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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."

Editorial: The Dalai Lama's Speech

March 15, 2009

New York Times, Published: March 10, 2009

The Dalai Lama is a man of peace and forbearance. So it is a measure of
Tibet?s suffering and growing desperation that he accused China?s
government on Tuesday of turning Tibet into a ?hell on earth.? We only
hope Beijing heeds his warnings before it is too late.

The Tibetan spiritual leader still advocates a ?middle way? of
nonviolence. But China stubbornly refuses to pursue serious compromise
on Tibet.

The Dalai Lama spoke out on the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan
uprising. After the Chinese military crushed the rebellion, the Dalai
Lama was forced to flee across the Himalayas to India. Since then, he
said, Beijing has suppressed Tibet?s religion, culture, language and
identity to near extinction. He charged that Chinese authorities viewed
the Tibetan people as ?criminals deserving to be put to death.?

China has invested heavily in recent years to improve the quality of
life in Tibet. But that is canceled out by harsh restrictions on the
Tibetans? rights. That repression has increased significantly after
anti-China riots erupted in Tibet?s capital last year.

We accept that Beijing must protect lives and property from unrest. But
it responded to the 50th anniversary with force rather than reason by
sending in thousands more troops, ordering monks to stay indoors and
cutting off cellphone and Internet services. That level of repression is
intolerable and unsustainable.

Beijing insists that the Dalai Lama?s real plan is to break Tibet away
from China, even though he has repeatedly endorsed autonomy. It is long
past time for serious talks to test the Dalai Lama?s intentions.

The revered, 73-year-old leader has so far managed to deflect demands
for independence. But Tibetans are increasingly frustrated. And when the
Dalai Lama dies, Beijing will lose its best interlocutor for resolving
the dispute peacefully.

This week, China?s president, Hu Jintao, called for building a ?Great
Wall? of stability in Tibet. But without serious negotiations, and a
political solution, there will be only instability ? just what Beijing?s
leaders fear.
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