In the most serious unrest to shake the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in years, Buddhist monks and other ethnic Tibetans tangled with Chinese security forces last week, in clashes that left at least 20 protesters dead. The Tibetan demonstrations began peacefully as a protest against Chinese laws restricting Buddhist monks, but they soon degenerated into attacks on Chinese-owned businesses. China, which has occupied Tibet since 1950, responded with a harsh crackdown, arresting at least 1,000 people.
The Chinese government accused the Dalai Lama of engineering the riots from Dharamsala, India, where his government in exile has been based since 1959. The Tibetan spiritual leader called that allegation absurd and said he has always urged Tibetans to demonstrate peacefully. Underscoring that claim this week, he threatened to resign as head of the Tibetan government in exile if his countrymen’s violence continued.
Something big is stirring in Tibet, said The Washington Post in an editorial. Monks and other Tibetans realize that these few months ahead of the Beijing Olympics may be “their best chance to gain the world’s interest,” and the Chinese surely understand that, too. The Dalai Lama, for his part, “has acknowledged Chinese rule” and seeks only “greater cultural independence for his people.” A dialogue with him is China’s best hope for settling this conflict before it spirals out of control.
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Time is running out, said Madhur Singh in Time.com. As China continues to snub the Dalai Lama, more Tibetans are becoming radicalized. Young protesters are clearly tiring of the moderation and renunciation of violence by the Dalai Lama and other exiled leaders. They are ready for confrontation. “The current uprising is a sign that the prospects for a compromise with Beijing are dimming.”
That’s why the U.S. will have to step in, said the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The U.S. happens to be uniquely situated to mediate, as President Bush has both received the Dalai Lama at the White House and announced that he will attend the Olympic Games despite Chinese repression in Tibet. Washington can encourage dialogue “quietly and subtly—with pressure on the Chinese to show restraint and on the Tibetans to favor nonviolence.”
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