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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Tibetans say culture depends on Dalai Lama

September 28, 2010

By Keith B. Richburg
The Boston Globe
September 26, 2010

TONGREN, China -- In China, the Dalai Lama is
officially a dangerous separatist and a
"criminal," and his supporters are prohibited
from discussing him or displaying his picture.

But here in the ethnic Tibetan areas of Qinghai
province, nominally autonomous while under strict
Chinese control, the exiled spiritual leader
remains a ubiquitous presence despite his long physical absence.

The Dalai Lama’s beaming visage gazes down from
the temple altars of Buddhist monasteries. His
likeness adorns a popular artist’s workshop and a
small convenience store selling soft drinks, beer, and snacks.

And everywhere, it seems, the fervent wish is
that the Dalai Lama might return soon to help
save Tibet’s language and culture, which many say
are threatened by China’s ethnic Han majority.

Even the Tibetans’ centuries-old tradition of
herding yak, cattle, and sheep across the Tibetan
plateau’s grasslands appears threatened as
Chinese officials move increasing numbers of
semi-nomadic herdsmen into "resettlement towns," where jobs are scarce.

"We long for the Dalai Lama to come back, to
solve the issue of religious freedom and to help
Tibetan culture come back,’’ said Gen Ga, 24, a
monk at a monastery in the nearby village of
Wutong. “If we look ahead 10 or 20 years, if the
Dalai Lama fails to come back, I do think Tibetan culture will die."

Asked to comment on the calls for the Dalai
Lama’s return, a spokesman for the Chinese
Embassy in Washington, Wang Baodong, said in an
e-mail: “We’ve been dealing with the Dalai Lama
for decades, and we know him well. His personal
future depends on whether he will abandon his
separatist positions on Tibet-related issues in
real earnest, as this is a matter bearing on
China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The main repositories of Tibetan Buddhist culture
are the monasteries -- which were also the source
of rioting in March 2008 — and the government has
since attempted to increase its control over
them, setting up "management committees" to
ensure that the senior monks toe the correct political line.
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