Dalai Lama: Violence Looming, Chinese Citizens Armed

Everyone’s talking about the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the Lhasa uprising and whether something will happen. (OK, by everyone, I mean us). One guy who thinks something will happen? The Dalai Lama (h/t Fool’s Mountain).

In an interview with a German newspaper, the exiled Tibetan leader said of the upcoming anniversary, “I am very worried. Many Chinese citizens have armed themselves, and they are ready to shoot. It is a very tense situation. At any moment there could be an explosion of violence.”

As Fool’s Mountain has already pointed out, the idea that Chinese citizens are stockpiling firearms is a bit hard to swallow, although the Dalai Lama’s fears of violence are clearly still valid given last year’s…events.

Were they riots? Were they a government crackdown on peaceful protests? The Dalai Lama offers an intriguing third option, buried in the German original interview but unearthed by Fool’s Mountain with the help of Google’s webpage translator. Given the unreliability of such translation, I hope a more legitimate translation of the interview will come soon, but even from the robot translation, he appears to be offering a rather unique interpretation of the events of last March:

Let’s look back again to March last year: When the demonstrations were peaceful, the Chinese media did not report about them. Suddenly, on March 14, Chinese houses were set on fire and some Tibetans threw stones. But the Chinese army did not intervene at first, even though they had surrounded the quarter. Do you know why? They had staged these riots and sent the pictures of them around the world.

[Interviewer] Staged?

We have reports from eye witnesses. On March 12 and 13, they have seen Chinese trucks transporting people who were apparently Tibetans, but who were unknown to anybody. They were brought to Lhasa. Some hours later they could be seen setting buildings on fire. The Chinese want crises for which they can blame the Tibetans.

Were the riots staged? Is the Chinese population of Tibet armed with guns, awaiting this sensitive anniversary? We can hope that time will tell, but if the past is any indication, when it comes to Tibet, things only ever get less clear.

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0 thoughts on “Dalai Lama: Violence Looming, Chinese Citizens Armed”

  1. @ 尼克
    I agree. I feel like he’s a politician like anyone else and people should treat him as such. I compare him to a religious organization in the US that lobbies for legislation but still receives tax-exempt status. He can say what he wants but so many in the West will blindly defend him.

    @ the post
    The idea that the riots were staged doesn’t ring true to me. Where does China benefit in that scenario? Seems like the best situation for them is for everything to be quiet and nice in Tibet.


  2. I definitely don’t disagree with the Dalai Lama being a politician – it’s just good PR that he’s not considered this in the West.

    However, there’s definitely a case for the riots being staged if, as was said, the original protests were peaceful. Peaceful protests are easily the most dangerous and damaging things, because it is easy to get support (and protesters) for them and hard to quell them.

    Making it a violent riot, from a peaceful protest, would legitimize the use of force – which, of course, is the easiest way to deal with any protest (assuming a peaceful resolution and giving into demands isn’t an option).

    Say what you want about the Dalai Lama – he is a man of minor influence when compared to the massive machine of the CPC. It’s easy to forget that when we have such a Dalai-sided media in the West, forcing us – the average reader/watcher – to have to try and see through the biases on both sides.


  3. “Were they riots? Were they a government crackdown on peaceful protests?”

    Well, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, right? As far as I’m aware, it’s both. I try to maintain an agnostic attitude on conspiracy theories while generally acting on the assumption that they are false, unless it really makes a big difference. In this case, I think it really only matters to the individuals who are charged with committing crimes. The political issues remain the same either way.


  4. @ Otto, no it doesn’t have to be one or the other; I was presenting that dichotomy satirically because there seem to be a whole lot of people who want you to believe it does have to be one or the other. When it comes to Tibet, in the absence of concrete information, I tend to assume the truth lies somewhere between the screaming crazies on the CCP side and the screaming crazies on the Free Tibet side.

    (Before everyone gets all mad, I’m not calling all CCP supporters or all Free Tibeters “screaming crazies”. Ask yourself if the shoe fits, I guess…)


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