Dalai Lama Says Repression Increasing During Games

By Helene Fouquet, Bloomberg, Aug 22, 2008

Paris, France -- The Dalai Lama said Chinese authorities had stepped up repression against Tibetans during the Olympic Games in Beijing and that he will seek a meeting with Chinese leaders to discuss his country's future.

The Buddhist spiritual leader said that the Tibetan government in exile would meet in September and he expected that his envoys would renew talks with Chinese officials on Tibet in October, according to his French spokesman, Matthieu Ricard.

``His holiness expressed his concern over the present situation in Tibet as, while the Olympic Games are going on, there is a form of extremely brutal repression going on in Tibet, Ricard said. ``The Olympic truce is thus some sort of fable.''

The Dalai Lama spoke of the Chinese crackdown in a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Roqueredonde, France where he inaugurated a Buddhist temple. Ricard attended the meeting as a translator.

President Nicolas Sarkozy declined to meet the Dalai Lama during his 12-day visit to France, bowing to pressure from China. Its ambassador in Paris, Kong Quan, warned in July that France would face ``serious consequences'' if the president met the Buddhist leader during the visit.

Sarkozy's Greetings

Jampal Chosang, the Buddhist spiritual leader's spokesman in Europe, told reporters that Sarkozy ``definitely sent his greetings'' through his wife.

Kouchner, who has known the Dalai Lama personally for almost two decades, ``clearly restated'' his support for ``the Tibetan cause.'' Ricard said. The Dalai Lama would ``always be welcome in France'' Kouchner said as he left the Buddhist Temple.

The meeting came amid press reporters that the Chinese may be carrying out further crackdowns against ethnic Tibetans. The Dalai Lama released a statement yesterday saying he had been misquoted by French newspaper Le Monde, which reported that he confirmed that 140 people had been killed by Chinese forces on Aug 18.

The Dalai Lama said in yesterday's statement that there had been no way to confirm reports of the shooting in an area of China near the Tibetan border and that his allies were trying to investigate the reports of new violence. The Chinese have ruled over Tibet for more than half a century.

Meeting Lawmakers

As part of his visit to France the Dalai Lama met with French lawmakers on Aug 13. He ``spoke of his frustrations and concerns about the continuation of repression in Tibet,'' Axel Poniatowski, a deputy from Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement Party, told reporters. ``His goal is to not be isolated as he tries to push the Chinese toward negotiations.''

To avoid angering China by according too great an importance to the Dalai Lama's meeting with lawmakers, his French hosts arranged for him to enter and leave through a side door of the 17th century palace, where he met with about 30 senators and deputies in a private office instead of in one of the stately reception rooms.