It takes a lot to make the Dalai Lama mad. He’s humble, a “simple monk,” he’d rather bow and smile than puff up and pontifcate…he’s played ball with the Chinese, who took over Tibet in 1959, for 50 years now to no avail. Finally, the maroon robes have stetched, and torn, the peaceful eyes dilated…this elderly monk will take it lying down no longer…he’s getting mad, get away…ARRRRGHHHE!@#$%^&*T&@%*&@%#!!!?^ARHHHHAHHH stand—back—it’s…the Incredible Dalai Lama!
Tellin’ it like it is, at long last:
The Dalai Lama delivered on Tuesday one of his harshest attacks on the Chinese government in recent times, saying that the Chinese Communist Party had transformed Tibet into a “hell on earth” and that the Chinese authorities regard Tibetans as “criminals deserving to be put to death.”
“Today, the religion, culture, language and identity, which successive generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives, are nearing extinction,” said the Dalai Lama, 73, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans.
Those words came during a blistering speech made Tuesday morning in Dharamsala, India, the Himalayan hill town that is the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Tibetans outside of China and their supporters held rallies around the world on Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. The Chinese military crushed the rebellion, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee across the Himalayas to India.
The furious tone of the Dalai Lama’s speech may have been in reaction to a new clampdown by China on the Tibetan regions. The Dalai Lama might also have adopted an angry approach to placate younger Tibetans who have accused the Dalai Lama of being too conciliatory toward China. The Dalai Lama advocates genuine autonomy for Tibet and not secession, while more radical Tibetans are urging the Dalai Lama to support outright independence.
In the rugged Tibetan regions of China, where there is widespread resentment at Chinese rule, no reports emerged on Tuesday of any large-scale protests. The Chinese government, fearing civil unrest among six million Tibetans, has locked down the vast area, which measures up to a quarter of China, by sending in thousands of troops in the last few weeks and cutting off cell phone and Internet services in some locations. An unofficial state of martial law now exists, with soldiers and police officers operating checkpoints, marching through streets and checking people for identification cards.
Chinese President Hu Jintao called this week for the building of a “Great Wall” of stability in Tibet.
“We must reinforce the solid Great Wall for combating separatism and safeguarding national unity, so that Tibet, now basically stable, will enjoy lasting peace and stability,” Mr. Hu said while meeting with Tibetan officials in Beijing on Monday, according to Xinhua, the state news agency.
Across Tibet, monks at large monasteries have been ordered to stay indoors. In the town of Tongren in Qinghai Province, monks at the sprawling Rongwo Monastery, where protests erupted last year, have been told they cannot leave the compound from March 6 to March 16, according to two monks reached by telephone. No classes or prayer gatherings were held on Tuesday. One monk said he and his peers were reading Buddhist scriptures in their bedrooms.
“This morning, I cried,” he said.
The monk declined to give his name for fear of government retribution. A year ago this month, he was studying in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and taking part in protests to mark the 49th anniversary of the failed uprising. When security forces suppressed those protests, Tibetans began rioting in the streets, attacking ethnic Han Chinese civilians and burning shops and vehicles.
The uprising quickly spread to Tibetan areas in other provinces, becoming the largest rebellion against Chinese rule in decades. At least 19 people were killed in Lhasa, most of them Han Chinese civilians, according to the Chinese government. In the violent repression that followed, 220 Tibetans were killed, nearly 1,300 were injured and nearly 7,000 were detained or imprisoned, according to the Tibetan government-in-exile. More than 1,000 Tibetans are still missing.
“There has been a brutal crackdown on the Tibetan protests that have shaken the whole of Tibet since last March,” the Dalai Lama said in his speech.
In a report released Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said that a careful study of official Chinese accounts of last year’s uprising and its aftermath showed that “there have been thousands of arbitrary arrests, and more than 100 trials pushed through the judicial system.” The government’s official figures on arrests and prosecutions suggest that several hundred suspected protestors remain in custody, Human Rights Watch said.
Officials from Lhasa said last week that 953 people were detained after the riots and that 76 of them were sentenced on charges of robbery, arson and attacking government institutions. The others have been all been released, the officials said.