VETERAN LEADERS URGE CHINA TO TALK TO DALAI LAMA
April 2, 2008
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – A group of former world leaders including Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter urged China on Wednesday to negotiate with the Dalai Lama to find a peaceful solution to political unrest in Tibet.
Violent anti-government protests broke out in the Tibetan capital last month. The demonstrations have spread to Tibetan areas of western China and Tibetan exiles have held protests around the world.
‘The Chinese government should hear their voices, understand their grievances and find a non-violent solution,’ the group, called the Elders, said in a statement.
‘That solution is offered by our friend and brother His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has never sought separatism and has always chosen a peaceful path. We strongly urge the Chinese government to seize the opportunity he provides for meaningful dialogue.’
Chinese leaders accuse the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, of orchestrating the wave of demonstrations from his home in exile in India where he has lived since a failed 1959 uprising against Communist rule.
China says his intent is to disrupt the Beijing Olympics, which run from Aug. 8-24, and ultimately to win independence for Tibet.
The 72-year-old Dalai Lama, who has denied organising the protests, has repeatedly said his goal is to achieve greater autonomy but not independence for Tibet.
The Elders group was formed last year in an effort to use the influence of more than a dozen Nobel laureates and former world leaders to reduce conflict and despair around the globe.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan are members of the group alongside Mandela, the icon of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, and former U.S. President Carter.
Each of the four has won the Nobel Peace prize.
Source : Reuters