:Johnson City Press; :Mar 17, 2008; :Today; :11A


The Dalai Lama warns of ‘CULTURAL GENOCIDE’


shops in the fiercest challenge to Beijing’s rule over the region in nearly two decades.

    “Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place,” said the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. He was referring to China’s policy of encouraging the ethnic Han majority to migrate to Tibet, restrictions on Buddhist temples and re-education programs for monks.

    He told reporters in Dharmsala, the north Indian town where Tibet’s self-declared governmentin-exile is based, that an international body should investigate the government’s crackdown on the Lhasa protests.

    Tibet was effectively independent for decades before Chinese communist troops entered in 1950. The latest unrest began March 10 on the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet.

    The protests are an embarrassment for China, coming just weeks before the Beijing Summer Olympics ceremonies kick off with the torch relay, which is set to pass through Tibet.

    Thubten Samphel, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama’s government in exile, said multiple sources inside Tibet had counted at least 80 corpses since the violence broke out Friday. He did not know how many of the bodies were protesters. On Friday, the exiled government said at least 30 protesters had been killed by Chinese authorities and the number could be as high as 100.

    The official Chinese Xinhua News Agency has said at least 10 civilians were burned to death Friday. The figures could not be independently verified because China restricts foreign media access to Tibet.

    In Sichuan province, Tibetan monks and police clashed Sunday in Aba county after the monks staged a protest, said a resident there who refused to give his name. He said one policeman had been killed and three or four police vans had been set on fire.

    The India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy said at least seven people have been shot dead in the county. There was no way of immediately confirming the claim.