quarta-feira, março 19, 2008

Umbigo / Bellybutton

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The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, (Official site).

Tenzin Gyatso (born Llhamo Döndrub, 6 July 1935 in Tibet), 14th Dalai Lama, Wikipedia.

Thanks for the cartoon Gord.

Everest is the highest point, so is Buddhism in some ways, Tibet then is the world's bellybutton / umbigo ... could be eh? ... the navel of the earth ... and then they took out the golden screw and the arse fell off! (in a manner of speaking)

I have been clipping the following for a few days ...

March 14 - Monk Protests in Tibet Draw Chinese Security, NYT.
March 14 - Protests turn violent in Tibet, Globe.
March 16 - Lhasa lockdown, Globe.
March 16 - Tibetan protests spread to Chinese provinces, Globe.
March 17 - Tibet protester deadline passes, BBC.
March 17 - Tibet -- China's Gaza Strip / Pressure for an Olympic Boycott, Spiegel.
March 18 - PRESS RELEASE - Dalai Lama.
March 18 - Dalai Lama says he'll quit if violence grows, Globe.
March 19 - Protesters 'surrender in Tibet', BBC.
March 21 - The Dalai Lama's Moment of Truth, Spiegel, 21 March 2008.



I am deeply concerned over the situation that has been developing in Tibet following peaceful protests in many parts of Tibet, including Lhasa, in recent days. These protests are a manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people under the present governance.

As I have always said, unity and stability under brute force is at best a temporary solution. It is unrealistic to expect unity and stability under such a rule and would therefore not be conducive to finding a peaceful and lasting solution.

I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence.


Monk Protests in Tibet Draw Chinese Security, Jim Yardley, March 14, 2008, NYT.

BEIJING — Chinese security forces were reportedly surrounding three monasteries outside Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, on Thursday after hundreds of monks took to the streets this week in what are believed to be the largest Tibetan protests against Chinese rule in two decades.

The turmoil in Lhasa occurred at a politically delicate time for China, which is facing increasing criticism over its human rights record as it prepares to play host to the Olympic Games in August and is seeking to appear harmonious to the outside world.

Beijing has kept a tight lid on dissent before the Games. But people with grievances against the governing Communist Party have tried to promote their causes when top officials may be wary of cracking down by using force.

Qin Gang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, confirmed Thursday that protests had erupted in Lhasa, but declined to provide details. He described the situation as stable.

“In the past couple of days, a few monks in Lhasa have made some disturbances in an effort to cause unrest,” Mr. Qin said Thursday at a news conference. “Thanks to the efforts of the local government and the democratic administration of the temples, the situation in Lhasa has been stabilized.”

Tibet was taken militarily by China in 1951 and has remained contentious, particularly because of the bitter relations between the Communist Party and the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Sporadic talks between China and the Dalai Lama’s representatives have produced no results, and Beijing continues to condemn him as a “splitist” determined to sever the region’s ties to China. The Dalai Lama has said that he accepts Chinese rule but that Tibetans need greater autonomy to practice their religion.

China plans to have the Olympic torch carried into Tibet over Mount Everest — a route that has brought protests from many Tibet advocacy groups. Fearing more demonstrations, officials said they would prohibit climbing on the north face of Everest until after the torch ceremony.

The defiance reported this week in Lhasa is highly unusual. Security is heavy there, and the penalty for protesting is harsh. News of the protests has been censored in the Chinese news media, and Beijing does not allow foreign journalists to travel to Lhasa without permission. But accounts from Tibetan advocacy groups, from the United States-financed Radio Free Asia and from tourists’ postings on the Internet suggest that protests emerged from three of the most famous monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism.

Robert Barnett, a Tibet specialist at Columbia University who has communicated with Tibetan exiles, said the initial incident occurred Monday when about 400 monks left Drepung Loseling Monastery intending to march five miles west to the city center. Police officers stopped the march at the halfway point and arrested 50 or 60 monks.

But Mr. Barnett said the remaining monks held the equivalent of a sit-down strike and were joined by an additional 100 monks from Drepung.

“They were demanding specific changes on religious restrictions in the monastery,” Mr. Barnett said. He said monks wanted the authorities to ease rules on “patriotic education” in which monks are required to study government propaganda and write denunciations of the Dalai Lama.

On Tuesday morning, the Drepung monks apparently agreed to return to the monastery.

But another protest was under way in the heart of the city, outside the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred temple in Tibet. About a dozen monks from the Sera Monastery staged a pro-independence demonstration, waving a Tibetan flag. Police officers arrested the monks. Foreign tourists posted video on the Internet of officers shooing onlookers away.

The arrests set off another protest on Tuesday. Witnesses told Radio Free Asia that 500 or 600 monks poured out of the Sera Monastery, about two miles north of the Jokhang Temple. They shouted slogans and demanded the release of their fellow monks.

“Free our people, or we won’t go back!” the monks chanted, Radio Free Asia reported. “We want an independent Tibet!”

Witnesses said the police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

A protest was reported on Wednesday at the Ganden Monastery, 35 miles east of Lhasa.

Radio Free Asia reported Thursday that two monks at Drepung had attempted suicide.

The protests were timed to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibet uprising that forced the Dalai Lama to flee to India. Mr. Barnett said they were the largest in Lhasa since 1989, when protests by monks from Drepung and Sera led to a bloody clash with Chinese security forces.

He said he doubted that the protests were coordinated, though he said the small group of Sera monks arrested Monday must have anticipated a confrontation. Their photographs have already been forwarded to Tibetan exiles in India and posted on the Internet by groups that support independence for Tibet.

He said that Chinese troops seemed to be more restrained than in the past, even as the protesters took the bold step of waving the Tibetan flag.

The Olympics also have emboldened protesters outside China. Tibetan exiles in northern India who vowed this week to march to Lhasa over six months to protest China’s control of their homeland were arrested Thursday. They then began a hunger strike that they said would go on until they were released.

Heather Timmons contributed reporting from New Delhi.


Protests turn violent in Tibet, Tini Tran, March 14, 2008, Globe.

BEIJING — Angry protesters set shops and police vehicles on fire in the Tibetan regional capital of Lhasa on Friday, state media and witnesses said, part of ongoing demonstrations against China's 57-year rule by Buddhist monks ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing, meanwhile, issued an advisory to Americans, warning them to stay away from Lhasa, saying it had “received firsthand reports from American citizens in the city who report gunfire and other indications of violence.”

The protests are the largest in 19 years in the ancient mountain kingdom by Tibetans seeking the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Several shops were burning in Lhasa, Tibet's largest city, and owners of nearby businesses have shut their doors, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Monks set fire to a shop after a protest near a small temple in Lhasa was stopped by police, said a Tibetan woman who has family in the city.

More than 100 people joined in demonstrations that began earlier in the day, said the woman, who didn't want to be identified.

“The monks are still protesting. Police and army cars were burned. There are people crying,” said the witness. “Hundreds of people, including monks and civilians are in the protest.”

Another Lhasa resident said military police had closed all roads leading to the city centre.

“The situation is quite serious. There's a curfew in the city and I can see military police block all the roads to the centre of the city. Nearly all the stores and shops are closed,” said the man, who also asked to be unnamed.

The violence was the latest in a series of protests inside and outside Tibet that have put an unwelcome spotlight on China's policies in Tibet in the lead-up to this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. Tibetan exiles have also held high-profile protests in northern India.

Tensions in the Tibetan capital have increased in recent days as the city's three biggest monasteries were sealed off by thousands of soldiers and armed police in a government crackdown against the largest protests in nearly two decades, the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia reported Friday.

Monks at the major Sera Monastery launched a hunger strike Thursday to demand that armed police withdraw from the monastery grounds and detained monks be released, RFA reported.

At the Drepung Monastery, two Buddhist monks are in critical condition after attempting to commit suicide by slashing their wrists, RFA said, citing authoritative sources.

Tourists have been warned away from all the monasteries, said one tourist staying at a Lhasa hotel.

“The Red Army is downtown. It's not safe to walk around. All the major monasteries are closed,” said the tourist, who refused to give her name or her nationality. “Tourists don't feel comfortable walking around because police are all over.”

Officials who answered phones at police and Communist Party offices in Tibet on Friday said they had no information about the violence and refused to comment.

It is extremely difficult to get independent verification of events in Tibet since China maintains rigid control over the area. Foreigners need special travel permits, and journalists are rarely granted access except under highly controlled circumstances.

Large-scale demonstrations that began Monday have spread to a third monastery, Ganden, in the Lhasa area, as well as the Reting monastery north of the city, according to RFA and the London-based International Campaign for Tibet.

The ICT said monks from the Ganden monastery mounted protests Thursday, becoming the last of the three historically important monasteries known as the “Three Pillars of Tibet” to join in the demonstrations.

Beijing maintains that Tibet is historically a part of China. But many Tibetans argue the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries and accuse China of trying to crush Tibetan culture by swamping it with Han people, the majority Chinese ethnic group.

The protests by the Buddhist monks began Monday, the anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Beijing rule.

In northern India, organizers say more than 100 Tibetan exiles began a two-week detention after police arrested them during a march to their homeland to protest China's hosting of the Olympic Games.

March co-ordinator Tenzin Palkyi said Friday the exiles were being kept in detention in a state-run hotel while authorities investigate the charges of threatening the “peace and tranquillity” of the region.

Chinese Communist troops occupied Tibet in 1951 and Beijing continues to rule the region with a heavy hand. Beijing enforces strict controls on religious institutions and routinely vilifies the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 amid an aborted uprising against Chinese rule and won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

China says it has ruled Tibet for centuries, although many Tibetans say their homeland was essentially an independent state for most of that time.


Lhasa lockdown, Benjamin King & Chris Buckley, March 16, 2008, Globe.

DHARAMSALA, India — The Dalai Lama called on Sunday for an investigation into China's tough response to protests in Tibet, and whether it was deliberate "cultural genocide."

The comments from Tibet's spiritual leader came as police and troops locked down Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, two days after street protests against Chinese rule that the region's government-in-exile said had killed 80 people.

"Whether the Chinese government admits or not, there is a problem. The problem is the nation with ancient cultural heritage is actually facing serious dangers," he told a news conference at his base of Dharamsala in northern India.

"Whether intentionally or unintentionally, somewhere cultural genocide is taking place", he said, adding that he wanted an investigation into the clashes.

The Dalai Lama, saying he felt "helpless," added that the international community had the "moral responsibility" to remind China to be a good host for the Olympic Games. He added that China should host the Games.

"So now we really need miracle power," he told a conference often interspersed with laughter from the exiled Tibetan leader.

There was no immediate comment from China's foreign ministry to his statements.

Monks first took to the streets of Tibet last Monday to mark the 49th anniversary of an earlier uprising, and protests soon spread to adjoining regions inhabited by pockets of Tibetans.

"They've gone crazy," said a police officer Sunday in Aba county, Sichuan, one of four provinces with large Tibetan populations, her voice trembling down the telephone as the main government building there came under siege.

The officer, who declined to be named, said a crowd of Tibetans hurled petrol bombs, burning down a police station and a market, and torching two police cars and a fire truck. Security forces fired tear gas and arrested five people.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said on Web site that at least seven people had been shot dead in the protests. A police officer, reached by telephone, denied this.

Meanwhile, anti-riot troops locked down Lhasa – a remote city high in the Himalayas barred to foreign journalists without permission and now sealed off to tourists – to prevent a repeat of Friday's violence, the most serious in nearly two decades.

A businessman there, reached by telephone, said a tense calm had descended on the city and most people were staying indoors.

The spasm of Tibetan anger at the Chinese presence in the region came after days of peaceful protests by monks and dealt a sharp blow to Beijing's preparations for the Olympic Games in August, when China wants to showcase prosperity and unity.

The government-in-exile in Dharamsala said 80 people had died in the clashes between the authorities and protesters last week, and 72 had been injured.

The official Xinhua news agency said only that 10 "innocent civilians" had died, mostly in fires lit by rioters, and that 12 policemen had been seriously injured.

Tibet is one of several potential flashpoints for the ruling Communist Party at a time of heightened attention on China.

The government is concerned about the effect of inflation and wealth gaps on social stability after years of breakneck economic growth, and this month it said it had foiled two plots by Uighur militants in the large Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang, including an attempt to disrupt the Olympics.

Kang Xiaoguang, a political scientist at the People's University of China who has long studied social stability, said there was very little chance of the Tibetan protests sparking a chain reaction in broader China.

"I think the chances are minimal," he said of the possibility of copycat protests. "This is a localized problem. In the Han Chinese regions there's virtually zero sympathy for the Tibetan rioters, and so virtually zero chance that this will spread."

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in an e-mail that monks of the Amdo Ngaba Kirti monastery, also in Sichuan's Aba prefecture, had raised the banned Tibetan flag and shouted pro-independence slogans after prayers on Sunday morning.

Chinese security forces stormed the monastery, fired tear gas and prevented the monks from taking to the streets, it said.

The report could not be independently confirmed.

Xinhua said many shops had reopened in Lhasa and cars were back on the streets as calm returned to the city.

But a businessman, reached by telephone, told Reuters: "It's dead silent. There are a few kids and people beginning to walk around, but mostly people are staying inside."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a statement, urged Beijing to "release monks and others who have been detained solely for the peaceful expression of their views".

The Dalai Lama, who says he only wants greater autonomy for his people, said China deserved to host the Olympics but the international community had a "moral responsibility" to remind China to be a good host for the Aug. 8-24 Games.

Monks first took to the streets of Tibet last Monday to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising, and protests soon spread to adjoining regions inhabited by pockets of Tibetans.

In Lhasa on Friday, protesters, some in monks' robes and some yelling independence slogans, torched vehicles, attacked banks and offices and used stones and knives against police.

Security officials, speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of China's session of parliament in Beijing, defended the Tibet crackdown on protesters and said there was no cause for alarm.

"Having some problems crop up is nothing to make a big deal out of. We just need to deal with them in an appropriate manner," said senior army General Zhang Wentai. "It won't affect the Olympics, or the country's overall security."


Tibetan protests spread to Chinese provinces, Geoffrey York, March 16, 2008, Globe.

BEIJING — Hundreds of Tibetan protesters with petrol bombs have destroyed a police station and police vehicles in a Tibetan region of Szechwan province, marking a dramatic new escalation of the violence that began in Lhasa last week, reports said last night.

At least seven Tibetan protesters in Szechwan were killed by paramilitary police, who opened fire on the crowd of pro-independence demonstrators yesterday, according to a Tibetan rights group. The report was unconfirmed and police denied it.

In another Tibetan region, in Gansu province, at least eight people were killed when police opened fire on 5,000 anti-China protesters yesterday, Radio Free Asia reported.

On Saturday, at least 1,000 Tibetans protested against Chinese rule in Gansu, destroying some government offices, and police fired tear gas to disperse them, according to Tibetan activist groups.

Lhasa, where the protests began last week, remains sealed off to the outside world. At least 10 people, and perhaps up to 80, were killed there on Friday when Tibetans rioted, clashing with police and torching Chinese shops.

Lhasa was reported to be relatively calm yesterday, with most residents ordered to stay inside their homes. Foreign tourists were evicted from the city or barred from entering for “safety reasons.”

About 200 military vehicles, each with 40 to 60 soldiers, drove into Lhasa yesterday, while loudspeakers blared out messages telling the residents to “maintain order,” according to a Hong Kong television station.

China announced that it might give a “reduced punishment” to any rioter who surrendered to the authorities by midnight tonight.

The Tibetan government-in-exile said at least 80 corpses were counted by family members and other sources after the Friday clashes, and some of the victims had been shot by police.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, said the Tibetan protesters were unhappy with the massive tidal wave of Chinese migrants who have overwhelmed the region. China is using force to impose a “rule of terror” on the Tibetans, he said.

“Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some cultural genocide is taking place,” the Dalai Lama told reporters at his exile headquarters in Dharamsala, India. “The Tibetan nation is facing serious danger.”

China's state-owned news agency, one of the government's main mouthpieces, lashed out at the Dalai Lama on the weekend, calling him a “master terror-maker” who had disturbed “the serene abode of the gods” in Lhasa.

The Chinese agency said the Dalai Lama had “turned the tranquil holy city of Lhasa into a land of terror.”

It said the Dalai Lama was taught by a Nazi teacher when he was a child. “Now the blaze and blood in Lhasa has unclad the nature of the Dalai Lama.”

Analysts said that China seemed to be adopting a strategy of branding the Dalai Lama as a “terrorist” because it had used similar tactics against other activists that wanted autonomy for ethnic regions such as the Muslim region of Xinjiang.

China is worried that the violence in the Tibetan regions could cast a shadow over the Beijing Olympics. The Olympics is supposed to be a showcase for China's policy of a “harmonious society.”

The state news agency also released an account of the rioting on Friday, saying that the Tibetan rioters had brandished “iron rods, wooden sticks and long knives” and had randomly assaulted passersby, including women and children.

“Vandals carrying backpacks filled with stones and bottles of flammable liquids smashed windows, set fire to vehicles, shops and restaurants along their path,” the account said.

Most Chinese media did not give details of the rioting, and websites often censored their coverage. Some comments did appear on a few websites yesterday, and most were nationalistic in their tone, blaming the Tibetans.

“All splittists should be killed, they are a Western conspiracy,” wrote one person in a comment on a Chinese blog yesterday.

“Hooligan countries like America intend to take advantage of Tibetan separatists to put pressure on China,” another person wrote.

A shopkeeper in Lhasa said his shop was attacked by the protesters. “Those Tibetans were crazy, trying to kill Han people as soon as they saw us,” he wrote on the blog. “I support the armed crackdown by the government.”

Some Chinese people, however, were sympathetic to the Tibetans. “I think the Tibetans fight for their own rights, instead of waiting for charity from the Communist Party, and I support their fight,” one person wrote.


Tibet protester deadline passes, BBC, Monday, 17 March 2008.

The deadline for Tibetan protesters to surrender to the police has passed, after a quiet day in the city of Lhasa. China had given demonstrators in the city until midnight (1600 GMT) to give themselves up or face punishment.

Exiled Tibetans said security forces had been rounding up political dissidents and witnesses said there was a heavy police presence on the streets.

Dozens are feared dead after days of rioting in Lhasa, with each side accusing the other of excessive force.

Other parts of China also saw rallies on the weekend, while Tibetans in Nepal and India are continuing to protest.

Qiangba Puncog, the Tibetan regional governor, said earlier that 13 "innocent civilians" had been killed by mobs in Lhasa.

He blamed the unrest on outside forces including Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who heads the Tibetan government-in-exile from India.

"The Dalai group and some other people in Western countries look at the beating, burning and smashing activities in the riots in Lhasa as peaceful demonstrations," he said.

"No democratic country in the world will tolerate this kind of crime."

The exiled Tibetan government says at least 80 protesters died in the Chinese crackdown.

Spokesman Tenzin Takhla said the security forces had regained control of the city and it was impossible for anyone to hold a rally there at the moment.

He said there were house-to-house searches going on and a number of former political prisoners were reported to have been detained again.

One Lhasa resident told the BBC late on Sunday that there was a heavy police presence in the city - but signs of normal life had returned.

"The schools are now open and children are going to school but shops are still closed as lots have been damaged and burned," he said.

Rocks hurled

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Sichuan province, rights groups say seven people were killed when security forces opened fire on Tibetan protesters in the city of Aba on Sunday.

And in Machu, Gansu province, a protester told the BBC a crowd of people set government buildings on fire on Sunday.

Groups of people also took down the Chinese flag and set it on fire, replacing it with the Tibetan flag, he said.

Smaller protests were reported elsewhere in Gansu and Tibet.

China has given Tibetans involved in the Lhasa protests a deadline of midnight on Monday local time to surrender to police.

The Dalai Lama has called for an international inquiry into China's crackdown, while Western leaders have called for restraint.

Anti-China rallies began on 10 March - the anniversary of a Tibetan uprising - and gradually intensified.

On Friday, demonstrators in Lhasa set fire to Chinese-owned shops and hurled rocks at local police, triggering a crackdown.

The unrest comes as preparations for this year's Olympic Games in Beijing are well advanced.

China has already faced calls for boycotts over its policies in Africa, and Olympic chief Jacques Rogge said he was "very concerned" about the situation in Tibet.

China says Tibet has always been part of its territory. But Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before the 20th Century and many Tibetans remain loyal to the Dalai Lama, who fled in 1959.


Jürgen Kremb, Spiegel, March 17, 2008.

1: Tibet -- China's Gaza Strip

The violence in Lhasa is not part of a separatist campaign. Rather, it is the result of failed political policies. To avoid an Olympic-sized debacle, it is time for Beijing to sit down together with the Dalai Lama. The radical Tibetan alternative is far more dangerous.

Tanks in the street of Lhasa, burning cars on the Roof of the World and thousands of soldiers brandishing assault rifles, imposing peace at the barrel of a gun -- it is as if China was an imploding banana republic. On top of that, there are unknown numbers of dead on both sides. This, surely, is not the new China -- a gleaming economic powerhouse -- that Beijing wanted to present to the world before its celebration of the century: the 2008 Olympic Games.

In fact, the situation is turning into a nightmare. The horror is worst for the locals, who in the next few days will be dragged out of their homes and subjected to terrible punishments and torture. The promise that Beijing will uphold human rights in the run-up to the Olympic Games has now gone out the window.

Even before the Olympic torch passes through the streets of Lhasa and is carried up Mount Everest later this spring, Chinese judges will likely have already handed down the first death sentences to demonstrators.

For the planners of the Olympic Games and for China's politicians, who would have liked to have basked in the glory of a clean and apolitical Games, their worst nightmares have come true.

Unspeakable Suffering

Pointing the finger of blame now helps nobody. Instead, it is time to confront reality. The fact remains that the Tibetan conflict is a political problem. Beijing and the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, India are paying the price of wasting 20 years, when they could have worked towards a serious and peaceful solution.

The last time this happened was in the 1980s. At the time the Dalai Lama, with Chinese approval, sent three delegations to Tibet. Each of the groups, who were led by the Dalai Lama's relatives, exile politicians and high-ranking Buddhist dignitaries, led to tumult in the region.

People broke down in tears. They reported unspeakable suffering and terrible human rights abuses during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. They spoke of genocide and the destruction of Buddhist culture. According to various estimates, up to 1.2 million Tibetans have died due to the Chinese occupation and various political campaigns since the Dalai Lama fled his homeland in March 1959.

Beijing was shocked by the outpouring of grief and has avoided any dialogue since then. It has denounced any form of opposition -- even from the Buddhist clergy -- as "mob riots." According to Communist propaganda, the Dalai Lama is a "separatist who wants to split up the mother country."

Offers made to the Dalai Lama and his government in exile that they can return if they want, but may not live anywhere other than Beijing, demonstrate just how unprepared the Communists are to engage in any real dialogue. Even owning pictures of the Dalai Lama is punishable by law.

Minority in Their Own Homeland

In reality, the Chinese government isn't at all interested in an amicable solution to the conflict. Instead, Beijing is using the Chinese populace as its most potent weapon, in the form of a resettlement policy that has seen tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese relocated to Tibet in recent years -- and the resulting assimilation of the region. Party members, farmers, blue-collar workers -- for decades they have been sent to those areas of China which used to have a Tibetan majority.

Those areas include not only the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region, but also provinces such as Qinghai, Gansu and parts of Sichuan, where approximately 6 million Tibetans still live. The apex of this policy was the construction of the train line to Lhasa, completed three years ago. While the project brought prosperity and economic development to the region, it also accelerated the process whereby locals have become a minority in their own homeland.

The Dalai Lama, for his part, has unfortunately been unable to find an adequate political strategy to counter Beijing's cultural imperialism. As a monk living in exile who is dedicated to non-violence, his options are limited. But despite his reputation as the jet-setting pop-star of contemplation and reflection, he has not found a political approach to guide his people into the future.

In the 1980s, in recognition of the realities of Chinese occupation, he abandoned demands that Tibet be granted independence. Instead, he has insisted that China guarantee to preserve Tibetan culture, as was promised by Mao Zedong after China occupied Tibet in 1951.

But even as the Dalai Lama seems to adhere to political realism, his government in exile often engages in such esoteric debates as to whether Tibet was truly sovereign prior to the arrival of the Chinese, or whether it had been granted suzerainty. Beijing's distrust is also fuelled by the fact that the Dalai Lama remains head of the Free Tibet Campaign, which demands freedom and independence.

That may seem like a desirable outcome -- that Tibet receives its freedom like Kosovo and East Timor. But that has little to do with realpolitik. China would never consent to an independent Tibet -- neither a Communist People's Republic nor the nationalist power which is currently flexing its muscles in Asia. A "democratic China," developed through increasing trade with the world, is merely a chimera called into being by dreamers in the West. China sees Tibet as a "domestic affair" and as such is not willing to listen to council from outside its borders. Furthermore, America's human rights record of the last few years has made it easy for China to follow an aggressive course

2: Pressure for an Olympic Boycott Will Only Grow

The problem, though, is that China has to understand that in a globalized world, there is no such thing as problems that are purely "domestic." It makes no sense for Beijing to clutch to a concept of sovereignty straight out of the 19th century. Lhasa long ago became China's Gaza Strip. The Dalai Lama no longer has complete authority on Tibetan streets and in Tibetan monasteries. It is the Tibetan Youth Congress that sets the tone these days.

This is a radical group of exile Tibetans that has withheld support for the Dalai Lama for years. They say that his peaceful path has failed to secure freedom for their homeland and that Tibetans must follow the path of other liberation movements, like the Palestinians or the East Timorese.

But it wasn't the Dalai Lama who fostered these angry youth, but rather the reluctance of China to seek out a political solution for Tibet. Like the children of Gaza, they are the product of social exclusion and cultural oppression. They won't allow themselves to be bossed around by the Chinese authorities or any other. China had been simply waiting until the Dalai Lama dies before they dealt with the Tibet problem -- the Tibet Youth Congress dooms that approach to failure.

Self-Immolation at the Olympics?

In short, the current unrest is nowhere close to dissipating. The Lhasa fire was first stoked by a Tibetan protest march from India to the Chinese border. It is now releasing long-festering frustration in Tibet itself. And a brutal deployment of Chinese security forces will not be enough to prevent an Olympic-sized PR disaster. What will happen if a monk self-immolates himself in the Olympic village during the 2008 Games? Such dramatic protests are also part of the playbook used by Tibet's young radicals.

More than that, the pressure to boycott the Chinese Olympics will only grow in the coming weeks -- which could result in an image disaster for China. And for everyone participating.

Beijing has the means to mitigate the damage in its hands. In order to prevent leaving the Beijing 2008 Olympics with an aftertaste comparable to that of Berlin in 1936, Chinese Communist Party chief Hu Jintao will have to do something he is not used to doing. Rather than showing brute force, he must pursue de-escalation in Tibet. Rather than short-sighted propaganda, he must engage in true dialogue. The argument that sports have nothing to do with politics will hardly suffice.

For starters, if China moves forward to put Lhasa rioters on trial, then Beijing should allow international observers to view the proceedings. A transparent public investigation would also be helpful. If soldiers shot at protesting civilians or the demonstrators lynched Chinese settlers, both should be grounds for prosecution and punishment.

And if China truly is a peaceful power, then why not enter into a true dialog with the Tibetan exile government in order to resolve their problems? Such negotiations would have to take place outside of China on neutral ground. Not in Washington or Moscow -- but in a place like Jakarta or Stockholm, or Geneva, home of the Olympic Committee.

Such a move would clearly demonstrate China's readiness for a new era of political enlightenment. After all, that is exactly what Beijing wants to show the world by hosting the 2008 Olympics. And why not invite the Dalai Lama to the Olympics as a guest of honor? Were China to do that, then the country would truly have the world's respect.


PRESS RELEASE, Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, March 18, 2008.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to world leaders and the international community for their concern over the recent sad turn of events in Tibet and for their attempts to persuade the Chinese authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with the demonstrations.

Since the Chinese Government has accused me of orchestrating these protests in Tibet, I call for a thorough investigation by a respected body, which should include Chinese representatives, to look into these allegations. Such a body would need to visit Tibet, the traditional Tibetan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region, and also the Central Tibetan Administration here in India. In order for the international community, and especially the more than one billion Chinese people who do not have access to uncensored information, to find out what is really going on in Tibet, it would be of tremendously helpful if representatives of the international media also undertook such investigations.

Whether it was intended or not, I believe that a form of cultural genocide has taken place in Tibet, where the Tibetan identity has been under constant attack. Tibetans have been reduced to an insignificant minority in their own land as a result of the huge transfer of non-Tibetans into Tibet. The distinctive Tibetan cultural heritage with its characteristic language, customs and traditions is fading away. Instead of working to unify its nationalities, the Chinese government discriminates against these minority nationalities, the Tibetans among them.

It is common knowledge that Tibetan monasteries, which constitute our principal seats of learning, besides being the repository of Tibetan Buddhist culture, have been severely reduced in both in number and population. In those monasteries that do still exist, serious study of Tibetan Buddhism is no longer allowed; in fact, even admission to these centres of learning is being strictly regulated. In reality, there is no religious freedom in Tibet. Even to call for a little more freedom is to risk being labeled a separatist. Nor is there any real autonomy in Tibet, even though these basic freedoms are guaranteed by the Chinese constitution.

I believe the demonstrations and protests taking place in Tibet are a spontaneous outburst of public resentment built up by years of repression in defiance of authorities that are oblivious to the sentiments of the local populace. They mistakenly believe that further repressive measures are the way to achieve their declared aim of long-term unity and stability.

On our part, we remain committed to taking the Middle Way approach and pursuing a process of dialogue in order to find a mutually beneficial solution to the Tibetan issue.

With these points in mind, I also seek the international community’s support for our efforts to resolve Tibet’s problems through dialogue, and I urge them to call upon the Chinese leadership to exercise the utmost restraint in dealing with the current disturbed situation and to treat those who are being arrested properly and fairly.


Dalai Lama says he'll quit if violence grows, Jonathan Allen, Globe, March 18, 2008.

DHARAMSALA, INDIA — The Dalai Lama said on Tuesday he would resign as Tibetan leader if the situation veers out of control in Tibet and denied accusations from China that he was inciting riots.

“If things become out of control then my only option is to completely resign,” Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, told a news conference at his base of Dharamsala in northern India.

On Tuesday, China's premier Wen Jiabao accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating riots in which dozens may have died and said his followers were trying to “incite sabotage” of Beijing's August Olympic Games.

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959, denied Chinese accusations that he was masterminding protests and said he was against violence, whether from Chinese or Tibetans.

“Even 1,000 Tibetans sacrificed their life, not much help,” he told reporters. “Please help stop violence from Chinese side and also from Tibetan side.”

The Dalai Lama said he had nothing to hide from the Chinese.

“Investigate thoroughly, so if you want to start investigating from here you are most welcome,” he said. “Check our various offices.

“They can examine my pulse, my urine, my stool, everything,” he said with a laugh, miming as he talked.

The Nobel peace laureate reaffirmed that he wanted autonomy for Tibet within China but not outright independence.

Later, one of his top aides clarified the Dalai Lama's comments.

“If the Tibetans were to choose the path of violence he would have to resign because he is completely committed to non-violence,” Tenzin Takhla said. “He would resign as the political leader and head of state, but not as the Dalai Lama. He will always be the Dalai Lama.”

As the Tibetan spiritual leader, he was recognized at age two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama and enthroned before he turned four. He assumed full powers at age 15, in the year that troops from Mao Zedong's newly founded communist republic entered Tibet and crushed its small army.

Monk-led anti-China protests in Lhasa, the biggest in almost two decades, turned ugly on Friday, weighing uncomfortably on the Communist leadership anxious to polish its image in the build-up to the Olympic Games.

India hosts the Dalai Lama in the India city of Dharamsala, seat of the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile and the scene of daily protests in the past week.

More than 2,000 Tibetans gathered on Tuesday from all over northeastern India for their biggest rally in the area in years, demanding the United Nations investigate reports of killings of protesters in China.

Led by hundreds of shaven-headed Buddhist monks in maroon robes, some as young as eight, they waved Tibetan flags and marched through the streets of Siliguri, chanting: “We want justice, we want freedom”.


Protesters 'surrender in Tibet', BBC, 19 March 2008.

More than 100 people have turned themselves in to police following anti-China riots in Tibet's main city, Lhasa, Chinese state media have said.
Harsh punishment had been threatened if they failed to meet a Monday deadline.

Reports have emerged of other protests in Chinese provinces bordering Tibet, including Tibetans tearing down a Chinese flag in Gansu province.

UK PM Gordon Brown said China's Premier Wen Jiabao had told him he was open to a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Also on Wednesday, the Tibetan spiritual leader asked Tibetan activists not to undertake a controversial march from India to Lhasa.

Olympics vow

The Tibet regional government said 105 protesters had handed themselves over to police by 2300 (1500GMT) on Tuesday, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

All had been involved in "beating, smashing, looting and arson", the agency quoted Baema Chilain, vice-chairman of the regional government, as saying.

Serious unrest was reported in provinces close to Tibet with large ethnic Tibetan populations.

Video has emerged from nearby Gansu province showing Tibetans tearing down a Chinese flag and replacing it with a Tibetan flag.

Hundreds of protesters can be seen on foot and horseback in Tuesday's incident at a school near Hezuo, captured by a Canadian film crew.

The demonstrators tried to march on a government building before security forces used tear gas to stop them, reports from the scene said.

The India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said three people had been killed by security forces in Kardze, Sichuan province.

The group said hundreds of people had taken to the streets with banners calling for Tibetan independence.

The Chinese government and rights groups have provided radically different accounts of the past week's unrest.

The Tibetan government in exile in India says 99 people have now died in clashes with security forces - including 80 in Lhasa.

But Chinese officials say only 13 people died - and they were killed during riots by Dalai Lama supporters.

Foreign journalists have not been allowed into Lhasa and information is tightly controlled, making it difficult to verify either of these claims.

Olympic torch

China's handling of the Tibet issue is being watched closely by world leaders in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Officials said on Wednesday that the Olympic torch - which will be carried across China ahead of the Games - will still go through Tibet despite the current troubles.

It is due to be carried to the top of Mount Everest in May, and to pass through Lhasa in June.

Gordon Brown told the UK parliament Mr Wen had told him there could be dialogue with the Dalai Lama under certain conditions.

"The premier told me that, subject to two things that the Dalia Lama has already said - that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence that he would be prepared to enter into dialogue," Mr Brown said.

He said he had told Mr Wen the violence must end.

Chinese officials have been engaged in on-off contacts with Tibetan exiles for 30 years but the last talks were in July last year.

Dalai Lama appeal

Mr Brown also said he would meet the Dalai Lama during a visit to London in May, a move China would certainly oppose.

The Dalai Lama has told groups organising the controversial march from India to Lhasa that he feared there would be clashes with Chinese troops on the border.

Tenzin Taklha, a senior aide, said: "His Holiness appealed to [them] to end their protest march to Tibet."

Protests began on 10 March, on the anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, and gradually escalated.

BBC correspondents say there has been a significant increase in the number of military convoys heading into Tibet from neighbouring regions.

An eyewitness told the BBC there had been a military build-up in the city of Aba, which has seen large-scale protests in recent days. The witness said it was in a "curfew-like" situation.

China says Tibet has always been part of its territory but Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before the 20th Century and many Tibetans remain loyal to the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959.


The Dalai Lama's Moment of Truth, Erich Follath and Wieland Wagner, Spiegel, 21 March 2008.

At this summer's Olympic Games, Beijing’s Communist Party wanted to present China as a gleaming new superpower. But its brutal suppression of Tibet has jeopardized this image -- and placed the Dalai Lama himself under pressure to keep angry Tibetans on a course of non-violence.

He sits hunched over, as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders, his famous and often so liberating smile frozen, his characteristic and consistently bubbling optimism dissipated. The 14th Dalai Lama seems depressed as he receives the world press in his Indian exile. He is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who has apparently lost the support of all partners in peace, a god-king without a country.

He's at a loss over what to do about the bloody unrest in Tibet. He has called for an independent international investigation of the recent riots and military crackdown, knowing Beijing will never agree. And he's urged the Chinese leadership to exercise restraint and respect human rights. But the Dalai Lama also preaches nonviolence to his fellow Tibetans. "I lack the means to defuse the conflict," says the world's most famous asylum seeker, a man revered by people around the world -- in Germany even more so than the pope.

"We would need a miracle for that," says the Dalai Lama, 72, whose real name is Tenzin Gyatso. (His title means "Ocean of Wisdom.") "But miracles are unrealistic." The Dalai Lama has even broached the idea of stepping down as political leader of Tibetans and returning to private life. Over and over he says: "I don't understand the Chinese, I really don't understand them. This sort of escalation cannot be in their best interest."

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called the Dalai Lama a "hypocrite" and holds him responsible for the recent violence in the streets of the Tibet's capital, Lhasa. Other leading Chinese Communists have heaped derision on the Tibetan leader-in-exile, calling him everything from a "divider of the nation" to a "wolf in monks' robes."

His native Tibet has again moved into the international spotlight, but not in a way the apostle of nonviolence welcomes. China, which occupies Tibet, has declared a "people's war" there and has largely cut off the region from the outside world. Tibetan Communist Party leader Zhang Qingli has called it a "fight for life and death." After a period of silence about the incident, the Communist Party in Beijing announced that there were 16 dead on the streets of the Lhasa. But Tibetan exiles believe the death toll is closer to 100.

Since last weekend, tanks have rolled through the city's streets and soldiers have been stationed at all key points, sealing off the Jokhang Temple in downtown Lhasa and the nearby Sera, Drepung and Ganden monasteries. Distraught Tibetans who have managed to find a functioning telephone or Internet access report house-to-house searches, arrests, beatings and torture. The Chinese apparently set an ultimatum that expired on Monday evening. Those who were recognized as protesters by the government, who failed to turn themselves in and denounce fellow protesters by the deadline -- thereby accepting a supposedly "mild punishment" -- faced "the full severity of the law," as the Communist Party called it.

Eyewitnesses say that more than 1,000 people were arrested, with dozens of them paraded through Lhasa in open trucks, their heads bowed and their hands handcuffed behind their backs. More than 100 women and men had turned themselves in voluntarily, reported the region's vice-governor, who claimed: "Some were directly involved in looting and arson." Qiangba Puncog, the region's governor, offered an accountant's assessment of the "serious crimes of the Dalai Lama clique," saying that during the riots of the last few days 214 shops went up in flames, 56 cars were damaged and 61 police officers were injured.

An Illusion of Calm

Nevertheless, the Chinese failed to quell the resistance. The clashes between rioters and security forces continued on the outskirts of Lhasa on Tuesday, and in the city residents placed toilet paper on the streets -- a message calling on the Chinese to finally withdraw from Tibet.

But by mid-week official TV broadcasts showed images of Chinese merchants clearing debris from their ruined shops, while others covered burned-out window openings with plastic tarps. The Communist Party leadership wanted to demonstrate that calm had returned to Lhasa. A reporter stood in front of a burned middle school to suggest that rioters had not even drawn the line at schools. And rumors, probably started by Communist Party officials, spread among the Chinese in Lhasa that the drinking water was contaminated. The Dalai Lama had ordered the water supply poisoned, a merchant told Norwegian tourists who were the last to leave the city, on Air China Flight 4111 to Beijing.

If Lhasa had become deathly quiet by mid-week, though -- because few residents dared leave their homes to challenge Chinese forces -- protests spread like wildfire to other parts of the People's Republic.

Demonstrators took to the streets in Sichuan, Gansu, Yunnan and Qinghai provinces, where there are more Tibetans than in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region, an arbitrary entity created by Beijing. According to Tibetans in exile, 39 people died during protests in these areas by Wednesday. Many of the demonstrators were monks and devout Buddhists openly celebrating the Dalai Lama, defying the ban on displaying his likeness and swearing eternal obedience to their revered god-king. But students also joined the demonstrators in several cities.

In Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, roads leading to Tibet were closed, and the town of Xiahe in Ganan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was also sealed off. Xiahe is home to the Buddhist Labrang Monastery, where, according to eyewitness reports, 400 monks took to the streets and, joined by several thousand sympathizers, swung the Tibetan flag and sang songs praising the Dalai Lama.

In Aba, in Sichuan Province, demonstrators set fire to a market with Molotov cocktails, and several of them were allegedly shot by police. "I have spent the last four days hiding in my house with my family," a Tibetan police officer responsible for security at the temple complex in Aba told SPIEGEL by telephone. He said his police station was burned to the ground during the protests, and that the police initially sought protection from the army. He was only able to return to his family late at night.

In Gansu Province -- as photographs taken by two Canadian television reporters show -- demonstrators on horseback stormed down from the mountains and congregated in front of the Bora Monastery near the city of Hezuo. Together with monks and demonstrators on mopeds, the Tibetans surrounded a government building, took down the Chinese flag and hoisted the Tibetan flag in its place before police and soldiers regained control over the area after hours of street skirmishes.

Part 2: 'Everywhere Completely Under Control'

A few blocks away, monks from the Bora Monastery even broke into and ransacked Chinese shops. They deliberately spared the shopkeepers but didn't end their attacks until a Lama interceded. Meanwhile, Communist Party leaders used government-controlled television to announce that they had the situation "everywhere completely under control."

The region, a popular tourist destination, is now deserted. Instead of the usual backpackers, hotels now house government security forces. Residents seeking to leave the Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the direction of Chengdu must pass through road checkpoints, where Chinese soldiers wielding machine guns search cars and trunks with metal detectors. Meanwhile, military trucks filled with young soldiers -- reinforcements -- arrive from the opposite direction.

Grassroots Pressure on China

Even in Beijing, roughly 50 young academics from the Central University for Nationalities dared to challenge the authorities by staging a sit-in -- and risking their freedom, or at the very least jeopardizing their careers. According to the state news agency Xinhua, professors convinced the protesters to return to their dormitories.

But the Chinese public was kept almost completely in the dark about most of the protests, as if a news blackout -- including blockage of the domestic feeds for CNN and the BBC, a ban on international reporting and the expulsion of Hong Kong journalists -- could make the events go away.

And yet the news quickly circled the globe, mainly thanks to media-savvy young Tibetan politicians in exile. They spread their message throughout a worldwide network and triggered a massive outcry against Beijing. From Athens to Amsterdam, from Washington to Wellington and from The Hague to Tokyo, demonstrators took to the streets to show solidarity for the repressed Tibetan minority. In Berlin, hundreds demonstrated in front of the embassy of the People's Republic of China. The protests were especially strident in neighboring Nepal and India, where more than 80,000 Tibetan exiles live.

In Taiwan, where elections will be held on Sunday, events on the roof of the world have suddenly taken center stage. Beijing considers the island nation a renegade province and hopes that the Kuomintang Party (KMT), which is the Taiwanese party most closely aligned with the mainland Communist Party, will win the election -- which would bring Taiwan closer to "reunification." But now the widely favored presidential candidate, KMT's Ma Ying-jeou, finds himself on the defensive. He has condemned what he calls "repression in Tibet," and he's considering a boycott of the Olympics, echoing the sentiments of some European politicians.

The events in Tibet and elsewhere have turned into a major public-relations disaster for China's leaders. Suddenly the ugly face of Chinese communism is omnipresent again, as images of past injustices are conjured up. The 1989 massacre on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, when the party's tanks mowed down peaceful demonstrators and up to 3,000 people were killed, has been on people's minds; so has the violence in Lhasa in 1959, when more than 80,000 Tibetans died in the wake of a failed uprising that led to the Dalai Lama's forced exile. It's all happening as Beijing hoped to bask in the glow of the Olympics. This preeminent celebration of sports is more than just a prestigious event for China's leadership. Beijing associates the Olympics with its return to the stage as a world power.

The countdown to this new era has been running for seven years. The 1.3 billion citizens of the most populous nation on earth have been well primed. Beijing wants to suggest it has joined the United States as a superpower -- backed up by certain economic facts. China already has the largest foreign currency reserves of any nation, and it will likely be the world's leading exporter in 2008. The West looks up to us again, Beijing implies to its own people, with its imposing new towers and new Olympic sports facilities.

Last Tuesday, at his annual press conference to conclude the Beijing meeting of the National People's Congress, Premier Wen -- already playing jovial host -- insisted that the "smiles of 1.3 billion Chinese " will be returned by the smiles of all of the peoples of the world. But his performance also revealed that this time Beijing can no longer ignore global outrage over its repressive policies in Tibet. Speaking on live TV, the premier seemed genuinely anxious to respond to reporters' questions.

But then Wen proceeded to rattle off the party's hackneyed phrases, insisting that the Dalai Lama's claims that he seeks a peaceful dialogue, not independence for Tibet, are nothing but lies. On the other hand, he was also forced to address a French reporter's request to allow the foreign press to travel to Tibet, promising that Beijing would "look into" the matter.

Beijing's Catch-22

But why is China jeopardizing its reputation in the world in such a dramatic way? What is it about Tibet and the Dalai Lama that has triggered the Communist Party leadership's extreme reaction? And how much of the escalation can be attributed to young, radical Tibetans who no longer support the Dalai Lama's peaceful "middle way," instead seeking confrontation with their Chinese occupiers?

Even more important, what exactly happened in Lhasa? And what is happening there now, while the global public is kept in the dark?

Beijing sees the unrest in Tibet as an attack on the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and a large majority of Chinese share its views. Ninety-two percent of Chinese belong to the Han ethnic group, and from their perspective Beijing is merely defending China's best interests in its dealings with Tibet.

If the People's Republic were made up entirely of Han Chinese, of course, the government could have saved itself the trouble of blocking reports about the Tibetan riots on the Internet. The popular Internet portal sina.com listed up to 470 websites with tens of thousands of comments from enraged Chinese. One user wrote that the government should "not relent in the struggle against terrorists," while another insisted that Beijing should "protect the fatherland and fight the separatists."

This outpouring of anger cannot be dismissed as a consequence of nationalist indoctrination, a strategy China's Communists hope will keep them in power in their new age of capitalism. The fight against rebellious minorities along the outer edges of the massive country, in strategically important regions blessed with mineral resources, also touches on a deeply rooted Chinese fear of national disintegration. They call it "iuan," or chaos.

This is why no Chinese government can afford to yield to Western pressure to make concessions to Tibet, even the Olympics are jeopardized. The Chinese government finds itself in a Catch-22 situation. One goal was to use the games to plaster over a host of growing internal conflicts, including social tensions and ethnic uprisings. But now the Olympics themselves may have contributed to the widening of natural fissures in China's social fabric.

Part 3: Mia Farrow and the 'Genocide Olympics'

After it was awarded the games, Beijing proved receptive to criticism, but only of its foreign policy. It endured scathing condemnation by Hollywood stars like Mia Farrow of Beijing's backing of the Sudanese government and its role in the genocide in Darfur (in a 2007 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Farrow characterized the 2008 games as a "Genocide Olympics"). This outcry prompted the Communist Party rulers to consent to a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur and even consider participating in it.

But all hopes for an improvement of human rights within China have been in vain. Despite protests by organizations like Human Rights Watch, dissidents like Yang Chulin ("We want human rights, not the Olympics") and AIDS activist Hu Jia have been put on trial for "subversion." Although Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Li Baodong is permitted to exercise self-criticism ("China still has a long way to go to promote and protect human rights"), the regime in Beijing already paints itself as a role model when it comes to human rights. Foreign Minister Yang Jieche insists: "The Chinese people enjoy the full extent of human rights and religious freedom."

The Chinese Communist Party's deep hatred of the Dalai Lama is rooted in his gentle but firm insistence, when speaking with politicians from around the world, that precisely the opposite is true. He accuses the Chinese government of waging "cultural genocide," in the form of the deliberate mass settlement of his native Tibet with Han Chinese, a process that destroys Tibetan traditions. One reason Beijing has responded so vehemently to the attacks is that they are so difficult to deny.

A Spiritial Disneyland

Lhasa is a predominantly Chinese city today. As a result of Han Chinese settlement, promoted by tax subsidies, Tibetans are now a minority in their own capital. They make up only about one-third of its 400,000 residents. Bars and brothels have dramatically altered the character of this holy place, as have the soldiers patrolling its streets. The city's tallest building, surrounded by colored plastic palm trees, houses the headquarters of the secret police. The most successful businesspeople are Chinese, who make no secret of their disdain for the "backward locals."

Tibetans benefit the least from a rising standard of living, even though, from a material standpoint, they are better off than ever before. But they are spiritually starved, and the majority of Tibetans still cling to their spiritual and political father figure, perhaps even more so today. They know the 14th Dalai Lama has long been a democratically oriented reformer, and most Tibetans have at least enough contact with the government-in-exile in Dharamsala to know it has a freely elected parliament. The Chinese Communist Party and its "People's Liberation Army," which in 1950 invaded Tibet -- until then a de facto independent country -- have yet to acquire a comparable level of respect among Tibetans.

The Tibetan people don't enjoy true religious freedom. They are permitted to perform their Buddhist ceremonies in the private sphere, and a few monasteries have been restored to be inhabited by monks again. But the party has carefully severed Tibetans' spiritual bond with their god-king. Anyone caught with a picture of the Dalai Lama is arrested and often tortured.

The Potala Palace, the traditional seat of the Dalai Lama, is being preserved, but merely as a tourist attraction, part of Beijing's effort to reduce Tibet to a spiritual Disneyland. Late last week, when unarmed monks were intimidated during a peaceful demonstration and then arrested, the Tibetans finally vented their anger. It was this rage that probably contributed to violence against Chinese police officers and business owners -- violence that Beijing's governors met with even sharper repression. The official reaction, in turn, led to several monks attempting to commit suicide, setting off a spiral of unrest interrupted only by periods of calm which can be attributed, at best, to exhaustion.

The Dalai Lama opposes any form of violence. He reacted with extreme outrage, even bitterness, to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's charge that he "and his clique" had instigated the bloody riots in Lhasa. Wen even claimed that he had "a lot of evidence" to support his accusations. "Hey, Mr. Prime Minister, come here and show them to me and the world," the Nobel laureate called out a press conference on Tuesday.

In truth, the world's most famous exile has always sought to accommodate the Chinese, beginning with Mao (he was long blinded by Mao's ideological powers of persuasion), followed by Deng Xiaoping and his successors at the head of the Communist Party.

The 14th Dalai Lama gave up his fight for a sovereign independent nation long ago, and now he calls "only" for true cultural autonomy for his Tibet. In several rounds of talks, most recently in 2006, his negotiators sought to shape compromises with Beijing's negotiating team, but failed completely.

The Dalai Lama pinned his hopes on the Communist Party's current harmonization campaign and its increasingly tolerant treatment of all religions. "I am the last Tibetan leader with whom there can be a peaceful transition," the god-king said last year. "And if I am to be an obstacle, I am prepared to withdraw from politics and continue my life as a simple monk."

He left many questions unanswered: whether he should have a successor, whether a woman could become a Dalai Lama, and whether the traditional search for a new reincarnation should be replaced with a sort of conclave in which the new Dalai Lama is elected by abbots. "Perhaps there will even be two Dalai Lamas after me," he said. "One serving at Beijing's pleasure, and one recognized by the Tibetans according to spiritual tradition.

The Communist Party, as an atheist force, has actually presumed to be responsible for reincarnations. In 1995 it appointed the Panchen Lama, the second-highest-ranking Tibetan religious leader, and abducted the boy designated by the Dalai Lama, along with his parents. The whereabouts of the family remain unknown to this day. Beijing's Panchen Lama has obediently condemned the "crimes of the Dalai clique."

The young Tibetan Buddhists of Dharamsala insist that the 14th Dalai Lama has put up with too much, far too much. Taking the nonviolent Mahatma Gandhi as his role model, as the Dalai Lama does, is all very well and good, they say, but the approach should also yield comparable results.

"Gandhi brought independence to India, and where are we today?" Kelsang Phuntsok, then-president of the Tibetan Youth Congress in Dharamsala asked provocatively in 2007. "The word violence is not a taboo for me. At this point we are getting nowhere with the position taken by our revered leader. We are like the panda bears of international politics. Everyone cuddles us, but no one does anything serious on our behalf. We must take fate into our own hands."

When a member of the Youth Congress starved himself to death during a protest a few years ago, the Dalai Lama denounced his act. But young Tibetans celebrated him as a "martyr." It cannot be ruled out that some have thought of transforming their pacifist struggle into a resistance movement akin to the Palestinian struggle. But there is no concrete evidence whatsoever that last week's unrest in Lhasa was part of a deliberate military provocation.

In their campaign surrounding the Beijing Olympics, until now, young Tibetans have opted for creative rather than violent campaigns. They've unfurled "Free Tibet" banners at the Great Wall, used all legal means at their disposal and even presented the IOC with a list of athletes ready to compete as part of their own Tibetan "national team." They have launched rallies converging at the Chinese borders and staged PR-conscious demonstrations in front of embassies.

Now that the young Tibetans are trying to achieve a boycott of the Beijing games, they agree with the Dalai Lama's view that the event should be used to draw attention to the cause of their oppressed people.

Unlike the 14th Dalai Lama, however, the Tibetan Youth Congress will continue to fight for full independence. Young Tibetans think their god-king is simply not of this world when they hear him say: "In Buddhism, we are constantly concerned with how we handle our negative forces and emotions. I also pray for the Chinese. They, of all people, need our sympathy."

Dharamsala's wild young Tibetans have a sixth sense for understanding provocations by the Chinese -- when Tibet's Communist Party Chairman Zhang says, for example, that the party is the "father and mother of the Tibetan people," and claims to know exactly "what is good for the children -- the Central Committee is the true Buddha of Tibetans." The Dalai Lama, when he hears this sort of rhetoric, says that he has "great understanding for the impatience of the young people," and that he must admit that his "middle way" has registered few victories so far.

Yet the Dalai Lama sees no alternative to his approach, no matter how fiercely Beijing's politicians demonize him. "As neighbors, we must live together," he says, "side-by-side."