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Dalai Lama Expresses 'Little Hope' for Progress With China on Tibetan Issue


Tibet's exiled spiritual leader is expressing frustration in his latest assessment of the situation in his homeland. The Dalai Lama's statement came on the 51st anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

In what is being described as a somewhat uncharacteristically angry and downcast tone, the Dalai Lama is painting a grim picture of contemporary Tibet, where he has not been for more than a half century.

The 74-year-old monk, speaking from his home in exile in northeast India, accused China of having a policy to "to deliberately annihilate Buddhism".

He accuses authorities of keeping monks and nuns in prison-like conditions - not allowing them to study and practice their religion - what he says is essentially transforming monasteries into museums.

He expressed pessimism that Tibetan aspirations for autonomy could be achieved soon, in light of previous failed negotiations with the authorities in Beijing. However, he offered an invitation to Chinese government officials working in the Tibetan region to visit Tibetans living outside China to hear their aspirations, first-hand.

His speech in the town of Dharamsala, in the Himalayan foothills, marked the 51st anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of advocating independence for Tibet and causing unrest in the region, which the Chinese government considers an integral historical part of China.

The Dalai Lama also made remarks concerning another minority in China that is likely to further fuel Chinese official criticism of him. He expressed solidarity with Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic group, saying they face increased oppression. He referred to Xinjiang, their traditional region, as East Turkestan, the name used by pro-independence Uighur exiles.

The Dalai Lama has been in India since 1959, when the failed uprising prompted him to flee his homeland.

Largely peaceful protests supporting the Tibetan cause were held in India and Nepal. Police in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, say they made a small number of arrests of Tibetan exiles.

Heavy security is reported in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

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