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13_November_2012_004Dharamashala: His Holiness the Dalai Lama has called on the Chinese government to ‘thoroughly investigate' the causes of self-immolations by Tibetans and urged the leaders of foreign governments to visit Tibet.

The Tibetan spiritual leader made the comments in response to an attack in the Chinese state media, in which he was accused of glorifying self-immolations and allying with Japanese right-wingers, to around 130 Japanese parliamentarians, in Tokyo this morning. The group included opposition leader and former prime minister - tipped by many to be re-elected to lead the country in forthcoming general elections, Shinzo Abe, known for his tough stance on China

Two more Tibetans set themselves alight in Dowa township in Tongren, Qinghai province, yesterday, bringing the total number of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese rule in their country since March 2011, to 72.

Yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said: "Not only did the Dalai Lama not condemn (the self-immolations), but he actually glorified these acts, which are against the national law and religious principles."

This morning, His Holiness blamed "narrow-minded Communist officials" for seeing Buddhist culture as a threat, stating: "I always ask the Chinese government, please, now, thoroughly investigate.

"What is the cause of these sad things?"

Urging the Japanese lawmakers to visit Tibet and investigate the reasons behind the ongoing spate of fiery protests, which has gathered pace in the run up to and during the Chinese Communist Party's 18th Party Congress, currently taking place behind closed doors in Beijing, during which its new president (expected to be Xi Jinping) will be selected, the Dalai Lama added: "I request some parliamentary groups, visit Tibet, including areas where Tibetans have died in very sad self-immolations.

"Perhaps the authorities, leaders of China, I think, may get the true picture if foreign lawmakers report what is actually happening there."

China has always maintained that the 77-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader is a separatist seeking an independent Tibet. In yesterday's statement, Hong also accused him of supporting Japanese right-wingers in a dispute over some East China Sea islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, which the Japanese government nationalized in September in a bid to prevent Tokyo's right-wing governor from buying them. The move sparked anti-Japanese protests in cities across China, during which Japanese businesses and cars were attacked.

Rebuking Japan for having provided a platform for His Holiness who has spent the last ten days touring the country, Hong said: "To achieve his separatist goal, he associated with the Japanese right-wing forces. Chinese people despise him for what he did. We are firmly opposed to any countries providing a stage for him."

Chinese media have accused His Holiness of calling the islands by their Japanese name during a news conference in Yokohama last Monday, but an Associated Press review of a tape of the event showed he referred to them only as ‘the islands.'

Shutters remained down over business and shops in exiled Tibetan communities across India today in an expression of solidarity with the self-immolators, eight of whom, including three teenage monks and a young mother, have set themselves alight within the past six days.

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