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JPN: China handing down 'death sentence' to Tibetans: Dalai Lama<

02 Nov 2008 6:15 PM
JPN: China handing down 'death sentence' to Tibetans: Dalai Lama

TOKYO, Nov 2 AFP - Chinese rule is handing down a "death sentence" to Tibetans, the Dalai Lama said today, ahead of a meeting to decide Tibet's future approach to Beijing.

The region's exiled leader is on a week-long visit to Japan for talks on spirituality, just as a new round of talks between his envoys and Chinese officials was set to begin, and days after he said he had lost hope of any productive dialogue with Beijing.

"Tibetans are being handed down a death sentence. This ancient nation, withan ancient cultural heritage is dying," he told a group of reporters.

"Today, the situation is almost like a military occupation in the entire Tibetan area.

"It is like we're under martial law. Fear, terror and lots of political education are causing a lot of grievance," he added.

The 73-year old Nobel Peace laureate said he was "semi-retiring" because ofstalled talks with Beijing, and said he would convene a meeting on November 17 to discuss Tibet's future approach to dealing with China.

"We will listen to the people's suggestions, and then I think things will become clear," he said.

"I don't think I will completely retire, but for the time being while dealing with the Chinese central government, I can no longer take full direct responsibility. My position is completely neutral," he said.

"Because we believe in democratic principles, the people should express their real feelings. I should not be hindering their opinions."

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959, is a frequent visitor to Japan, where he enjoys an active following.

During his stay, he is scheduled to give speeches arranged by a Japanese Buddhist group and Tibetan supporters. He will also visit children and monks.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from Beijing through his travels overseas.

The Dalai Lama's stated position has been one of seeking meaningful autonomy for Tibet within China. However, last weekend he said he had all but given up hope of reaching a mutually acceptable solution.

AFP goc=0A