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A television documentary filmed secretly in Tibet has been honored in a competition recognizing the work of freelance cameramen and camerawomen who gather news in “regions where it is difficult to operate.”

The competition, the Rory Peck Awards, is sponsored by the Rory Peck Trust, an independent London-based charity set up in 1995 to provide help to freelance newsgatherers and relatives of those killed, injured, or persecuted in the course of their work.

The Impact award, the category in which the film “Undercover in Tibet” was a competitor, is given “for freelance footage which raises humanitarian issues and has had an impact internationally or contributed to a change in perception or policy.”

The documentary was one of the top three selected for consideration at the annual event, held on Nov. 13 at the British Film Institute in London.

“Undercover in Tibet,” produced by cameraman Jezza Neumann and interviewer Tash Despa, was filmed over three months from late April 2007. It was first broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4 “Dispatches” program on March 31 this year.

“Once I met Tash and learned about the Tibetan cause, I knew how important this film could be,” Neumann said in an interview. “I feel this film is incredibly valuable, as it is video documentation of issues the Chinese are trying to say don’t exist.”

To make their film, Neumann and Despa traveled through Tibet by car, dodging Chinese police and security patrols and speaking to ordinary Tibetans.

Protecting these contacts was their “main concern,” Neumann said.

True Vision)
 

Though interviews were shot in silhouette, he said, “voices couldn’t be disguised until we returned home, so any footage needed to be hidden on a secret partition of a hard drive, and the tapes destroyed at the earliest opportunity.”

“I also smuggled in a secret camera which I then had to re-wire and assemble once inside Tibet.”

 

 

“At all times, we were in danger of arrest given the equipment we were carrying,” Neumann said. “However, this increased at times. For example, one interviewee got wind of spies in the area we were due to meet in, so we changed the rendezvous at the last minute.”

Each meeting was treated as a “military operation” and would take several days to plan, he added.

Often, the men and women that Neumann and Despa spoke with were victims of abuse by Chinese officials and police.

One was a woman coerced into a painful sterilization without anesthetic for having a child “above quota.” Another was a former prisoner who had been tortured for posting leaflets calling for Tibetan independence. Others were nomads deprived of their livestock, livelihood, and land.

“Nothing is better than the grassland,” a nomad woman tells the filmmakers at one point while standing in the road of a desolate forced-resettlement town.

Painful lives

Another nomad, interviewed inside his bleak concrete apartment, describes high rates of alcoholism and depression among the town’s 300 families.

“We live in terror,” he says.

At another point in the film, the former prisoner, who had been immersed in water by his jailers and subjected to electric shock, breaks down part-way through his interview. “I’m less than half the man I was before the Chinese tortured me,” he says.

Tash Despa, a former Tibetan refugee and now a British citizen, conducted the interviews in his native language. He said that he had been asked by a friend on behalf of the British production company True Vision if he would go back into the region to help make the documentary.

“This was a really good chance to show the world what happened in Tibet, to bring the true story out of Tibet,” Despa said. “So I said, ‘Let’s do it!’”

Despa said that he and Neumann flew first into Hong Kong, where they received a visa, and then flew on into Tibet.

“We went all over Tibet: Lhasa, Amdo,” said Despa, who fled Tibet’s northeastern Amdo region himself in 1996. “We couldn’t go to Kham, because we couldn’t find any contacts to meet with.”

Despa said he hopes that audiences viewing the film will “put pressure on their governments to help Tibet.”

The annual Rory Peck Awards provide a platform for filmmakers to “get their stories out, and to get their point of view out,” said Tina Carr, director of the London-based Rory Peck Trust.

“Lots of people get to see all this, and we get a lot of inquiries. And very often, broadcasters who didn’t know about these films see them and want to show them.”

“I’m absolutely certain [this] will happen with Jezza’s piece,” she said.

Click play to watch the dispatches episode here:

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Speaker of Tibetan parliament-in-exile Karma Choephel

Tibetan exiles worked Tuesday to hammer out a new strategy for their fight against Chinese rule in the region, after the Dalai Lama called for fresh guidance from his followers.
More than 500 prominent Tibetans have gathered at the government in exile’s base in northern India to debate whether to ditch the Dalai Lama’s push for “meaningful autonomy” in favour of a demand for full independence.

B. Tsering, a delegate and president of the Tibetan Women’s Association, said the week of discussions could re-define the movement.

“Everyone feels the big responsibility entrusted to us,” she said after the first sessions of debate. “And there is concern that we are trying to come up with a solid strategic plan in just a few days.
“We are working in groups of 40, hearing representatives express the opinions that they have collected.”

The Tibetan Women’s Association has long supported the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” autonomy policy, but Tsering said it was now time to ask if a new approach was necessary.
“All of us are aware that the Dalai Lama has left no stone unturned in his work and yet he has not had any breakthrough,” she said.

“If at the end of this week the majority feel we should stick to the ‘middle way’, we have to think how we can make it work better. Maybe we have to seek alternatives.”

The Dalai Lama, who is not expected to attend the talks, said earlier this month that the “middle way” had failed, and he was now asking fellow Tibetans how to proceed.

A growing number of young exiles favour a call for independence, but such a policy switch would likely see a sharp drop in international support for their cause — and could also split the community.
Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok, a delegate and member in the parliament in exile, said the meeting, which began Monday, was also focused on the current situation in Tibet.


Prime Minister of Tibetan government in exile, Samdhong Rinpoche (L)

In March, protests against Chinese rule in the capital, Lhasa, erupted into violence that spread to other areas of western China with Tibetan populations.

Tibet’s government in exile said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in the subsequent Chinese crackdown. China has reported police as killing just one “insurgent” and blames Tibetan “rioters” for the deaths of 21 people.

Phuntsok said the Dharamshala talks had already revealed some reluctance to abandon the Dalai Lama’s moderate stance.

“The debate over the ‘middle way’ or independence has started, but changing policy is not easy,” he said. “Perhaps we still have to give more energy to the present approach to see if it can work.”
Phuntsok described the meeting as “good brain-storming” that would result in a clear idea of Tibetan opinion.

The strategy session has no policy-making power — any recommendations would require the approval of the Tibetan parliament — but the prime minister in exile said the outcome would be influential.

“The atmosphere has been rather emotionally charged due to the repression in Tibet and the mixed feelings we have of fear and hope,” Samdhong Rinpoche told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are sincerely committed to democracy, and that means respecting the public opinion that is being sought in this meeting.”

The Dalai Lama was smuggled out of Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, since when thousands of his followers have also fled.

DHARAMSALA, India: Tibetan leaders opened a six-day meeting over the direction of their struggle with China on Monday, after the Dalai Lama, the region’s exiled spiritual leader, expressed frustration over years of fruitless talks with Beijing.

The meeting here in northern India, called by the Dalai Lama, comes after his comments last month bemoaning the lack of any progress by his envoys in talks with the Chinese government since 2002.

Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, called for an “open and frank discussion” and new ideas. Much of the debate is expected to boil down to two main choices: to continue pushing for Tibetan autonomy or beginning a movement for independence.

Rinpoche said in an opening speech to the hundreds of delegates that the meeting may not necessarily lead to a new approach with China and that any new path needs to have “the clear mandate of the people.”

The Dalai Lama was not expected to attend the meetings, said Lobsang Choedak, press officer of the government-in-exile.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama’s envoys to the last round of talks with Beijing said in a statement that they had presented China with a detailed plan on how Tibetans could meet their autonomy needs within the framework of the Chinese Constitution. Their plan says the Constitution “contains fundamental principles on autonomy and self-government” that would allow Beijing to “respond to the uniqueness of the Tibet situation.”

But China apparently rejected the plan and recent “Chinese statements distort the position and proposal” outlined in the paper, the statement said.

Chinese officials said no progress was made in the talks two weeks ago, calling the Tibetan stance “a trick.”

“The Dalai Lama or the Tibetan government-in-exile cannot be held responsible for the failure of the Chinese to respond to our sincere and genuine attempts,” said Lodi Gyari, an envoy of the Dalai Lama who has participated in all eight rounds of talks since 2002.

“The Chinese leadership keeps on saying that the doors to a dialogue are always open but they haven’t shown any willingness to take any step, however small, forward,” he said.

China has dismissed the meeting this week as meaningless, saying the participants do not represent the views of most Tibetans. Beijing says the Dalai Lama and his followers are seeking outright independence from Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama has declined to offer his views on the future of the movement because he said he did not want to tilt the debate in any particular direction.

Karma Chophel, speaker of Parliament in the government-in-exile, said more than 8,000 of 17,000 Tibetans recently surveyed in Tibet said they would follow the Dalai Lama. More than 5,000 said they wanted Tibetan independence, more than twice the number who wanted to continue with the current approach, he said. He did not offer any details about how the survey was conducted.

Hundreds of protesters, including Tibetans, rallied in Washington on Saturday as world leaders met for an emergency economic summit.

Chinese President Hu Jintao was among the leaders of the big, rich and developing countries taking part in the financial summit of the Group of 20 nations.

Outside the summit, the largest protest came from the nearly 200 demonstrators supporting Tibetan independence, AP reported.

According to Washington Times, about 300 demonstrators supporting Tibetan independence marched outside the summit.

They were joined by a smaller group from the spiritual movement Falun Gong in protesting human rights policies of China, which attended the financial meeting at the National Building Museum.

Protesters reportedly chanted “Shame on China” on the outskirts of the perimeter established by police.

From Phayul.com

Zhu Weiqun, Vice-Minister of the United Front Work Department, received a noisy reception during his visit to London, Students for a Free Tibet said. Tibetans and supporters chanted slogans against Zhu and Chinese government at Chatham house at St. James square where Zhu took part in a ’round-table’ discussion on the recent failure of the eighth round of talks.

A Chinese FedEx employee briefly disrupted the protest as he stormed towards the Tibetan protesters in an attempt to provoke the Tibetans into confrontation. He snatched a Tibetan national flag from a Tibetan protester and snapped the flagpole. The Chinese man was warned by the police for his provocative behavior.

Padma Dolma, a Tibetan student, threw herself in front of the Chinese diplomat’s entourage carrying a Tibetan national flag. Four other Tibetans splashed tomato sauce onto the windows of the car in which Zhu was traveling.

A protester splashes tomato sauce on a van carrying Chinese officials in a symbolic representation of bloody killings in Tibet.

The protesters banged the glasses and yelled, “Zhu Weiqun, liar, liar.” Pema Yoko, who took part in the skirmish, said the Tibetans will not stand down to the Chinese government. “We showed the London public that the Chinese government is responsible for the bloodshed and death of hundreds of Tibetans in a brutal crackdown after the protest in Tibet in March this year.”
Zhu Weiqun in the firs ever press conference by China after talks with Tibetan envoys accused the Dalai Lama as being responsible to for the failure to make any progress.

Zhu Weiqun was among the Chinese representatives who met with the Tibetan delegation during the two-day talks in Beijing last week. The Executive vice minister of China’s Central United Front, the Chinese government department in charge of talks with representatives of Dalai Lama, said Monday that no progress was made at recent talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama and accused the exiled leader of trying to split Tibet from China.

“The sovereignty is the most fundamental issue. The Dalai has — by denying Chinese sovereignty over Tibet — been trying to seek a legal basis for his claims of independence or semi-independence over Tibet,” Zhu said at the press conference on Nov 10.

Tibet supporters also condemned the Chinese government’s latest wave of hard-line rhetoric. “To spuriously blame the Tibetan side for the collapse of talks was patently false, but to accuse the Dalai Lama of plotting ‘apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Tibet is both ludicrous and deeply offensive to all Tibetans,” said Terry Bettger, Campaigns Coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet UK. “Rhetoric like this only serves to embarrass Chinese diplomacy on the world stage, and exposes the absolute lack of sincerity the Chinese government have shown to talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys.”

Tibetan Leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama Saturday said in the absence of any positive response from Chinese government to his sincere approach on Tibet issue he would now ask the fellow Tibetan people to decide the future course of action. 

The 73-year old Tibetan leader said he is now loosing faith in dealing with the Chinese government, saying he had already made enough concession and sincere efforts on his part in seeking only greater autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule through his “middle way” policy.

The Tibetan leader, however, added that his “middle-way” approach has received support from increasing number of Chinese scholars and said he still holds faith in the Chinese people and has not given up on efforts to convince them.

The Tibetan leader made the statement during the 48th Founding anniversary celebration of the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) in Dharamsala, which serves as the base to Tibet’s government-in-exile in northern India.

The Tibetan leader’s comments come ahead of a new round of talks between his envoys and Chinese government officials at the end of October.

China has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of leading a campaign to split Tibet from the rest of the country. The Dalai Lama denies the allegations, saying he is only seeking a solution to the Tibet issue within the constitutional framework of the People’s Republic of China.

“So far I have been sincerely pursuing the mutually beneficial Middle-Way policy in dealing with China for a long time now but there hasn’t been any positive response from the Chinese side,” the Dalai Lama said.

A callisthenic display formation by TCV students at the school’s anniversary celebration (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
A callisthenic display formation by TCV students at the school’s anniversary celebration 

“I have now asked the Tibetan government-in-exile, as a true democracy in exile, to decide in consultation with the Tibetan people how to take the dialogue forward,” the Dalai Lama said.

The Nobel peace prize winner sent an unusually strong message to his fellow countrymen. He called on them to take greater role in deciding the future course of action, saying China has failed to respond to his sincere approach.

“I have always maintained, even in the Strasbourg Proposal (1988), that the final decision regarding Tibet will be made by Tibetan people,” the Dalai Lama said in addressing a huge audience who have come to see the school’s annual celebration.

Reiterating his earlier statements that the “issue of Tibet is the issue of Tibetan people and not an issue of the Dalai Lama alone”, Dalai Lama yesterday said the Tibetan masses would now make efforts to decide how to take the dialogue forward. 

“The issue at hand is the welfare of the Tibetan people and is not about my personal status and affairs. It is about the problems that the Tibetan people were facing,” he said. 

The Dalai Lama last month called a ‘special meeting’ of ‘all Tibetan exile groups for next month to discuss the progress of the talks and the situation inside Tibet’.

The Tibetan leader said he did this in response to the lack of any sincere approach from the Chinese government in the dialogue process and the worsening state of affairs within Tibet following the widespread anti-China protests from all sections of Tibetan people across the region earlier this year.

The 73-year old Tibetan leader said the massive demonstrations were an outbreak of long pending deep resentment of Tibetan people against decades of Chinese rule and its wrong policies practiced in the region.

“Even under extreme fear of repression, Tibetan people showed great courage in expressing their aspiration and, deep resentment and discontentment against Chinese rule,” His Holiness said.

Following the massive unrest, the Dalai Lama said, he hoped Chinese government would make productive efforts in finding a constructive solution to the Tibet problem.

“Unfortunately, the demonstrations in Tibet have been violently suppressed by the Chinese police and military. Besides, Chinese Government went on to create a distorted image of the situation and described the unrest as work of separatist elements to split China,” he said.

“From my side I have made all efforts and kept all door open for China to clear their mistrust and show evidence to prove their accusations against us,” he said, adding “but [Chinese side] showed no response at all”.

“In the absence of any appropriate and timely response from Chinese leadership, my position as the Dalai Lama is only becoming an obstruction instead of helping find a solution to the Tibet issue,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned I have given up,” he added.

“So, in the coming meeting Tibetan people must take serious responsibility to discuss the future course of action on Tibet and find out where what has stalled our dialogue process,” The Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama Saturday made his first public appearance in Dharamsala since returning from Delhi on Monday after undergoing a surgery to remove gall stones. 

In his speech, the Dalai Lama thanked Tibetans and well-wishers around the world for their prayers for his continued well being during his medical treatment.

“I have already undergone a successful surgery and I am doing absolutely fine now,” the Dalai Lama said. 

“There is now no need to worry about my health,” the Dalai Lama told a huge public function attended by His Eminence the Gyalwa Karmapa Rinpoche and, senior leaders and officials of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama gestures as he comes out of the Gaggal Airport, which is an hour drive from Dharamsala, his exile hometown in northern India, on Monday, October 20, 2008. The 73-year old Tibetan leader arrived from Delhi, where he successfully underwent a surgery to remove gallstones at a private hospital a week ago. An overwhelming crowd, holding ceremonial scarves and burning incense, was seen lining up along the route leading to His Holiness’ residence in McLeod Ganj to extend a warm traditional welcome to him. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)

Taktser Rinpoche, also known as Thupten Jigme Norbu, the eldest brother of the Dalai Lama breathed his last yesterday (September 5, 2008 after prolonged illness at his home in Indiana in the United States. Born in 1922 in the small village of Taktser in Amdo province to Choekyong Tsering, later known as Gyayab Chenmo (1899-1947), and mother Dekyi Tsering, later known as Gyalyum Chenmo (1900-1981) Rinpoche was 86.

Thupten Jigme Norbu was recognized as the reincarnation of Taktser Rinpoche at the tender age of three by the thirteenth Dalai Lama and enrolled to Kumbum Monastery in Amdo where he began his monastic studies and was subsequently became its abbot at the age of 27.

In 1950, Rinpoche escaped Tibet to educate people about the atrocities in his country. Before moving to the United States in 1951, he traveled the world meeting government and United Nations officials to establish support for Tibet. Sadly, no one listened.

Taktser Rinpoche played a key role in advising the Dalai Lama to leave Tibet fearing the Chinese Communist Party’s intentions. Though pro-independence, a stand in sharp contrast to that of the Dalai Lama’s middle way approach, Taktser Rinpoche dedicated his life to serving the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people. In 1995, he founded the International Tibet Independence Movement and led three independence walks in Indiana, Washington and Toronto over the next few years.

“My admiration and respect for Taktser Rinpoche knows no bounds. His actions and dedication to securing Tibet’s independence are a true act of patriotism. He serves as an inspiration for all Tibetans,” Sonam Wangdu, Chairperson of the New York based U.S. Tibet Committee, was quoted as saying in a newsreport published in June this year on ITIM website. In the same report, Professor Larry Gerstein, president of the ITIM said of Rinpoche, “Since leaving Tibet in 1949, Rinpoche has been a strong and steady activist for Tibet’s independence.”

He served as the Representative of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile to Japan and North America. He was the first Tibetan to live in the United States.

He also served as Professor of Tibetan Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Taktser Rinpoche was also a writer and penned his autobiography, Tibet Is My Country as told to Heinrich Harrer in 1959. Tibet was co-written with Colin Turnbull in 1970, and a collection of essays from 1994 by Tibetans in exile, mostly Tibetan Americans called Tibet: The Issue Is Independence – Tibetans-in-Exile Address the Key Tibetan Issue the World Avoids features an introduction by Rinpoche. Along with Robert B. Ekvall he also wrote the first English translation of Younger Brother Don Yod, a Tibetan play by the fifth Panchen Lama Lobsang Yeshe in 1969.

Rinpoche founded the Tibetan Culture Center in 1979 in Bloomington which was later renamed Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in 2006.

In 2002 however he suffered a series of strokes and had been unwell since.
Even in ill health, Rinpoche remained active in his pursuit for the preservation of Tibetan culture and rights of the Tibetan people. He participated in the Freedom Torch reception ceremony in June 2008.

The Tibetan government in exile mourned the demise of Rinpoche with prayers in the afternoon as offices remained shut.

He is survived by his wife Kunyang Norbu, sons Lhundup Norbu, 46, Kunga Norbu, 45 and Jigme, 42 and their families.

Dharamsala, August 30: Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala, the home of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, led a 12-hr mass fasting and prayer service, in conjunction with Tibetans and supporters around the world, to draw attention to the plight of the Tibetan people.

While observing fasting, the Tibetan exiles and supporters simultaneously offered prayers for the wellbeing and long life of the Dalai Lama, world peace and, for freedom from oppression in China, Tibet and elsewhere.

Tibetan Government offices, schools and usual businesses run by Tibetans here remained closed to observe the day-long mass prayer service and fasting. In a massive show of strengthening their nonviolent commitment to end China’s oppression in their Himalayan homeland, the courtyard of the Main Tibetan Temple (Tsuglag-Khang), the official venue for the peaceful action, remained packed to the fullest. Some five thousand or more, including Tibet supporters and people from Himalayan region, congregated since 7:00 in the morning to take part in it.

Fasting with prayers are also being observed by Tibetans at respective Tibetans schools, monasteries, nunneries and dharma centres that are located around Dharamsala but could not make it to the main Tibetan Temple here.

Many others are known to be observing the day-long fasting and holding prayers at their homes.
Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche and others members of the cabinet, Speaker and Deputy Speaker and members of the Tibetan Parliament and other senior government officials have taken part in the non-violent action for Tibet.


Senior leaders of the Tibet’s Government-in-exile, including Kalon Tripa (PM) and his cabinet ministers, and Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament took part in the day-long fasting and prayer service in Dharamsala on Saturday
“We are immensely fortunate and grateful that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consented to take part in person here, but due to a slight indisposition this could not happen,” PM Prof. Rinpoche said this morning in his official address to the gathering.

“However, His Holiness is observing the fasting and prayer from Mumbai today and we convey our immense gratitude and respect to him,” he added.

Rinpoche said this kind of activity was not a “protest led by hatred, rancour and anger but by the teachings of the Lord Buddha in all the vehicles to refrain from harming others and do everything to benefit others with love and compassion, which is the essence of spiritual practice”.

“Due to the consistent effort and guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to pursue non-violent methods to resolve the Tibetan issue, it has been many years that most of the Tibetan movements remained free from gross physical violence, he said. “This garnered immense support from around the world for the just cause of Tibet,” he added.

“Our pursuit of non-violence has not only enabled us to keep alive the Tibetan issue but also compelled the People’s Republic of China to respond to our policy of rapprochement irrespective of their sincerity” he said.

Rinpoche expressed hope that the sincere practice of non-violence by Tibetan people would “ultimately help change the mind of the PRC authorities to more compassionate” and urged all Tibetans to put “concerted non-violent efforts to bring natural end to the torture and persecution in Tibet”.

The Tibetan PM said “We pay our condolence and homage to those who lost their lives and those who are imprisoned, tortured and beaten in the recent uprisings in Tibet,” he said.

“We also pray and sympathise for the victims of the earthquakes in Sichuan and the one in South-western Tibet recently and the disaster caused by flood in some other part as well”.

Speaker Karma Chophel, also the chairman of the Tibetan Solidarity Committee, said today’s non-violent action was guided to enhance collective merits of all those people in the world in general and Tibetans in particular who have been victims of forced oppression and violence and deprived of fundamental human rights.

He said the non-violent action was to offer prayers for the long and healthy life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to relieve those Tibetan who are still enduring atrocities under the brutal Chinese oppression.

Since March this year, major anti-China unrests broke out in Lhasa that slowly spilled out into other Tibetan regions. Chinese communist authorities responded with military crackdown on Tibetan demonstrations leading to deaths and arbitrary arrests of hundreds of Tibetans, and left many more injured and missing.

The March protests in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet were among the biggest in almost 50 years of oppressive Chinese rule.

China sent tens of thousands of troops into Tibetan regions to quash the demonstrations. Its harsh response brought worldwide criticism, and several world leaders even threatened to boycott the Beijing Olympics, which ended last Sunday.

China repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan religious leader, and his followers of instigating the unrest and trying to derail the games. Facing strong international pressure, Beijing agreed to hold talks with the Dalai Lama’s representatives two times after large scale unrests across Tibet.

However, Beijing has continued to vilify the exiled Tibetan leader, most recently for a trip to France that ended last week.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, he accused Beijing of imposing a new, long-term “plan of brutal repression” and building new military camps in Tibetan areas.

The Dalai Lama has said that despite China’s harsh crackdown on the March demonstrations, he still supports a peaceful solution of meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people under China’s rule, not independence.

Today’s worldwide non-violent action campaign, initiated by Tibetan Solidarity Committee, is to further reinforce Tibetan people’s commitment to nonviolence and strengthen its force in their struggle for freedom under the Dalai Lama’s leadership.

Plain clothed security officers detain Associated Press photographer Ng Han Guan, center, after pro-Tibet protesters held a demonstration opposite the National Stadium, where Olympic athletics competition had just finished, early Thursday July 21, 2008 in Beijing. Swarms of plainclothes police took away four foreign activists protesting Chinese rule over Tibet – the latest in a series of such demonstrations during the Olympics. Ng, and one other AP photographer were roughed up by the security officers, forced into cars and taken to a nearby building where they questioned before being released. (AP Photo/Greg Baker) 

As the Olympics are beginning to wind down, the Dalai Lama said on Thursday that Chinese security forces opened fire on a crowd this week in eastern Tibet and may have killed 140 people. “The Chinese army again fired on a crowd on Monday August 18, in the Kham region in eastern Tibet,” he told Le Monde. “One hundred and forty Tibetans are reported to have been killed, but the figure needs to be confirmed.”

He said that since March, when China cracked down on protests against Chinese rule in the Himalayan territory, “reliable witnesses say that 400 people have been killed in the region of (Tibetan capital) Lhasa alone.”

“Killed by bullets, even though they were protesting without weapons. Their bodies were never given back to their families,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader who is in France for a 12-day visit.

France is struggling to mend ties with China after President Nicolas Sarkozy angered Beijing by threatening to boycott the opening of the Olympic Games following the Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

“Mend ties”? With China after all they’ve done? It blows my mind. It also angers me that the Tibetan people are worth less than political machinations. I really thought the games would provide a venue for people to speak up and speak out for freedom–but it seems as though athletes are just focused on self-glory and getting a damn medal.