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Dalai Lama accuses China of 'demographic aggression'
AFP[Saturday, November 03, 2007 17:31]
The Dalai Lama in New Delhi
The Dalai Lama in New Delhi
NEW DELHI, November 3: Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama accused China of what he called "demographic aggression", saying his people had been reduced to a minority in his homeland under Beijing's rule.

"Every Tibetan mind lives with fear and feeling of terror," the exiled leader said at a function by religious and peace groups here to celebrate him being awarded the top US Congress civilian honour last month.

"The population of (Tibetan capital) Lhasa used to be 50,000 to 60,000. Now it is 300,000, of which 200,000 are Chinese," he said.

The Dalai Lama said Tibetans were being denied an opportunity to learn their language and monasteries were being politicised under what he called a "cultural genocide."

The Dalai Lama (left) being welcomed by exiled Tibetans in New Delhi
The Dalai Lama (left) being welcomed by exiled Tibetans in New Delhi
"It's quite silly to criticise the Dalai Lama," he chuckled, referring to Tibetans sometimes being arrested if they did not agree to denounce him at monasteries.

The 72-year-old leader said a railway launched last year, linking Tibet to the rest of China, was being used for "exploitation of natural resources."

The Tibetan leader added he was semi-retired and was looking forward to retirement from his political role.

"I am looking for complete retirement and (to) spend time on preparation of my next reincarnation," the Dalai Lama told a gathering of diplomats, religious leaders and Tibetans.

"I want to make clear: the Dalai Lama may die, (but) the Tibetan community will remain," he said to applause.

Buddhist monks waiting for the arrival of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi
Buddhist monks waiting for the arrival of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi
The Dalai Lama said he wanted his authority to be handed over to the Tibetan government-in-exile, based in Dharamsala.

He has lived in the northern Indian hill town since fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

His office has previously said that the Tibetan leader will keep his spiritual role but lessen his political responsibilities.

China has ruled Tibet since sending troops in to "liberate" the region in 1951 and has violently suppressed a number of uprisings since then.

The Dalai Lama said that last month's US honour and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 were a recognition of his efforts to promote religious harmony and his struggle for the Tibetan cause.

He showered lavish praise on India for giving him "another pleasant home."
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