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Dalai Lama Sees Growing Urgency in Tibet Campaign

April 30, 1998| From Times Wire Services

NEW DELHI — For decades, the Dalai Lama has preached calm and patience to fellow Tibetans campaigning against Chinese rule in their homeland.

Now, with growing hunger strikes and the death of a man who set himself on fire, the political and spiritual leader has admitted that his moderate approach has failed in the eyes of many frustrated, desperate Tibetans.

"For many years, I'd been able to persuade the Tibetan people to eschew violence in our freedom struggle," he said Tuesday in India after visiting Thupten Ngodup, a protester who set himself on fire Monday during a demonstration against China's rule of Tibet. He died Wednesday.

Ngodup was the first Tibetan exile to die of self-immolation in protest of Beijing. He took the action after Indian police, saying they were intervening on humanitarian grounds, forcibly took six other fasting Tibetans to the hospital.

"It's clear that a sense of frustration and urgency is building up among many Tibetans as evidenced by the unto-death hunger strike and the tragic incident," the Dalai Lama said.

He has lobbied world and religious leaders to try to push China toward more autonomy for Tibet. But China, which invaded Tibet in 1950 and annexed it nine years later, has not budged.

The Dalai Lama arrived in New York on Wednesday for a two-week U.S. visit. His New York office said that he will reiterate his goal of entering into unconditional negotiations with China and state that he is prepared to set aside full sovereignty for Tibet in exchange for self-rule.

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