News / Asia

Dalai Lama Urges China to Embrace Democracy on Tiananmen Anniversary

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama laughs during his annual teaching for Tibetan school and college students at the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharmsala, India, June 4, 2014.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama laughs during his annual teaching for Tibetan school and college students at the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharmsala, India, June 4, 2014.
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama marked the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing on Wednesday by urging China to embrace democracy and offering prayers for the protest “martyrs.”
The Dalai Lama, reviled by Beijing as a separatist, made the rare comments on the June 4, 1989, violence at a prayer meeting two years after he renounced politics.
“I offer my prayers for those who died for freedom, democracy and human rights,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said according to a statement posted on his web site (
“While great progress has been made to integrate into the world economy, I believe it is equally important to encourage China to enter the mainstream of global democracy,” he added.
Initiatives for China, a Washington-based group that campaigns for a peaceful democratic transition in China, earlier released the same statement together with the text of prayers led by the Dalai Lama remembering the Tiananmen victims.
“In this anniversary of China's young martyrs, let us pray that the Chinese leaders of today would turn their hearts away from fear and defensiveness, that they would reach out to the victims and victims' families, and repent of the massacre of China's youth,” the Buddhist religious leader said.
Comments condemned

China's Foreign Ministry condemned the comments.
“Everyone is clear about who the Dalai [Lama] is. His statement has ulterior motives,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
Despite his global renown, the 78-year-old Dalai Lama is viewed by Beijing's communist leadership as a dangerous “splittist” who espouses violence. He denies the charges, saying he only wants genuine autonomy for his homeland.
China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since troops marched in in 1950. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.
The Tibetan government in exile, headed by Lobsang Sangay, will hold a seminar on Thursday in Dharamsala, its base in north India, outlining its so-called Middle Way Approach that seeks to bring autonomy to Tibet through peaceful change.

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Comment Sorting
by: Wangchuk from: NY
June 05, 2014 9:43 AM
Democracy for China! Freedom for Tibet!

by: a Chinese teacher from: China
June 05, 2014 5:58 AM
i'm in support of Jaay from: London,and want to say to Dean from: New York that what you have said has nothing to do with this example. and i think you need to learn more about the election of Tibetan spiritual leader, which is different from that in England and Spain. There is also one point for you to remember:every coin has 2 sides, so there is no exception for China's governess in Tibet. on the one hand, there is no denying the fact that under China's governess, Tibet enjoys rapid growth and people's lives are improved completely and on the other, Tibetan culture is somewhat affected , but it is within limits, not like the damage caused by the US to the Indian culture. Do you think so?

by: lincon from: east
June 04, 2014 9:37 PM
Dalai Lama, please do not say you are a buddist, what you do show you are just a politician. a real buddist who love the peace, people and the word will never tell a lie.

by: Jaay from: London
June 04, 2014 8:57 AM
Very strange given that the rule of Lamas in Tibet prior to 1950 was perhaps the most un-democratic system on earth. In fact it was feudalism which by today's standards would be called slavery. It's ironic that the communist China forced Tibet to abolish such a horrific system.

The fact is that today people in Tibet are more free to do what they like (including owning property, traveling, working for whatever they want including for themselves) than they have ever been under the reign of local lamas.

Therefore it sounds very strange to hear this from Mr. Dalai who has NEVER been demoratically lected or even hadto work through his career (as he would have done in the Chinese CCP).
In Response

by: Wangchuk from: NY
June 05, 2014 9:42 AM
Thank you for your comments, comrade Jaay. The 50 Cent Party is alive & well on this forum. Please go to Lhasa and hold up a sign for human rights, democracy or freedom and then count the seconds it takes for the Chinese police to arrest you. If your Tibetan, they will torture you. If you're a foreigner, they will deport you.

That's assuming you can get into Tibet. Many foreigners & journalists are denied entry to Tibetan areas. Tibetans face restrictions when traveling within Tibet and are always searched at police checkpoints while Han Chinese are ignored. There are thousands of cameras monitoring Tibetans. Tibet under the CCP is a police state where Tibetans are treated as second class citizens.

By the way, the Tibetan-Govt-in-Exile does have a democratically-elected leader but Tibetans inside Tibetan don't have democracy or freedom.
In Response

by: Tsering from: Australia
June 04, 2014 11:02 PM
Time is changing, perhaps we Tibetans are also not being left behind, so as Chinese. As rulers come and go, Tibetans will have our own country again and hopefully it won't cause anything from both Tibetans and Chinese.
In Response

by: Jaay from: London
June 04, 2014 12:38 PM
I think I explained my point pretty well. I am not drawing any legal concepts from it but saying that it simply doesn't look very morally credible coming from a guy who is not elected and has nothing to do with democracy in any way.

I would give much more credibility if such remarks would be coming from, say, Switzerland i.e. countries and societies which have an anctual track record of achievements in their political system.
In Response

by: Dean from: New York
June 04, 2014 12:03 PM
Obviously you missed the point. The point is you can have a democratic system and still have a non-democratically-elected (spiritual) leader like the kings and queens in countries like England, Japan, Spain, and others. The worst thing that China did to Tibet is the almost complete destruction of the Tibetan culture, which, by the way, is thousands of years old.

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