Accusing China of creating "hell on earth" in Tibet [Images] by launching a "brutal crackdown," Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama [Images] on Tuesday demanded "legitimate and meaningful" autonomy for the Himalayan plateau.
In a speech marking the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising that led him into exile, he said that Beijing [Images] had brought "untold suffering and destruction" to that region by unleashing repressive campaigns. "And quite apart from the current process of Sino- Tibetan dialogue having achieved no concrete result, there has been brutal crackdown on the Tibetan protests that shook the whole of Tibet since March last year," the 73-year-old monk said addressing a gathering in Dharamsala.
The Chinese campaigns "thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on earth," he said while noting that these had taken the lives of "hundreds of thousands" of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama, who has been advocating the "middle path" approach, said, "We Tibetans are looking of legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People's Republic of China". Groups of Tibetans took to streets here shouting slogans like "China out" and "Tibet belongs to Tibetans" after his speech.
The Dalai Lama said, "Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them". The Tibetan culture and identity, he said, were "nearing extinction". He denied Beijing's charge that he wanted independence of Tibet and said he stood for greater autonomy and end to repression. Lending out hope, the monk said, "I have no doubt that the justice for Tibetan cause will prevail if we continue to tread a path of truth and non-violence".
In a statement on the occasion, the Tibetan government in-exile here said, "If China is sincere about resolving the Tibetan issue, they must take it up in the ongoing meetings of the Chinese Peoples Congress and the Political Consultative Conference to discuss and decide on ways to fulfill the aspiration of the Tibetan people." Blaming the Chinese authorities for not resolving the long-pending Tibetan issue, it asked Tibetans to continue with non-violent agitation. "Instead of initiating reforms for the benefit of Tibetans and building a harmonious society based on Hu Jintao's mantra of scientific approach of development through harmony, stability and unity of different nationalists, China is pursuing policies designed to humiliate and oppress the Tibetans," it said. This would further alienate the Tibetans and will in no way contribute to a harmonious society, the statement said.
It said, "another important aspect is to abide by the Tibetan new year message of the Dalai Lama to ensure that our actions do not breed mistrust and antagonism between the people of Tibet and China". The Tibetan government in-exile, whose headquarters is located at Mcleodganj, about 20 km from Dharamsala in Kangra district, also criticised the so called 'White Paper' entitled "50 years of Democratic Reforms in Tibet published on March 2 this year.
"The White Paper is far from the truth and is yet another attempt to mislead the international community,+ the statement said. It said, "According to the verified information we have collected since March 10, 2008, a minimum 219 Tibetans have been confirmed killed, 6705 arrested, 1294 injured, 286 given harsh sentences for varied terms and many others have been reported missing". The statement further said, "This year fearing possibility of extensive protests , the Chinese government has increased the deployment of armed troops in all the three provinces of Tibet".