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Monday, 17 March, 2008

Cultural genocide in Tibet: Dalai Lama

MCLEODGANJ (HP), Mar 16: The Dalai Lama today accused China of unleashing a "cultural genocide" in Tibet and demanded an impartial international probe into the situation in violence-hit Lhasa.

Addressing his first press conference here in the wake of the violence in the Tibetan Capital since Friday, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said that India has a few limitations as far as China is concerned and was "too cautious" on the Tibet issue.

The Indian Government, the 73 year-old monk said, had "hostile views" on certain actions of Tibetans but "we should not pick up one particular incident". He did not elaborate.

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel peace laureate, demanded an international probe into the Chinese crackdown against protesters in Lhasa, saying "some respected international organizations can find out what the situation is in Tibet and what is the cause."

He said the investigations should be independent and unbiased.

He favoured holding of Beijing Olympics in August, but reminded China that it should play a "good host."

Replying to questions, he said "Tibetans’ protests in Lhasa is borne out of China carrying out a sort of cultural genocide in Tibet intentionally or unintentionally."

On whether he could contain the violence, which, according to Chinese authorities, had claimed 10 lives, he said: "I have no such power.... I do feel helpless."

Expressing concern over China serving an ultimatum to protesters to surrender by Monday midnight, he said "while the Chinese authorities are bent upon crushing the agitation with the help of the Army, Tibetans in Lhasa and other places are equally determined to continue the agitation".

Denying China’s charge that he was behind the violence, the worst since 1989, the Dalai Lama said that he was "completely committed" to non-violence and favoured a "middle path" which he said was also supported by some Chinese officials and scholars, whom he did not name.

On whether he would use his good office to ask his fellow countrymen to halt the protests, he said "the situation in Tibet has become volatile and only a miracle power can control it, not me".

"I have reached a stage of semi-retirement and at age 73, I am looking for full retirement," he said.

The Dalai Lama, who offered prayers before talking to the press, said "we want genuine autonomy and not independence (from China)."

On the death toll in Tibet, he did not give any definite figure claiming that different sources had varying figures which went up to even 100. "I do not know."

He was also of the view that some trusted group should go to Tibet and see how it happened.

Holding that he was being made a "scapegoat" by the Chinese authorities, the Dalai Lama said whether Beijing admitted or not, there was a problem in Tibet.

He said "there is an ancient cultural heritage that is facing serious danger" and that China was imposing "political education" in monasteries there, much to the dislike of the monks.

He said in order to achieve peace, China was using force in Tibet. "They (China) simply rely on using force in order to simulate peace, a peace brought by force using a rule of terror," he said.

The Dalai Lama said he has been receiving phone calls and e-mails from Tibetans asking him not to stop them from continuing with their agitation in Lhasa.

He blamed the local Chinese authorities in Tibet were responsible for the "non-solution" of the problem.

"While educated Chinese very well understand our viewpoint that the only solution to the Tibet issue is by granting genuine autonomy, the local Chinese authorities nourish a negative attitude," he said.

The spiritual leader said he was of the opinion that "genuine harmony and unity between the Tibetans and the Chinese can be established only on the basis of trust and this shall come from the heart".

Recalling the direct talks between his envoys and the Chinese Government, which began in 2002, the Dalai Lama said the negotiations have been facing "difficulties" since February 2006 with Beijing "hardening" its stand on the Tibet issue.(PTI)

Saturday, 8 March, 2008

LoC Kargil (2003) part 2

Ladakh attracts more foreign tourists

Jammu (PTI): World's highest inhabited plateau Ladakh in the Jammu and Kashmir is a foreigners' delight as it receives more tourists from abroad than domestic ones every year.
"Ladakh is hot favorite tourist destination for foreigners. The cold desert - Ladakh is being visited more by the foreign tourists than domestic ones annually," officials of state tourism department said.
A record 50,185 tourists visited Ladakh in 2007, an increase of 16 per cent as compared to 2006's figures of 43900, they said.
"Of them, 28178 were foreign tourists and 22007 domestic. Every year, more foreign tourists visit Ladakh than domestic ones, as foreigners love Gompas and rock carvings dotted across cold desert," tourism officials said.
Similarly, 43,900 tourists visited Ladakh in 2006, out of which 26,070 were foreigners and only 17830 were Indians.
"Low intensity Kargil war and tension between India and Pakistan has had a negative impact on tourism in Ladakh over the years," a Leh-based tour operator said, adding that things are improving now.
Ladakh also known as Moonland, has always attracted foreigners, who had always outnumbered the domestic tourists since 1974, when frontier region of J&K was opened to them.
Wrapped in the golden silence of rocky terrain, Ladakh is a repository of myraid cultures, traditions, heritage spots, scenic sites and religious influences.
It has 30 to 40 odd ancient Gompas, two to three high altitude lakes, two dozen naked peaks for mountaineers, two dozen mountain reeks, markets etc, he said.

LOC Kargil (2003), a movie based on the war that actually happened in Kargil between India and Pakistan