The Dalai Lama: Under China's brutal regime, my people are living in hell on earth

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Today is the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan people's peaceful uprising against Communist China's repression. Since last March, widespread peaceful protests have erupted across the whole of Tibet. Most of the participants were youths born after 1959, who have not seen or experienced a free Tibet. Having occupied Tibet, the Chinese Communist government carried out a series of repressive and violent campaigns. They thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on earth. The immediate result of these campaigns was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans.

These 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet. Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them. Today, the religion, culture, language and identity, which generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives, are nearing extinction; in short, the Tibetan people are regarded like criminals deserving to be put to death.

The continued insistence that we accept Tibet as having been a part of China since ancient times is not only inaccurate but also unreasonable. We cannot change the past whether it was good or bad. Distorting history for political purposes is incorrect. We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People's Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity.

Looking back on 50 years in exile, we have witnessed many ups and downs. However, the fact that the Tibet issue is alive and the international community is taking growing interest in it is indeed an achievement. Seen from this perspective, I have no doubt that the justice of Tibet's cause will prevail, if we continue to tread the path of truth and non-violence.

In our efforts to realise the cause of Tibet, we should craft our future vision and strategy by learning from our past experience... I always say that we should hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

Taken from the Dalai Lama's speech on the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising against Chinese rule and his flight into exile in Dharamsala, India

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