TENZIN Gyatso, who since 1959 has been on the run in India following a rebellion in the Chinese Autonomous Region of Tibet, has slammed Beijing during a visit to Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013.
The 14th Dalai Lama, who though exiled in Dharamsala is regarded by many as the head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet, described China as a guest that had arrived without a proper invitation and armed with a gun.
He made the comments during a visit to Londonderry on the invitation of local man Richard Moore, the founder of the Children in Crossfire charity, who was blinded after being shot in the face by a soldier during the Northern Ireland Troubles.
“The problem in Tibet is not a matter of civil war,” said Mr Gyatso, “but that a new guest has come without a proper invitation, armed with a gun.”
He continued: “Once that guest arrived, every Tibetan’s way of life came under threat. We have a rich cultural heritage, a culture of peace and compassion, which we want to preserve.
“Yes, the Tibet issue is linked to what happens in China. And things are changing there so, yes, we can hope. The last prime minister Wen Jiabao often spoke of the need for change and even the need for democracy.
“In the early 1980s Hu Yaobang went to Tibet. I met him in 1954 when he was head of the Chinese Communist Youth. He visited Lhasa in 1980 and publicly apologised for what had happened in Tibet.”
Mr Yaobang eventually graduated to succeed Deng Xiaoping as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, a reformist credited with introducing a market economy to the country.
Speaking in Londonderry this week, Mr Gyatso, said of Mr Yaobang: “He was someone who followed Deng Xiaoping’s stricture, ‘Seek truth from facts’ and he realistically investigated local conditions.”
Although criticising China as an unwelcome guest who had come to Tibet with a gun, he said he felt the new leadership under Xi Jinping may favour a more open approach to Tibet.
“Some people say the new leadership seem to be taking a cue from Hu Yaobang’s approach, but it’s still too early to say. In the meantime, our Middle Way Approach attracts a lot of support from Chinese writers, thinkers and even ordinary villagers who get to know about it and understand it,” he said.