March 18, 2008

Dalai Lama Says He’ll Resign if Violence Escalates

China has blamed the Dalai Lama for the violence in Tibet, and the Chinese response to the protests has stirred resentment among Tibetans in India. So we come to this:

DHARAMSALA, India — The Dalai Lama on Tuesday invited international observers, including Chinese officials, to scour his offices here and investigate whether he had any role in inciting the latest anti-Chinese violence in Tibet. He also threatened to resign as leader of Tibet’s government-in-exile in the event of spiraling bloodshed in his homeland.

He said he remained committed to only nonviolent agitation and greater autonomy for Tibetans, not independence. He condemned the burning of Chinese flags and attacks on Chinese property and called violence “suicidal” for the Tibetan cause.

In a clear effort to quickly seize the higher moral ground and at the same time poke at China’s important aspirations, he complimented Beijing for having met three out of four conditions to be a “superpower” — he acknowledged it has the world’s largest population, military prowess, and a fast-developing economy.

“Fourth, moral authority, that’s lacking,” he said, and for the second time in two days he accused Chinese officials of a “rule of terror” in Tibet, the formerly Himalayan kingdom he fled for exile in India 49 years ago.

The Dalai Lama’s remarks to reporters on Tuesday, here in the seat of the Tibetan exile movement, also revealed that he has been unnerved by the violence across the border in Tibet and by the increasingly radical calls from Tibetan exiles in this country.

The 72-year-old spiritual leader of Lama Buddhism said he would step down from his political post if things “get out of control.”

He said he planned to meet Wednesday with those who have vowed to march 900 miles from here to Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and convey his “reservations” about their effort. The march has been a source of embarrassment to New Delhi. The first batch of marchers that set off from here last week was arrested by Indian police; the second batch was allowed to continue, but they are still well inside Indian territory. The Dalai Lama chided their ambitions. “On border, some clash with Chinese soldiers, what use that?” he said.

He acknowledged there was growing frustration and a feeling that his “Middle Way” approach — no independence for Tibet but a large degree of autonomy — had achieved no concrete gains. But but dismissed talk of any other path as impractical.

“Last few days I had a sort of feeling, a tiger, of a young deer in a tiger’s hand,” he said, in the most intimate confession during the winding, two-hour long exchange. “Deer really can fight the tiger? Can express. But actual fight? Our only weapon, only strength is justice, truth. But effect of truth, justice sometimes takes longer time. Weapons power is immediately there.”

No sooner had he finished speaking that protesters outside the gate of his compound torched a Chinese flag, shouting “Hu Jintao Murdabad,” which in Hindi is literally “death to Hu Jintao,” the Chinese president. Two hours later, they burned more Chinese flags. Earlier, monks chanted prayers and walked in thick columns through the hills. Gory photographs were pasted across town, of Tibetans allegedly shot and killed by Chinese forces.

The Dalai Lama said he remained open to resuming peace talks with Chinese officials, and in an impish reference to the criticisms by Chinese leaders, said a solution could be reached swiftly if there were “mutual respect” and a willingness to take Tibetan grievances seriously.

There was no direct criticism of either Mr. Hu or China’s Premier Wen Jiabao, only of local officials whom the Dalai Lama accused of creating “artificial facts.” “Prime Minister,” he said, addressing Mr. Wen, “Come here and investigate thoroughly.”

He went on: “Since we are not seeking independence, actually we are helping the Chinese government to build harmonious society, happy society and Tibet remain within the People’s Republic of China, happily. I am helping them, if they look at the situation calmly. But so far it’s full of suspicion, so therefore they cannot see reality.”

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ben's picture

Both Buddhism and the Chinese Government could take some lessons learned between the Italian government and the Roman Catholic Church. Government must recognize that the Church bears cultural and spiritual influence over its citizens. Likewise, the Church must recognize that they are no match for the power of arms, as well as its organized bureaucracy of the state. It is in de facto a separation of Church and State. It also recognize the freedom of religion of the people. The responsibilities of temporal good of the people is then the primary burden of the State. That means when the people are hungry and in a state of disorder, they should put the responsibility on government. Failure of government means the right of the society to change that government.

The Treaty of Rome gives the Catholic church a territorial recognition by delineating the boundaries of the Vatican State. That also concludes that the Catholic Church also gives up its claims to the huge papal states in the rest of the Italian republic and see itself as a spiritual and cultural power, with the territory of Vatican state as a means to fulfill that role.

steven's picture