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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama Kicks off Western Tour with China Broadside

May 19, 2008

Agence France -Press (AFP)
May 15, 2008

FRANKFURT (AFP) -- The Dalai Lama accused China of "suppression" on
Thursday as he demanded autonomy for Tibet at the start of a
five-country Western tour three months before the Beijing Olympics.

"The Chinese political authorities' reaction, as before, was
suppression. So it is very sad," he said of China's military
crackdown on violent protests in Lhasa in March that Tibetan leaders
say left 200 dead.

Speaking in Germany, the first stop on his tour, the Dalai Lama
called for autonomy for the Himalayan region invaded by Chinese
troops in 1950 and stressed that Tibetans wanted to live in peace with China.

"Genuine harmony must come on the basis of trust, trust very much
based on equality," he said after landing in Frankfurt. "So far these
are lacking. We need genuine autonomy."

He added that for China, better relations with Tibet was "in the own
interest of the people of this huge country," but that instead
communist-ruled China had become "more leftist" and created
resentment well beyond Tibet's borders.

"That policy is bringing more crisis, more demonstrations than in
1959," when he fled to India following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

"Even Tibetan students in Peking (Beijing), even these people have
joined in expressing their feelings with candlelight vigils. It is an
indication of their resentment."

China's reaction to the Tibet unrest drew international condemnation
and heaped pressure on Beijing over human rights ahead of the Games,
with activists disrupting the global relay of the Olympic torch.

Beijing says Tibetan "rioters" and "insurgents" killed 21 people and
accused the Dalai Lama of being behind the violence and fomenting
trouble ahead of the Olympics.

Representatives of the Dalai Lama held talks this month with China to
try to defuse tensions.

The 1989 Nobel peace laureate's salvo kicked off a tour that will
also take him to the United States, Australia, Britain and France and
only conclude days before the end of the Olympics on August 20.

His schedule in Germany has raised eyebrows as he will meet neither
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in Latin America, nor Foreign
Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Critics accused the German government, which has designated
Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul to meet the
72-year-old, of appeasing China after a chill in relations caused by
Merkel receiving him last year.

The schedule has left neither side happy, with the Dalai Lama's
representative in Europe branding Steinmeier's decision not to meet
him "an unhappy one" and China protesting about Monday's meeting with
Wieczorek-Zeul.

"We will remain consistent. We object to a member of the German
government receiving the Dalai Lama and to Germany allowing him to
carry out this visit," Junhui Zhang from the Chinese embassy in
Berlin told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

China has also raised objections to the spiritual leader addressing a
parliamentary foreign affairs committee, the head of the committee
Ruprecht Polenz told regional paper Muenstersche Zeitung.

After arriving in Germany the Dalai Lama expressed his condolences
for those killed in this week's earthquake in China.

He held talks with Roland Koch, premier of the state of Hesse, as
well as separately with Juergen Ruettgers, another state premier, and
with Norbert Lammert, speaker of the German parliament.

Ruettgers said afterwards that the recent talks between the Dalai
Lama's representatives and the Chinese government offered a "great
chance" for both sides to settle their differences.

"The possibility for an improvement in relations is there," Ruettgers said.

The second leg of the five-nation swing will take the Dalai Lama to
Britain for nine days, where he will hold talks with Prime Minister
Gordon Brown.

Brown drew fire on Wednesday after it emerged that he will not meet
the Tibetan spiritual leader in his Downing Street office, as
predecessors Tony Blair and John Major had done.

On Friday the Dalai Lama was due to give a talk on human rights and
globalisation in the west German city of Bochum before travelling to
Moenchengladbach and Nuremberg.
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