Dalai Lama threatens to quit as leader

Dharmsala, March 18:

The Dalai Lama threatened today to step down as leader of Tibet’s government in exile if violence committed by Tibetans in his homeland spirals out of control.

Demonstrations in Tibet turned increasingly violent last week, and the Dalai Lama, speaking to reporters, urged Tibetans to show restraint. He said, “If things become out of control his only option will be to completely resign.” While the situation inside Tibet remains unclear, much of the violence late last week appears to have been committed by Tibetans attacking ethnic Han Chinese. In the days since then, worries have grown that Chinese troops trying to reassert control over Lhasa were exacting retribution against the Tibetans.

Later, one of the Dalai Lama’s top aides clarified his comments. “If the Tibetans were to choose the path of violence he would have to resign because he is completely committed to nonviolence,” Tenzin Taklha said. “He would resign as the political leader and head of state, but not as the Dalai Lama. He will always be the Dalai Lama.”

The Dalai Lama also called on Tibetan exiles, currently on a protest they say

will take them from India all the way to Lhasa, to stop their march at the border. “Will you get independence? What’s the use?” he said.

EU call to boycott Olympic opening:

BERLIN: The president of the European Union’s Parliament says politicians should consider staying away from the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, if the violence continues in Tibet. Hans-Gert Poettering told Deutschlandfunk Radio on Tuesday that “all options should be kept open” about the 2008 Olympic Games, but he urged politicians who plan to attend the opening ceremony to “consider, if the violence continues, whether it would be responsible to make such a trip.” He also urged China’s leadership to “do everything possible to reach reconciliation in Tibet, so that the violence will stop and the Olympic Games will have a chance.” — AP