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Dalai Lama: growing support in China for Tibetans

August 6, 2009

The Associated Press (AP)
August 4, 2009

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The Dalai Lama said
Tuesday that an estimated 4,000 people who were
imprisoned during anti-Chinese riots in Tibet
last year remain in custody, and he called for an
international investigation of the violence.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said he
remains encouraged by the growing solidarity and
support Chinese people and intellectuals are
showing for the Tibetan cause. But he said the
situation in the region remains tense, despite
having calmed since last year's unrest and crackdown by the Chinese government.

The anti-Chinese riots erupted in Lhasa in March
2008 and spread across western China. In
response, Beijing poured troops into Tibetan
areas, kept foreign media and tourists out,
purged Buddhist monasteries at the center of
anti-government sentiment. China also intensified
its vilification campaign against the Dalai Lama,
accusing him of instigating the unrest.

"I'm appealing to the international community go
there and thoroughly investigate," the
74-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate said.

The Chinese government should refrain from using
force in dealing with Tibetans, the Dalai Lama
said. He also expressed dismay that Tibetans were
prohibited from using their own language.

But he said there is increasing awareness in
China about the discrimination Tibetans are
suffering and the region's need for autonomy.
Even Chinese government officials were breaking
from Beijing's hardline position, he claimed.

"Many Chinese are showing solidarity with us,"
the Dalai Lama said in a hockey arena in
Lausanne, where he was giving two days of public
teachings on Buddhism to up to 6,000 spectators.
"Among the Chinese officials, also a number of
officials (are) privately showing their concern, their solidarity."

The Dalai Lama enjoys moral authority in much of
the world and has been the leading voice of a
nonviolent campaign by Tibetans to seek autonomy
from China. Tibet has unsteadily weathered nearly
six decades of Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama has
been living in exile in India since 1959 and is
feared by China, which has called him as a "wolf
in monk's robes" who seeks to split Tibet from the rest of China.

Beijing claims Tibet has always been part of its
territory, but many Tibetans say the Himalayan
region was virtually independent for centuries
until Chinese troops invaded in 1950.

The Dalai Lama has sought autonomy for Tibetans,
and not independence. He said autonomy seems
"hopeless" at the moment, but that he remains
"very hopeful" of achieving his goal in the long
term, citing over 600 articles he said were
published last year by Chinese people in support
of the Tibetan cause. He said the number includes
articles published on the Internet.
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