December 28, 2005

CORRECTED-Dalai Lama rejects Tibetan Buddhist praise of China

Corrects age in second paragraph

By Terry Friel

DHARAMSALA, India (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama said on
Wednesday the most senior Buddhist in Tibet had obviously
wanted to please Chinese authorities by praising Tibet for its
political stability and prosperity.

In an interview with Reuters, the 70-year-old Nobel
Laureate painted a very different picture of Tibet saying that
torture and human rights abuses were still the norm.

The Dalai Lama, the head of Tibetan Buddhism and its
political struggle, said he was saddened by reports monks had
been killed and tortured by Chinese authorities for refusing to
denounce him as a "separator" bent on damaging China.

"I had stressed if they have to denounce me then please
denounce me -- no problem," he said firmly in his palace
beneath snow-tipped Himalayan peaks in northern India.

"Their safety is more important. Just please denounce me,"
he said, wearing traditional Buddhist purple robes.

The Beijing-sanctioned 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi
Nyima, now 16 and who along with his parents is under China's
protection, said in a rare interview with China's Xinhua news
agency a few days ago that Tibet was open and happy.

"I've been to many places in the past decade and witnessed
the ample freedom enjoyed by individuals and religious
organisations alike. Living Budhhas like myself are able to
perform religious rituals under the wing of the Chinese
constitution and other laws," he said, according to Xinhua.

The Panchen Lama is the second most senior post in Tibet's
main Gelugpa Buddhist sect after the Dalai Lama.

Before the young boy was chosen, the Chinese government
removed another Panchen Lama who was chosen with the approval
of the Dalai Lama -- the exiled Tibet leader whom China calls a
traitorous separatist.

Many of Tibet's people remain secretly loyal to the Dalai
Lama's chosen Panchen Lama.

The young Panchen Lama's comments were rejected by the
Dalai Lama and exiled supporters of Tibetan autonomy. Some say
the teenager is a political prisoner.

"So, obviously the Panchen Lama has to speak what his
superiors want," said the Dalai Lama. "It is very difficult."


Analysts say the fact the young Panchen Lama was moved from
Beijing to a town in Tibet and was allowed to speak publicly
was a sign Beijing wants him to be heard more by Tibetans,
possibly as a counter to the Dalai Lama.

The 11th Panchen Lama has led a tightly controlled and
largely reclusive life since the Chinese government confirmed
him in that role in 1995.

The Dalai Lama, who has widespread support from world
leaders to Hollywood stars, says he faces increasing criticism
from his own people over his peaceful push for more autonomy
instead of fighting China for full independence.

"Criticism about my approach, not seeking separation, is
growing, increasing and my response to them is be patient. More
patience, more patience," he said. "Otherwise, we have nothing
to show them a positive result from our approach. So we find it
more and more difficult to answer them."

Tibetan politicians and activists in exile say their youths
are frustrated. Some want violence, remembering what they see
as the glory of Tibet's guerrilla war against China four
decades ago.

"Definitely we have a huge section of the Tibetan youth
community which believes that our movement is like any other
movement in this world," said Tibetan youth Congress president
Kalsang Phuntsok Gordukpa, 42.

"You know, there is no reason for us to restrain ourselves
just because we are Buddhist or just because we have a leader
of His Holiness's (the Dalai Lama's) stature.

"For Tibetans as such, violence is something we cannot
normally think of. But we have again a youth section which is
not so much influenced by the Buddhist philosophy. They are
very much attracted by the movements which are going on all
over the world -- mostly violence-infested movements and people
see they are achieving results.

"They look around everywhere, whether it's Israel or
Palestine or the Middle East -- these give them every reason to
believe in every (violent) movement that is being waged on this

Young Tibetans are also looking at the country's own
warrior past, exiles say.

Thupten Phelgye, a 50-year-old monk who spent five years
alone meditating on a mountain and who is now a member of the
parliament in exile, is concerned.

"If, in the future, something goes wrong, then we are not
responsible," he said. "We cannot guarantee this policy of the
(peaceful) middle way will be here forever."