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The exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama Monday said conditions in Tibet had “not improved at all” since the Olympics Games in Beijing, according to a media report.

The exiled Tibetan leader, currently in Poland on the last leg of his Europe tour, said “the Chinese government carried (out) immense sort of suppression” since demonstrations earlier this year against Beijing’s rule in Tibet, AP reported.

The Dalai Lama said in Tibet “some arrests still continue.”

The demonstrations against Chinese rule in March spread across the whole Tibetan region. China launched a massive crackdown in which Tibetan exile groups say more than 200 Tibetans died and more than 1,000 people have been detained.

China last month refused to answer questions from a United Nations human rights panel about the alleged torture and disappearance of dissidents, or provide official figures on the mistreatment of detainees in its prisons.

The UN Committee Against Torture, in its concluding observations of China’s report on its adherence to the UN Convention against Torture, expressed in its section on Tibet deep concern about allegations of “longstanding reports of torture, beatings, shackling and other abusive treatment, in particular of Tibetan monks and nuns, at the hands of public officials, public security and state security, as well as paramilitary and even unofficial personnel at the instigation or with the acquiescence or consent of public officials.”

The Committee also asked China to provide, within one year, a response to reports of widespread excessive use of force and other abuses related to the spring demonstrations in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties.

China, however, rebuffed the allegations and called the UN torture report an “untrue and unprofessional outcome,” saying it had prejudiced and politicized its members.

The Dalai Lama was speaking Monday in the Polish city of Krakow, where he received the Honoris Causa doctorate from Jagiellonian University.

According to a Polish online news site, Professor Beata Szymanska-Aleksandrowicz of the university’s Institute of Philosophy, nominated the Dalai Lama for the honour.

The University’s Senate agreed to the honourary doctorate in October 2007, thenews.pl reported, adding that the awarding of the honourary degree is based on “the Dalai Lama’s high ethical standards in social and public life as observed in his inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and non-violent fight for freedom and rights for Tibetans”.

Szymanska-Aleksandrowicz, in her speech upon bestowing the degree, reportedly stated that the “honourary doctorate is not only an expression of recognition for one man, whose whole life has been about living truth and ideals, but for all those who remain anonymous but have acted in the name of higher ethical standards and work for the moral propagation of good and truth.”

The Dalai Lama has, according to the professor, joined a long tradition of the University of bestowing honours upon known figures such as John Paul II and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

Upon acceptance of the honour, the Dalai Lama reportedly told his audience that Poles have a special place in his heart – from the moment he heard about Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement, he has been interested in Poland.

“Poles survived many difficult states in their history, but the Polish nation has kept its heart adamant,” His Holiness was quoted as saying by the online news site.

The Dalai Lama’s ongoing Europe tour and his Saturday meeting with the President Sarkozy of France have left China fuming. In protest Beijing canceled a long-planned China-EU summit and has told France to face serious consequences in diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama urged the world to remain firm when dealing with China. He said, in order to protect the long-term interests of the Chinese people, world must not hesitate to raise human right issues with Beijing Government.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy defied China on Saturday by meeting the Dalai Lama and said Europe shared the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’s concerns over the situation in his homeland.

China called the meeting an “opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach to handling the Tibet issue,” despite Sarkozy saying he regarded Tibet as part of China and that there was no need to “dramatize” his encounter.

“The meeting went very well … The Chinese authorities knew perfectly well this meeting would take place before the end of the year,” Sarkozy told reporters after his talks, which lasted about 30 minutes.

China called off a summit with the European Union last Monday in protest against Sarkozy’s plan to meet the Dalai Lama, branded by Beijing as a “splittist” for advocating self-determination for his mountain homeland.

On Saturday, China condemned the meeting. “This development is indeed an unwise move which not only hurts the feelings of the Chinese people, but also undermines Sino-French ties,” its official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

“The French side … took an opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach to handling the Tibet issue.”


Sarkozy said the Dalai Lama, who welcomed him by draping a ‘kata’ or traditional Tibetan white scarf on his shoulder, had said at the meeting that he does not seek independence for Tibet. “I told him how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities.”

Asked about the situation in Tibet, Sarkozy said: “The Dalai Lama shared with me his worries, worries which are shared in Europe. We have had a wide discussion of this question.” The Dalai Lama and other supporters of Tibetan self-rule say China is strangling the mountain region’s cultural and religious traditions and subordinating Tibetans to an influx of Han Chinese migrants and investment, charges Beijing rejects.

STAYING CALM

The two met in the Polish port of Gdansk where they joined 25th anniversary celebrations of Polish pro-democracy leader Lech Walesa’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Playing down any possible negative impact on Sino-French ties, Sarkozy said: “There is no need to dramatize things.”

Beijing’s unusually vocal criticism of Sarkozy’s plan to meet the Dalai Lama is linked to the fact that Paris holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, diplomats say.

In Paris, an official said there had been no sign yet of any Chinese boycott of French products. The EU is China’s biggest trade partner and supermarket chain Carrefour employs tens of thousands of people in China and is the biggest purchaser of Chinese goods in France.

French companies were subjected to Chinese boycotts and demonstrations earlier this year after the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay was disrupted by anti-China protesters.

Earlier on Saturday, the Dalai Lama called for dialogue and compassion to solve the world’s problems.

“Warfare failed to solve our problems in the last century, so this century should be a century of dialogue,” he told delegates, including Walesa, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

The Dalai Lama, who met Tusk privately on Saturday, praised Polish courage in resisting past oppression.

The 73-year-old monk is a popular figure in Poland, where some see in his struggle with China’s communist authorities echoes of their own battles under Walesa against Soviet-backed communist rule that ended in 1989.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 after a failed insurrection against Chinese rule in Tibet, occupied by People’s Liberation Army troops from 1950.

Hubert Vialatte, Associated Press

The Dalai Lama wrapped up a high-profile visit to France that coincided with the Beijing Olympics by meeting behind closed doors with the French foreign minister after a religious ceremony Friday attended by the first lady.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, however, was conspicuously absent from both events. He and the exiled Tibetan leader may meet later this year – but avoided what would have been a politically sensitive meeting during the Olympic Games. Friday’s ceremony was among the Dalai Lama’s sole meetings with French authorities during his 11-day trip to France. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Human Rights Minister Rama Yade attended the religious ceremony, the inauguration of a Buddhist temple in the south of France.

Kouchner was the highest-ranking French official to meet with the Dalai Lama. “I told him he would always be welcome in France,” Kouchner told reporters after their talks.

Mathieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk of French origin who served as a translator during the trip, told reporters the “serious situation” in Tibet topped the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Kouchner.

“Coinciding with the Olympic Games, there’s a certain kind of extremely brutal repression that continues to reign,” Ricard said. The Dalai Lama wound a traditional white Tibetan scarf around the neck of first lady and former model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. She, Yade and Kouchner wore the long, silk scarves during the ceremony blessing the temple in the town of Roqueredonde.

Although his visit to France centered mostly around spiritual matters, the Dalai Lama ratcheted up his criticism of the Chinese, accusing Chinese troops of firing at a crowd of Tibetans in China this week and saying people may have been killed during the incident. In an interview with Le Monde daily released Thursday, the Tibetan spiritual leader accused China of imposing a new, long-term “plan of brutal repression” and building new military camps in Tibetan areas. He also expressed disappointment that talks this year between his representatives and Chinese authorities about Tibet ran aground without breakthroughs.