The Dalai Lama prays
NEW DELHI: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Saturday appealed to the world community to "please help" resolve the crisis in his homeland that has been rocked by deadly anti-Chinese protests.
"We have no power except justice, truth, sincerity... that is why I appeal to the world community to please help," the Buddhist icon told a news conference in the Indian capital, where he was conducting meditation sessions.
"I am here helpless, I just pray," said the exiled spiritual leader two weeks after anti-Chinese protests in the Himalayan region turned bloody, leading to calls for a boycott of the August Beijing Olympic Games.
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, renewed calls for a dialogue with China's leaders to end the unrest, saying: "My side is open... we are waiting."
His appeal for world help came a day after US President George W. Bush for the first time publicly pressed China to hold talks with representatives of the spiritual leader after raising concerns about the turmoil in Tibet.
Leaders of various religious traditions offered prayers along with the Dalai Lama at Raj Ghat in New Delhi. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)
The Nobel Laureate Dalai Lama, who won the Peace Prize in 1989 for leading a non-violent struggle for the liberation of his homeland, reiterated he was "fully committed" to China hosting the Olympics Games in August.
But the 72-year-old added it was important "to remind the Chinese that in order to be respected hosts of the Games" human rights in Tibet must improve.
He also said he appreciated "the genuine concern and genuine interest" from the international community in what was happening in Tibet, and welcomed Beijing's move to allow journalists access to the riot-torn capital Lhasa. China on Friday also allowed the first foreign diplomats to visit Tibet following the riots.
But he said neutral observers needed to be allowed to go to remote areas as well, where deadly violence has also been reported.
He repeated his denials of Chinese charges that he was seeking independence for Tibet, saying only that he wanted "meaningful autonomy."
Tibetans needed "full guarantees about (protection) of our unique culture including language," said the Dalai Lama, who makes his home in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamshala, which is the seat of Tibet's exile government.
"We are fully committed to the 'middle approach,' " he said, referring to his calls for autonomy. "As soon as some degree of freedom comes we will all return happily to our country."
But he added "expressions of frustrations are increasing" and renewed charges of "cultural genocide" with the flooding of Tibet by Han Chinese.
He also said he wanted more time "for preparation of my next life" and looked forward to the day he could hand over his political role to younger leaders but gave no time frame.
"It is possible within the next some time I may resign fully, voluntarily, happily," said the Dalai Lama, who leads a hectic work, prayer and travel schedule and has previously said he would retire completely within a few years.
Anti-Chinese protests began in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, on March 10 to mark the anniversary of the 1959 uprising and erupted into widespread riots in the city four days later.
They later spread to neighbouring Chinese provinces with a heavy Tibetan presence.
China says rioters killed 18 innocent civilians and two police officers.
Few thousand Tibetans attended the prayer ceremony at Raj Ghat. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)
But exiled Tibetan leaders have put the death toll from a Chinese crackdown at about 140 Tibetans. They say another 1,000 people have been injured and many detained.
The Dalai Lama's statements came after he joined religious leaders of several faiths in New Delhi to pray for those killed in the unrest in Tibet.
Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jain leaders offered prayers along with the Dalai Lama and hundreds of Tibetans and their supporters at the cremation spot of Indian independence leader Mahatama Gandhi in the national capital.