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China Accuses Dalai Lama of Starting Violent Riots

BY Admin  March 18, 2008 at 1:50 PM EST

The Dalai Lama at a press conference in India

“There is ample fact — and we also have plenty of evidence — proving that this incident was organized, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique,” Wen said during an annual news conference.

The Dalai Lama denied the charges, urged his followers to use non-violence Tuesday and said he would resign as leader of Tibet’s exiles if the unrest worsened.

“Violence is almost suicide. Even if 1,000 Tibetans sacrifice their lives, it will not help,” the Dalai Lama told reporters in Dharamshala. “If things are getting out of control … resignation is the only option.”

During demonstrations led by Tibetan Buddhist monks that began last week in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, Chinese banks and shops were burned, prompting a crackdown by Chinese police.

The Chinese government has said 13 “innocent civilians” have been killed by Tibetan mobs, while the Dalai Lama’s aids say 100 Tibetans are confirmed dead with 19 of those shot by Chinese police, Agence France-Presse reported. The unrest has spread into neighboring provinces.

The Dalai Lama also opposed calls by Tibetans for a boycott of the summer Olympic Games.

“We should not develop anti-Chinese feelings. We must live together side by side. In Tibet, Han Chinese and Tibetans can live happily,” he said. But he also warned that Chinese agents could have played a role in escalating the violence in an attempt to discredit him.

The protests focused attention again on China’s human rights record, which has been a concern for potential sponsors and partners for the Beijing Olympics in August. The country’s tight control of information and the press has also hampered independent reporting on the events in Lhasa.

The United States, Russia, Australia and the European Union have all ruled out the possibility of boycotting the games, but the United States did call for China to hold direct talks with the Dalai Lama.

“I do think that his statements point out the fact that he is not arguing for independence or separation from China. Quite the opposite, he is arguing for dialogue with the Chinese,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.