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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama speech to appeal to elite in Tibet

March 11, 2010

By Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim
March 9, 2010

BEIJING (Reuters) -- Tibet's exiled spiritual
leader the Dalai Lama will appeal to the elite in
the Chinese-run Himalayan region in a speech on
Wednesday, inviting them to visit communities of exiled Tibetans.

In an address marking 51 years since he fled into
exile after a failed uprising against Chinese
rule, the Dalai Lama will also pledge he and
members of his government-in-exile will not take
any political positions if and when the Tibet issue is resolved.

He will also deplore conditions in Tibet and
offer his support for Xinjiang, another restless
part of China populated by an ethnic minority,
Muslim Uighurs, according to an advance copy of his speech obtained by Reuters.

China reviles the Nobel Peace Prize winner as a
separatist, and says he foments violence. The
Dalai Lama denies both charges, saying he merely
seeks genuine autonomy for the remote region.

Reaching out to Tibetans working for the Chinese
government, the Dalai Lama will say: "I invite
Tibetan officials serving in various Tibetan
autonomous areas to visit Tibetan communities
living in the free world, either officially or in
a private capacity, to observe the situation for themselves."

China bans Tibetans who work for the government
from visiting exile communities, but many
ordinary Tibetans make the hazardous and illegal
crossing to study Buddhism in the Indian town of
Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama has lived for five decades.

"Let me reiterate that once the issue of Tibet is
resolved, I will not take any political position
nor will members of the Tibetan administration in
exile hold any positions in the government in Tibet," the Dalai Lama will say.

On Sunday, Tibet's new Chinese-appointed governor
said only socialism could "save" the region and
guarantee its development, and blamed the Dalai Lama for Tibet's problems.

Protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese
rule in March 2008 gave way to torrid violence,
with rioters torching shops and turning on
residents, including Han Chinese and Hui Muslims.
Tibetans see Hans as intruders threatening their culture.

At least 19 people died in the 2008 unrest, which
sparked waves of protests across Tibetan areas
ahead of the Beijing Olympics. Pro-Tibet groups
abroad say more than 200 Tibetans have died in a
subsequent crackdown across the region. Beijing
has denied that and said it used minimal force.

The Dalai Lama will say Beijing has put monks and
nuns "in prison-like conditions", making
"monasteries function more like museums ... to
deliberately annihilate Buddhism".

But he will also offer to keep talking to the
Chinese, despite what he sees as "little hope" of results.

China and the Dalai Lama's envoys have held
several rounds of talks since 2002 but made little progress.

In a move certain to further enrage Beijing, the
Dalai Lama will call Xinjiang "East Turkestan",
the name given to it by pro-independence exiles.
Ethnic violence there last year between Uighurs
and majority Han Chinese led to at least 200 deaths.

"Let us also remember the people of East
Turkestan who have experienced great difficulties
and increased oppression," he will say in the
speech. "I would like to express my solidarity and stand firmly with them."
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