Tags: China | Tiananmen | anniversary | DalaiLama

Dalai Lama Prays for Tiananmen Dead, Urges Democracy in China

Wednesday, 04 June 2014 02:48 PM

The Dalai Lama urged China on Wednesday to embrace democracy and offered prayers to the protesters killed at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, as the world marks the 25th anniversary of the crackdown.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, whom China regards as a dangerous separatist, said democracy is the source of "true peace and stability", in rare political comments made as he teaches Buddhist students this week in the northern Indian hill station of Dharamsala.

"I offer prayers for those who died for freedom, democracy and human rights," he said in a statement posted on his website to mark the Tiananmen anniversary.

"These values are the foundation of a free and dynamic society. They are also the source of true peace and stability."

Hundreds of people were killed in Beijing on the night of June 3-4, 1989, when soldiers crushed peaceful student-led protests demanding political reforms.

"While great progress has been made to integrate China into the world economy, I believe it is equally important to encourage China to enter the mainstream of global democracy," the Dalai Lama said.

"This will help China to gain the trust and respect of the rest of the world."

Although the Dalai Lama is revered on the world stage, Beijing denounces the Nobel Peace Prize winner as a separatist engaged in a plot to split China.

The Buddhist leader, who fled his homeland for India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, insists he only wants peaceful autonomy for Tibet.

Beijing has ruled the Himalayan region since 1951, a year after invading, and considers it an integral part of Chinese territory.

The Dalai Lama's comments come ahead of the exiled Tibetan government's renewed push for its "Middle Way" approach for greater autonomy for Tibetans within China, including handing Tibetans decision-making positions in the region.

Lobsang Sangay, leader of Tibet's exiled government, is expected to launch a media campaign Thursday to promote greater awareness of the approach, in a bid to pile global pressure on China to allow genuine autonomy or self-governing in Tibet.

Sangay, a Harvard graduate, was elected in 2011 to a new position of prime minister in exile after the Dalai Lama gave up his political duties.

The new campaign is also an attempt to halt a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans in desperate protests against what they view as Chinese oppression.

Since China launched a crackdown on demonstrations in the region in 2008, some 130 Tibetans have set themselves on fire.


© AFP 2018

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Wednesday, 04 June 2014 02:48 PM
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