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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?"

Dalai Lama institution to continue only if it needed

November 29, 2007

Source: AP ©
URL: -0
Tibetan people will decide whether a new system of leadership is needed
for the Himalayan people before Dalai Lama dies, he said Tuesday.

Just what form the referendum will take was not immediately clear, but
he proposed what could be a major change in the centuries-old system to
choose the spiritual and political head of the Tibetans.

"If people feel that the institution of the Dalai Lama is still
necessary, it will continue," he told reporters during a gathering of
religious leaders from around the world in this northern Indian city.

"When my physical condition becomes weak, and there are serious
preparations for death, then this event should happen," said the
72-year-old winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, referring to the

The Dalai Lama gave no timeframe for the vote, adding that "according to
my regular medical checkup I am good for another few decades."

The Dalai Lama said the vote would be held among all traditional Tibetan
Buddhists along the Himalayan range, including China, Nepal and India
and into Mongolia.

China, which has ruled Tibet with a heavy hand since its Communist-led
forces invaded in 1951, immediately condemned the proposal.

"The Dalai Lama's statement is in blatant violation of religious
practice and historical procedure," the Foreign Ministry said in a
statement faxed to The Associated Press.

For centuries, the search for the reincarnation of religious leaders,
known as lamas - including the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual head - has
been carried out by Tibetan monks following the leaders' deaths.

Tibetans fear China will control the search for a successor once the
Dalai Lama dies, further eroding the Himalayan region's unique Buddhist

Those concerns were heightened in August when Beijing moved to tighten
its grip over Tibetan Buddhism by asserting the officially atheistic
communist government's sole right to recognize Buddhist reincarnations
of the lamas that form the backbone of the religion's clergy.

The Tibetan leadership in exile has begun exploring several possible
ways to prevent this.

First a referendum would be held to decide if Tibetan Buddhists want to
continue with the Dalai Lama system.

If they did, the Dalai Lama said he would either be reincarnated after
his death outside China or he would choose a new Dalai Lama before he died.

"The very purpose of reincarnation is to carry out the tasks of the
previous life that are not yet achieved," The Dalai Lama said. "If I die
while we are still refugees, my reincarnation, logically, will come
outside Tibet, who will carry out the work I started."

The Tibetan spiritual leader also raised the possibility of naming a new
Dalai Lama while he was still alive.

The Dalai Lama, who had proposed this during an interview in Japan last
week, fended off criticism that this would be a break with Buddhist
tradition, saying there was a precedent of one incarnation being named
while the other was still alive.

The Dalai Lama said one of his teachers, the Lama Trogye Trichen, was
recognized as a reincarnated Lama while his predecessor was still alive.

However, the Dalai Lama, acknowledged that the Tibetan exile leadership
had not yet decided exactly what course to follow.

"Serious detailed discussions have not yet started," he said.

The Dalai Lama, who has worked to make the Tibetan exile leadership more
democratic, acknowledged his death would be difficult for many Tibetans.

"If I die today there will be some setback to the Tibetan struggle," he
said "But the Tibetan spirit will not go away with my death."

The Dalai Lama reiterated that he wants "real autonomy" for Tibet, not
independence. He has lived with followers in exile in India since
fleeing Chinese soldiers in 1959.
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