Dalai Lama claims China conducting 'cultural genocide' in Tibet
Tue, Apr 15, 2008

WASHINGTON - TIBET'S spiritual leader the Dalai Lama maintained on Monday that Beijing was carrying out 'cultural genocide' in the Himalayan territory despite denial of the charge by the Chinese leadership.

In an interview with NPR, the US public radio network, the exiled 72-year-old leader currently on a US visit also expressed confidence he would eventually return to his homeland.

The Dalai Lama, who is on exile in India after fleeing a failed 1959 uprising, lamented the loss of Tibetan culture under Beijing's so-called autonomy rule.

'Since we have our own unique cultural heritage, including our language, our script, these matters should be in the hands of Tibet, who knows about our culture, about our religion,' he said.

'With this present arrangement, whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place,' said the Dalai Lama, whose US visit is his first overseas trip since Beijing's clampdown of pro-Tibet protests.

Tibetan exiles claim the crackdown has left more than 150 Tibetans dead while Beijing says Tibetan 'rioters' have killed 20 people in the latest unrest in the territory.

The crackdown has provoked anti-China demonstrations abroad, with activists targeting the Olympics torch relay as it passed through Europe and the US last week ahead of the Beijing Games.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has dismissed the Dalai Lama's claims of 'cultural genocide' as 'nothing but lies' while President Hu Jintao denied that the pro-Tibet protests were linked to human rights.

Mr Hu had said that the unrest was aimed purely at 'splitting the motherland' and insisted Beijing's handling of the upheaval was its own affair.

Responding to Mr Hu, the Dalai Lama said, 'People, I think, don't believe that.

'Even Chinese own people, I don't think,' he said. 'One of my sort of sadness is, millions of Chinese, those innocent Chinese, who have no other way to assess the situation, (are) totally reliant on the government information

'And these millions of Chinese really feel anger towards me, for that I feel very sad.' He also said he was confident he would someday return to his homeland.

Indicating that Tibetans had been getting uneasy about his moderate and non-violent stand towards China, the Dalai Lama said he was once accused even by his brother of being a 'traitor'.

'For example, my own elder brother one time described me as a traitor. He described, 'Oh my dear younger brother, sold out Tibetans right'.' - AFP

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