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China to Dalai Lama: ‘Stop playing politics’

China lashed out at the Dalai Lama on Monday, accusing him of being a hypocrite who has deceived the West, as authorities said they had detained suspects in four deadly arson cases in Tibet.
India Tibet
From his residence-in-exile in Dharmsala, India, the Dalai Lama leads a prayer session on Monday for those who died in Tibet.Ashwini Bhatia / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

China lashed out at the Dalai Lama on Monday, accusing him of being a hypocrite who has deceived the West about his political agenda as authorities announced they had detained suspects in four deadly arson cases in Tibet.

China has turned up its attacks against the Dalai Lama, who it has accused of trying to sabotage the Games in an effort to promote Tibetan independence.

A Monday commentary by Xinhua said if the Tibetan leader “really wishes to be a simple Buddhist monk, it’s high time for him to stop playing politics and cheating people, Westerners in particular, with his hypocritical ’autonomy’ claims.”

“The self-proclaimed spiritual leader has obviously forgotten his identity, abused his religion and played too much politics,” the commentary said.

World leaders from the U.S., Australia and the European Union have repeatedly pressed for China to begin talks with the Dalai Lama.

In a recent interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao again repeated that resumption of any dialogue would be contingent on the Dalai Lama giving up “independence” activities and agreeing that Tibet and Taiwan were part of China. But Wen also gave a more nuanced plea, asking the Tibetan leader to “utilize his influence to stop the occurrence of violent activities in Tibet.”

Arrests announced
In the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, Jiang Zaiping, the vice chief of the Public Security Bureau there, said investigators have taken into custody suspects responsible for arson attacks on three shops — including a clothing outlet where five young women were burned to death — and one in nearby Dagze county, the Tibet Daily newspaper reported Monday.

The fires killed a total of 12 people, state media has reported.

Authorities have taken 414 suspects into custody in connection with the anti-government riots, Jiang was quoted as saying. Another 298 people have turned themselves in, he said.

The Tibetan regional government also announced that the families of two of the women killed were given compensation of $28,170, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It did not say how many suspects were involved in the four arson cases or give any other details.

An official who answered the telephone at the Lhasa Public Security Bureau said no senior officials were available to give details. He refused to give his name. It was unclear how many suspects had been directly involved in the four arson cases.

The government has promised to give the same amount of compensation to the families of 18 civilians killed. China’s total number of deaths from the riots also includes one policeman and three people who died jumping through windows to escape arrest. Tibet’s government-in-exile has said that 140 Tibetans were killed during the protests.

“The compensation is a huge sum of money for a rural family like mine. I am grateful to the government’s care and consolation, though nothing could bring my daughter back,” He Hongli, father of 19-year-old He Xinxin, was quoted as saying.

The government has highlighted the burning deaths as a way to show that Tibetans were responsible for the violence that mainly targeted Han Chinese.

The anti-Chinese protests sparked demonstrations in recent weeks by ethnic Tibetans in neighboring provinces, becoming the most sustained challenge to China’s rule in the Himalayan region since 1989.

China has consistently blamed the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, and his supporters for being behind the protests that began March 10 when Tibetan monks from Lhasa’s main monasteries marched to commemorate a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

In the wake of the subsequent crackdown by Chinese forces, Beijing has come under intense international scrutiny over its human rights policies, causing embarrassment to China as it prepares to host the summer Olympic Games in August.

New Delhi march barred
Meanwhile, Indian police barred several hundred Tibetans from marching Monday to the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, where they planned to submit more than 1.4 million names from an Internet petition calling on China to act with restraint in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, Tibetans’ exiled spiritual leader, lives in India along with tens of thousands of Tibetans. Indian authorities have let them protest peacefully but tried to block demonstrations that could embarrass China.

Last week, under heavy pressure by foreign governments, China allowed groups of foreign journalists and diplomats to visit Lhasa under close supervision.

During the three-day visit, a group of 30 monks disrupted a government-led tour of Jokhang Temple, shouting that they had no religious freedom and that the Dalai Lama was not responsible for the unrest.

On Monday, Australia said it had been given assurances that those monks would not be harmed, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said.