BEIJING (Reuters) - Tibet’s only female living Buddha, who is also a top regional official, said she was upset and angered by riots in Lhasa last month, and accused the Dalai Lama of violating Buddhist teachings, state media reported.
The twelfth Samding Dorje Phagmo said that since Tibet’s incorporation into Communist China it had been transformed from the backwards feudal society of largely illiterate serfs with little medical care that she knew as a child.
“Old Tibet was dark and cruel, the serfs lived worse than horses and cattle,” she told the official Xinhua agency in an interview published on Tuesday.
Born in 1942, she was chosen as the incarnation of the deity Vajravarahi aged five. Now head of the Samding monastery, she is also vice-chairwoman of the standing committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Regional People’s Congress, or regional parliament.
She was in Beijing for a meeting of a national consultative body to Parliament when rioting broke out in Lhasa on March 14, after days of monk-led protests.
“Watching on television a tiny number of unscrupulous people burning and smashing shops, schools and public property, brandishing knives and sticks to attack unfortunate passers-by I felt boundless surprise, deep heartache and indignant resentment,” she said in the interview in Lhasa.
China has accused the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, of plotting the riots and unrest that spread across many ethnic Tibetan parts of the country, in a bid to overshadow the summer Olympic Games and push for independence.
“The sins of the Dalai Lama and his followers seriously violate the basic teachings and precepts of Buddhism and seriously damage traditional Tibetan Buddhism’s normal order and good reputation,” the Samding Dorje Phagmo was quoted as saying — though she did not detail what his transgressions were.
The Dalai Lama rejects China’s claims, saying he supports the Olympic Games and seeks only greater autonomy for Tibet.
Beijing last week offered talks with his aides, after an international chorus urging dialogue. But state media continue to unleash a barrage of criticisms of the Dalai Lama or the Tibet he ruled before the arrival of Communist troops in 1950.
Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison