Monday, November 07, 2005

Dalai Lama endorses just wars but not in case of Tibet

Fri Nov 4,11:30 PM ET

Waging war for the cause of freedom can be justified but not in the case of Tibet's dream of autonomy from China, the Dalai Lama told an audience at Stanford University.

During the first of a two-day visit to the university in the state of California, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader Tenzin Gyatso touched on topics ranging from television viewing to abortion, cloning and the idea of just wars.

The allied victory in World War II "saved Western civilization," and conflicts fought in Korea and Vietnam were honorable from a moral standpoint, the 14th Dalai Lama said in answer to questions.

But he ruled out armed struggle for Tibet's grievances with the Chinese government.

"In the case of Tibet versus China, violence is almost like suicide," the Dalai Lama said. "If violence, then bloodshed. Bloodshed means more casualties among the Chinese and, again, more hatred."

"We must follow nonviolent principle so that later we can live happily."

Fighting a war of independence with China would also take a vast arsenal that Tibet lacks, he added.

Tibet's cause enjoys growing support among the Chinese people, but not the government, the Dalai Lama said.

"There are some among us who say our neighbor only understands the language of violence," the Dalai Lama said. "It is easy to say 'jihad,' but actual implementation is very complicated, very hard, and too risky."

The Dalai Lama, 70, has lived in India since he fled from Chinese troops in 1959, basing his government-in-exile in the hill-top northern Indian town of Dharamsala.

The Dalai Lama said Tibet wants to keep its culture, language and spiritual customs autonomous from China but would benefit from close economic ties.

Asked about the US-led invasion of Iraq, he said it would take a few years before it becomes clear whether the US military action was the right course of action.

If handled improperly, the situation in Iraq could go from "today, one (Osama) bin Laden, next few years 10 bin Ladens, then 100 bin Ladens," the Dalai Lama said.

The spiritual leader made his comments during an afternoon session entitled "the heart of nonviolence." Earlier in the day, he led a packed auditorium filled with 7,000 people in a meditation session.

While fielding questions, the Dalai Lama said that there were no clear right or wrong answers to controversial topics such as euthanasia, abortion or genetic cloning.

The issues should be looked at "holistically," with situations evaluated case by case, the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama joked at times. A question about whether to cut television from people's lives prompted him to quip that "society would be more boring."

At one point he smiled, touched his balding, shaved head and remarked: "Less hair, more shine, more wisdom."

He closed the afternoon talk by saying that China was undergoing a transition toward a more open culture and that he has reason to be hopeful for future relations between Beijing and Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent struggle for Tibet, has been pushing for greater autonomy for the Himalayan region, as the head of an unrecognized government and de facto diplomat.

Scheduled to visit Washington DC next week, the Dalai Lama was expected to appeal to US President George W. Bush to lobby China on Tibet's behalf.

The International Campaign for Tibet, a group promoting civil rights for the people of Tibet, said the Dalai Lama was coming to Washington at a "key moment," citing the current Sino-Tibetan dialogue on the territory's future status.

The first-ever talks between the Dalai Lama's envoys and Beijing officials outside Chinese soil were held in the Swiss capital Bern in July.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20051105/wl_asia_afp/ustibetchina&printer=1

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