- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NARITA, JAPAN (AP) - The Dalai Lama on Wednesday criticized lengthy prison terms given a day earlier by China to three people for arson attacks during rioting last year in the Tibetan capital, calling the rulings politically motivated.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said the court decision reflected the Chinese Communist Party’s control of people “without the rule of law.”

“Actually, everything is controlled by the party. So, all these sentences were politically reasoned,” he said during a brief stop at Tokyo’s Narita airport on his way to Los Angeles. “We have great reservation about these sentences.”

The court gave one defendant the death penalty with a two-year reprieve for helping to lead attacks on two clothing stores that killed six people, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said. Such sentences are usually commuted to life in prison. Another was sentenced to life in prison and a third was given 10 years.

Last year’s violence in Lhasa killed 22 people, Chinese officials say. State media say more than 950 people have been detained in the ensuing crackdown and dozens of people sentenced for their part in the protests, which led to the most sustained uprising against Chinese rule in decades.

The Dalai Lama accused Beijing of concealing evidence in the trial, and demanded the government investigate further and disclose the details.

Beijing says the protests were part of a violent campaign by the Dalai Lama and his supporters to throw off Chinese rule in Tibet and sabotage last August’s Beijing Olympics. The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet 50 years ago amid an uprising against China, has denied the accusation, saying he seeks only significant autonomy for Tibet under continued Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama said he will mainly visit universities in Los Angeles during his U.S. trip.

He said he is planning another U.S. visit in the autumn and hopes to meet then with President Barack Obama, though China is certain to oppose any contact between the two.

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