Probably in an effort to calm tensions before the Olympic torch runs through Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa, the Chinese government released over 1,100 people alleged to have been involved in March’s unrest, which brought the world’s attention to the country and left several dozen people dead.
As opening day of the Beijing Olympics approaches, the Chinese government and official media have intensified their attacks on the Dalai Lama, blaming him for the recent violent demonstrations in Tibet. Pico Iyer, whose new book is “The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama,” talks with Truthdig’s Jon Wiener about this intercultural conflict and about the Dalai Lama himself.
Despite disapproval from French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, which is working on improving relations with the Chinese government, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe has championed the Dalai Lama by making the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader an honorary citizen of the City of Light.
China has allowed a group of foreign journalists an escorted visit to Tibet. News reports from non-state sources are coming out of Lhasa for the first time since protests and riots began two weeks ago. One described part of the city as a “war zone.”
Even though certain inherently prohibitive logistics make it impossible for the Dalai Lama to resign from his position as Tibet’s spiritual leader, that’s what he’s threatening to do insofar as he can if the tensions and violence in Tibet continue to escalate.