by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 12, 2012
The Dalai Lama said Monday that China is more interested in criticising him than finding the reason behind a spate of Tibetan self-immolations threatening to mar the Communist Party's leadership change.
The comments came as two more Tibetans died in separate self-immolations Monday, the eighth and ninth people to have set themselves on fire in the last week in protest at Chinese rule.
In what are thought to be his first remarks on the issue since the Communist Party congress began in Beijing, the Dalai Lama told reporters in Japan that Beijing is not looking "seriously" at the protests taking place across the country.
"The Chinese government should investigate the cause (of the incidents). China does not look into it seriously and tries to end (the incidents) only by criticising me," the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said, according to a Kyodo News report in Japanese.
Nine Tibetans have now set themselves on fire in the last week, with two more dying on Monday in Tongren, a county in northwest China's Qinghai province, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Sixty-nine people have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule of Tibet since 2009, of whom 54 have died, the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile said before the latest incidents.
The immolations have gained pace in recent months, particularly in the past week as the Communist Party opened its sensitive congress on Thursday to pass the baton of power to the next generation of party apparatchiks.
The party has sought to project an image of national unity during the highly stage-managed gathering amid unrest in minority areas.
The escalating protests have been aimed at undercutting the facade, according to representatives of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India.
On the sidelines of the congress on Friday, officials from the Tibetan Communist Party angrily denounced the Dalai Lama and overseas Tibetan "separatists" for orchestrating the immolations to breed unrest.
"The Dalai Lama clique and overseas Tibetan separatists have been sacrificing other people's lives for their own secret political aims," said Losang Gyaltsen, vice-chairman of the Tibet region's government.
The Dalai Lama is nearing the end of a 12-day visit to Japan, a country to which he is a regular visitor and where he has a sizeable following.
He was in Okinawa in the country's far south on Monday, but was due to return to Tokyo on Tuesday, where he was expected to speak to a cross-party group of parliamentarians.
Tokyo formally recognises Beijing's position that Tibet is a part of China and in a nod to this, the government bars its officials from meeting the Dalai Lama during his frequent visits.
But China criticises Japan for allowing the visits, which it says give the saffron-robed monk a platform for views it considers unacceptable.
During a trip in November last year the 77-year-old said Tibetans faced "cultural genocide" under Beijing's hardline rule, which he blamed for a wave of self-immolations at the time.
"Chinese communist propaganda creates a very rosy picture. But actually, including many Chinese from mainland China who visit Tibet, they all have the impression things are terrible," he told journalists in Tokyo.
"Some kind of policy, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place."
Tibetan anger at Beijing's control has simmered for decades but burst into violent rioting against Chinese rule in the Tibet regional capital Lhasa and across the Tibetan heartland in southwestern China in March 2008.
The violence left 20 people dead, according to the government, while exiled Tibetans put the figure at 203, and prompted a massive security clampdown across Tibetan areas that remains to this day.
Many Tibetans accuse China of cultural, religious and political oppression. They are also angered by Beijing's repeated vitriol directed at the Dalai Lama, who is deeply revered by Tibetans.
China insists most Tibetans are happy and touts its efforts to bring economic development to the region.
Despite the coming leadership change, political analysts say no rethink of Tibet policy is expected as Beijing fears any hint of indecision could further embolden restive minority groups.
China News from SinoDaily.com
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