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Dalai Lama assails China on 50th anniversary of Tibet uprising

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Text by Nina BIDDLE LUNA

Latest update : 2009-03-10

The Dalai Lama said life under Beijing's rule had often been "hell on earth" for Tibetans in a speech on the 50th anniversary of Tibet's failed uprising against China. FRANCE 24 correspondents were held by police after trying to interview Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama marked 50 years in exile on Tuesday by calling for “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet, while urging that China and Tibet work together to end decades of what he said, in one of his harshest attacks on Beijing, had often been “hell on earth” for Tibetans.


Tibet’s 73-year-old spiritual leader spoke to some 10,000 Tibetans in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, where he lives in exile, while Chinese police tightened security in Tibetan areas to stifle any protest. The date of March 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule.


During a brief press conference on Tuesday morning, the Dalai Lama accused China of killing hundreds of thousands of Tibetans over the decades, and asked for autonomy for Tibet. But he also addressed the issue of his successor, a looming issue given his age, declining health and disagreement within the ranks on how Tibet’s fight for freedom should proceed.


“This morning there was a lot of expectation around the subject of the Dalai Lama’s succession ,” says FRANCE 24 correspondent Sébastien Daguerressar, from India. “He had said a few months ago that he would possibly name his successor before dying. Today everyone was hoping for clarification. But that was not given. He just said he would go until the end and it would be up to the Tibetans to choose if the institution of the Dalai Lama should be maintained or not.”

China increases security  in Tibetan areas, reporters stopped


Inside Tibet and other Tibetan areas within China, Chinese riot police braced for protests and blocked access to foreign journalists.


Two FRANCE 24 reporters in Sichuan were briefly arrested when they tried speaking to the owner of a restaurant at his home. Some 15 to 20 police arrived, kicked down the door and took the owner away by force, says FRANCE 24’s Sébastien Le Belzic. “We were questioned for a couple of hours and then let go.”


Fellow FRANCE 24 correspondent Henry Morton adds: “Our driver has been forbidden by the authorities from taking us into any of the Tibetan areas. He will be heavily fined and his taxi confiscated if he does. The Chinese authorities are very keen not to have foreign eyes in the Tibetan areas.”


Meanwhile Tibetans and their supporters held rallies throughout the rest of the world on Monday and Tuesday to mark the sensitive anniversary.

Date created : 2009-03-10