The Tibetan spiritual leader’s remarks showed his frustration over fruitless attempts to negotiate a compromise with China, and came amid reports that hundreds of Tibetans have been rounded up in the capital, Lhasa.
Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of fighting for independence for Tibet, which China says is part of its territory. The Dalai Lama says he wants some form of autonomy for Tibet within China that would allow his people to freely practise their culture, language and religion.
The dispute turned violent two years ago when anti-government protests erupted in Tibet, leaving around 20 dead. Now Chinese soldiers patrol the streets of Tibet.
In his annual address from exile in India, marking the 51st anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against China, the Dalai Lama said Chinese authorities were conducting a campaign of “patriotic re-education” in monasteries in Tibet.
“They are putting the monks and nuns in prison-like conditions, depriving them the opportunity to study and practise in peace,” he told about 3,000 Tibetans in Dharamsala, the northern Indian town where the he has lived for five decades. He accused Chinese authorities of working to “deliberately annihilate Buddhism”.
“Whether the Chinese government acknowledges it or not, there is a serious problem in Tibet,” he said, adding that attempts to talk to the Chinese leadership about granting limited autonomy to the Tibetan people had failed.
“Judging by the attitude of the present Chinese leadership there is little hope that a result will be achieved soon. Nevertheless our stand to continue with the dialogue remains unchanged.”
A commentary by the official Xinhua news agency described the speech as “resentful, yet unsurprising”, adding that it was full of “angry rhetoric”.
It went on: “Regardless of his allegations of not separating China, the Dalai Lama’s request for ‘genuine autonomy’ on one-quarter of the Chinese territory is anything but acceptable for the central government.”
In January Beijing reopened talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys for the first time in 15 months, but in February the regime was incensed when he met Barack Obama in the US.
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