David Batty and agencies
Tokyo: The Dalai Lama has blamed China’s “ruthless and illogical” policy towards Tibet for the recent deaths of monks who set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing’s rule.
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader also called on the Chinese government to change its repressive policies in Tibet, which include a crackdown on monasteries and the Tibetan language.
“For their own interest, not just the interest for certain sort of problem here and there, but for the whole country’s sort of future, they have to act [with a] realistic sort of policy,” said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
At least nine Tibetan clerics or former clerics have self-immolated in south-western China over seven months in protest against Chinese rule. Five of them have died of their injuries. Earlier this month a nun became the most recent casualty and the first woman to die.
The Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamshala, which has accused China of an official policy of cracking down on religious institutions, called for the international community to urge Beijing to open a dialogue on its policies in Tibet and traditionally Tibetan regions of western China.
“Actually, the local leader must look what’s the real causes of death,” the Dalai Lama told reporters in Tokyo during his visit to victims of the tsunami that stuck Japan in March. “It’s their own sort of wrong policy, ruthless policy, illogical policy.”
Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of encouraging the immolations. The practice was unknown among clerics until two years ago, when one monk burnt himself to death in Sichuan province’s Aba county, the predominantly Tibetan area in which most of the deaths have taken place.
Amnesty International has said the spate of self-immolations “indicates a new level of desperation” on the part of Tibetans.