lots of political education are causing a lot of grievance."

Revered in Tibet and worldwide for his commitment to human rights, the 
saffron-robed Buddhist monk suggested that he might diminish his role 
in negotiating with the intransigent Chinese, "I don't think I will 
completely retire, but for the time being while dealing with the 
Chinese central government, I can no longer take full direct 
responsibility. My position is completely neutral," he said. "Because 
we believe in democratic principles, the people should express their 
real feelings. I should not be hindering their opinions." Just a few 
days ago, the Dalai Lama appeared to signal that he has lost hope of 
effecting a change in China's stance on Tibet, which it has occupied 
since an invasion in the mid-1950s.

A peripatetic exile since 1959 who has resided in India, the Dalai 
Lama enjoys a wide following in Japan where his scheduled to give a 
series of speeches arranged by Japanese Buddhists and Tibetan 
supporters. China continues to accuse him of trying to split Tibet 
away even while it has launched a program of bring Chinese settlers to 
the mountain country.

A spokesman for the US State Department said on October 30 that the 
United States wishes to "encourage China to examine policies that have 
created tensions due to their effect on Tibetan culture, religion and 
livelihoods," while also freeing up access in Tibet for journalists, 
diplomats and other international observers. Two representatives of 
the Dalai Lama left for Beijing on October 31 in advance of a 
conference planned for November by the Dalai Lama to bring together 
Tibetan Buddhists to discuss the future of their homeland. The Dalai 
Lama's envoys left just days after their leader that he has lost hope 
of effecting a change in China's stance on Tibet, which it has 
occupied since the invasion in the mid-1950s.

Martin Barillas is a former US Diplomat.
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