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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?"

No Tibet freedom without Communist Party: Panchen Lama

March 17, 2009

March 16, 2009

BEIJING (AFP) -- China's controversial choice as
the second highest Tibetan spiritual figure said
Sunday that Tibetans would never enjoy human
dignity and freedom without the Chinese Communist Party.

The Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu, on Sunday
visited an exhibition trumpeting the economic and
democratic progress brought by communist rule in
the 50 years since the end of feudalism in Tibet, state television reported.

The exhibition coincides with the 50th
anniversary of a failed uprising that led to the
exile of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's most revered spiritual figure.

Chinese authorities say the beginning of his
exile marked the end of serfdom in the mountainous region.

"Facts prove that without the Communist Party of
China, over a million serfs would never enjoy
human dignity and freedom," the report quoted the Panchen Lama as saying.

"People living in Tibet should cherish the
prosperity and happy lives today, it has not come easy."

His comments came as Tibetan regions in China
remained under tight security during the muted
first anniversary of anti-Chinese unrest that
Beijing says led to the deaths of 21 people and which it blames on rioters.

According to exile groups, 203 Tibetans were
killed -- mostly by Chinese troops -- during last
year's unrest, which began in Lhasa on March 14
before spreading to other areas of western China with Tibetan populations.

China's atheist government enthroned Gyaincain
Norbu as the Panchen Lama in 1995, rejecting
another boy selected by the exiled Dalai Lama in
a move that defied long-held Buddhist traditions.

The Dalai Lama's choice, six-year-old Gedhun
Choekyi Nyima, immediately disappeared from
public view and is believed to have been under a
form of house arrest ever since.

The alternate Panchen Lama is rarely seen in
public and is believed to be receiving his
education in Beijing under close scrutiny from the government.

In Tibetan Buddhist tradition the Dalai Lama and
the Panchen Lama have played alternating roles in
the religion's esoteric reincarnation rituals and
the education of each other's successors.

Exiled Tibetans have refused to accept the
authority of the alternate Panchen Lama and have
expressed fears that he will be used by the
government to select the next Dalai Lama.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951 after sending in
troops to "liberate" the region the previous year.
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