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Dalai Lama: Tibetans 'suffering' under China

 Tibetans shout slogans for a free Tibet as they participate in a march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese ru...
 The Dalai Lama greets media personnel, unseen, before a press conference at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Chin...
 A novice Tibetan monk stands near a banner with a portrait of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India...
 Tibetans greet the Dalai Lama, unseen, as he leaves the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. China has overseen a "brutal...
 Kelsang, a two and a half year old boy, (only name given)  stands at a fence during a march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan...
 Hundreds of Tibet supporters chant as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge during a rally marking the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising ...
 A Tibetan woman demonstrates in front of the Federal Palace, the parliament building, in Bern, Switzerland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009.  China has overs...
 An image of the Dalai Lama is carried before hundreds of Tibet supporters as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge during a rally marking the 50th an...

APTOPIX India Tibet China

Tibetans shout slogans for a free Tibet as they participate in a march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese ru...

India Tibet China

The Dalai Lama greets media personnel, unseen, before a press conference at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Chin...

APTOPIX India Tibet China

A novice Tibetan monk stands near a banner with a portrait of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India...

India Tibet China

Tibetans greet the Dalai Lama, unseen, as he leaves the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharmsala, India, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. China has overseen a "brutal...

APTopix Germany China Tibet

Kelsang, a two and a half year old boy, (only name given) stands at a fence during a march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan...

Tibet Protests

Hundreds of Tibet supporters chant as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge during a rally marking the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising ...

APTopix Switzerland Tibet Protests

A Tibetan woman demonstrates in front of the Federal Palace, the parliament building, in Bern, Switzerland, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. China has overs...

APTOPIX Tibet Protests

An image of the Dalai Lama is carried before hundreds of Tibet supporters as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge during a rally marking the 50th an...

Life for Tibetans under Chinese rule has been "hell on earth," the Dalai Lama said, attacking Beijing in a speech to mark 50 years since the failed uprising that forced him into exile.
The unusually harsh rhetoric Tuesday from the Nobel Peace laureate, who accused the Chinese government of treating his people "like criminals deserving to be put to death," highlighted the widening gulf between the two sides since last year when violence flared in the region and talks broke down.
"These 50 years have brought untold suffering to the land and people of Tibet," the 73-year-old Buddhist spiritual leader told some 2,000 Tibetan exiles gathered to commemorate the 1959 rebellion.
Beijing, which accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from China and fomenting the recent violence, denounced his speech as "lies" and underlined the development it had brought to the vast Himalayan plateau.
The Dalai Lama's 30-minute speech in Dharmsala, the two-street town perched in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas where he set up his headquarters in exile, was a systematic indictment of Chinese rule in Tibet.
Decades of China's communist experiments, particularly the violent xenophobic Cultural Revolution, "thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on earth," he said, adding that these campaigns led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans.
Tibet's unique religion, culture and language are "nearing extinction," he said.
It was only the exile of 100,000 Tibetans to India that had allowed them to preserve some remnants of their heritage, he later told reporters.
"Now 50 years past, at least in this planet there is one place where Tibetan Buddhist studies and Tibetan Buddhist culture continues with full freedom," he said.
The Dalai Lama also charged Beijing with overseeing a "brutal crackdown" in Tibet since protests shook the Himalayan region.
Last year, a peaceful commemoration of the 1959 uprising by monks in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa erupted into anti-Chinese rioting four days later and spread to surrounding provinces _ the most sustained and violent demonstrations by Tibetans in decades.
"Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear, and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them," he said.
On Tuesday, Lhasa was calm but tense, as was the rest of the region. Residents and businesses reported seeing increased patrols of armed police throughout the city. Tibetans and travelers in western China said police stepped up identity checks.
After the Dalai Lama's speech, thousands of young Tibetans took to the streets of Dharmsala, chanting, "China out!" and "Tibet belongs to Tibetans!"
Another 1,000 protesters marched peacefully in New Delhi, while other protests were held in Nepal; Seoul, South Korea; New York; London; Berlin; Vienna; Bern, Switzerland; Taiwan; and Canberra, the capital of Australia.
While Beijing claims Tibet has been part of Chinese territory for centuries, Tibet was a deeply isolated theocracy until 1951, when Chinese troops invaded Lhasa. Tuesday's anniversary marked the March 10, 1959, riots inside Tibet against Chinese rule that led to a crackdown and, later that month, the Dalai Lama's dramatic flight across the Himalayas and into exile.
In Washington, the Obama administration said it respects China's territorial claim to Tibet, but expressed concern about the situation in Tibet and urged China to hold talks with the Dalai Lama.
Beijing has long said it brought modernity to a region where monks and wealthy landowners had long ruled over huge tracts of land worked by slaves and serfs.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Tibet went through democratic reforms in 1959, and that Tibetans had been freed from slavery.
The Dalai Lama also lamented the failure of talks with Beijing and held little hope for any progress while China's authoritarian regime remained in place.
While his comments were strong for a man known for his deeply pacifist beliefs, he also urged that any change come peacefully and reiterated his support for the "Middle Way," which calls for significant Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule, not independence.
"I have no doubt that the justice of Tibetan cause will prevail if we continue to tread a path of truth and nonviolence," he said.