BERLIN (Reuters) - Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader has said he fears violence could break out at any moment in the region, a year after protests against Chinese rule erupted into riots.
The Dalai Lama’s comments, published on a German newspaper’s website on Friday, come days before the 50th anniversary of his flight into exile and a year since a Tibetan crowd burned shops belonging to Han Chinese and Hui Muslims in Lhasa.
Chinese authorities said 19 people were killed in the initial riots. Tibetan exile groups said scores more were killed and hundreds arrested across the region in a subsequent crackdown by the authorities.
“I am very worried. Many Chinese citizens have armed themselves, and they are ready to shoot. It is a very tense situation. At any moment there could be an explosion of violence,” he told Frankfurter Rundschau.
Chinese officials, including Tibet’s governor Qiangba Puncog, have said unrest is unlikely and denied boosting security forces ahead of the anniversaries.
Last month sources told Reuters that Chinese police had found explosives under a bridge in Tibet. Beijing brands the Dalai Lama a separatist and accuses him of fomenting revolt among Tibetans.