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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Dalai Lama defies China over successor

November 29, 2007

James Sturcke and agencies
Tuesday November 27, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, today proposed a fundamental
change to the selection process of his successor, saying the new
incumbent should be chosen by ballot rather than the current system of a
series of esoteric tests to establish reincarnation.

In an act of defiance to China, which two months ago claimed the right
to select the most senior figure in Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lamai
said the next holder of the post should be chosen by a vote among all
traditional Tibetan Buddhists along the Himalayan range and into Mongolia.

His proposal is likely to mean a fundamental change in the 600-year-old
system for picking a Dalai Lama. Like his predecessors, the current
Dalai Lama - the 14th - was chosen when he was a child by monks, who
identified him as the reincarnation of his recently deceased predecessor.

"If people feel that the institution of the Dalai Lama is still
necessary, it will continue," he told reporters during a gathering of
religious leaders from around the world in Amritsar, northern India.

"When my physical condition becomes weak, then serious preparations [for
the referendum] should happen."

The Dalai Lama was one of 16 children in a Tibetan farming family. He
was selected at the age of two by a search party, who said his family
home looked similar to one seen in a vision by a senior monk. The infant
- born Tenzin Gyatso - then picked out his predecessor's belongings from
a bigger group of items, reportedly shouting "It's mine!"

In September, Chinese authorities claimed to have the right to approve
all lama appointments, leading to fears that the central government will
select a pro-Beijing leader when the incumbent, now 72, dies.

China has ruled Tibet with a heavy hand since its communist-led forces
invaded in 1951 and it has accused the Dalai Lama of defying its
sovereignty by pushing for Tibetan independence.

Beijing has already exerted its authority over the choice of the Panchen
Lama, the second most senior figure in Tibeten Buddhism, who also plays
a key role in the search for a new Dalai Lama.

Six years after the 10th Panchen Lama died in 1989, the Dalai Lama named
a successor. However, China arrested the boy and named its own
candidate. The whereabouts of the Dalai Lama's nominee is unknown, with
human rights groups calling him the "world's youngest political prisoner".
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