Dalai Lama criticised over fiery protests

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am


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The mainland's top official newspaper lambasted the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, yesterday for condoning a spate of selfimmolations by his followers to protest against Chinese rule, accusing religious figures close to him of leading them towards 'religious extremism'.

The commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily also accused the 'Dalai Lama separatist clique' of inciting unrest across Tibet, such as the riots in March 2008 which left at least 18 people dead. It charged that it has led followers towards 'religious extremism' - a 'cancer' that will grow to undermine state security and stability. It criticised the Dalai Lama for failing to call on Tibetans to refrain from selfimmolation and joining a fast last month in solidarity with those protesting by setting themselves alight.

'The Dalai Lama, who has always preached the non-violence principle, has said nothing to stop the selfimmolations in his capacity as a religious elder, but has ... given his support for these acts,' it said in what is seen as a response to the Dalai Lama and a senior monk blaming hardline Chinese policies for the protests.

At least 11 monks, nuns and laymen have set themselves on fire in the predominantly ethnic Tibetan area of Aba, in Sichuan, since March, Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche, the exiled chief abbot of the Kirti monastery, said last week. He said six died but stressed that he was unable to stop more people following suit.

The Dalai Lama last month said the desperate conditions Tibetans face under Beijing's iron-fisted rule were to blame, adding 'some kind of cultural genocide is taking place', Reuters reported. The foreign ministry said the Dalai Lama's refusal to condemn the acts was 'terrorism in disguise'. Tibetan government-in-exile spokesman Thubten Samphel rejected the accusations: 'There is no encouragement from our side for the Tibetan people to self-immolate.'