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10.03.2009

Tibetans’ lives ’hell on Earth’

   

The Dalai Lama has launched a fierce attack on Chinese rule in his Tibetan homeland, describing its people’s lives as "hell on Earth". Five decades of Chinese rule had caused "untold suffering", Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader said, accusing Beijing of creating a climate of fear. He also repeated his demand for Tibet’s "legitimate and meaningful autonomy".

His words came on the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese troops which led to his exile.

The BBC’s James Reynolds in Beijing says that the Dalai Lama’s words were different from his usual peaceful comments. This is perhaps a sign of the exasperation and frustration he must feel over China’s stance, our correspondent says. China says its troops freed Tibetans from effective slavery in a feudal society. It is planning to mark 28 March - the day in 1959 on which the Communist Party dissolved the existing local government in Tibet - as Serfs’ Emancipation Day. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu described the Dalai Lama’s statement as "lies". "The Dalai Lama clique is confusing right and wrong. They are spreading rumours. The democratic reforms [under Chinese rule] are the widest and most profound reforms in Tibetan history," he said, quoted by AFP news agency. On Monday, President Hu Jintao called for a "Great Wall" against Tibetan separatism.

’Expected sabotage’

Thousands of Chinese troops and paramilitary police are said to have been deployed in Tibetan-populated regions amid fears of fresh violence on the sensitive anniversary.

DALAI LAMA’S SPEECH
“ Today, the religion, culture, language and identity, which successive generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives, are nearing extinction - in short, the Tibetan people are regarded like criminals deserving to be put to death ”
Dalai Lama

Campaign groups have already reported some unrest in areas around Tibet. China does not allow foreign journalists unrestricted access to Tibet or restive areas surrounding it, making it extremely difficult to verify these reports. Beijing says it has tightened its border controls in preparation for "expected sabotage activities by the Dalai Lama clique". But there have been demonstrations around the Asia-Pacific region. Four people were arrested in clashes with police outside the Chinese embassy in the Australian capital Canberra but later released.

In Nepal about 100 Tibetan exiles were blocked by police outside Kathmandu, as the government imposed a ban on protests outside the Chinese embassy, AFP news agency reported.

’Mutual benefit’

The Dalai Lama said hundreds of thousands of Tibetans had been killed, and thousands of places of worship destroyed.

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