Protesters accuse Dalai Lama of staging 'political show' in Taiwan
Mon, Aug 31, 2009

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan - A group of 30 people who said they were Taiwan typhoon victims demonstrated against the Dalai Lama Monday, accusing him of using a visit to the island to stage a "political show."

The group, from Taiwan's aboriginal community, were standing outside the Tibetan spiritual leader's hotel in the southern city of Kaohsiung, holding up banners, one reading: "We don't want Dalai politics."

"The Dalai Lama is only staging a political show here," said the leader of the protesters, who declined to give his name.

"If the Dalai Lama really wants to help victims and show respect, he should stay in an aboriginal village, not in a big building like this," he said, pointing towards the hotel.

The Dalai Lama arrived in Taiwan late Sunday for a five-day visit which he has said is entirely "non-political" and meant only to provide comfort for victims of Typhoon Morakot, which hit earlier this month, killing at least 571 people.

His trip has angered China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist seeking independence for his Himalayan homeland.

Beijing reacts angrily to any country hosting the Dalai Lama, whom it accuses of trying to split Tibet from China, a position that has only hardened after deadly violence in the Himalayan region in March 2008.

But a trip to Taiwan is particularly sensitive.

Beijing has regarded the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, ever since it split from the mainland in 1949 after a civil war.

When the Dalai Lama arrived at Taoyuan International Airport in the north of the island late Sunday, a group of demonstrators favouring Taiwan unification with China staged a brief protest.

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