PARIS (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama said on Saturday China was mistreating and torturing civilians in Tibet while the Olympic Games were going on.
“Unfortunately the Olympic spirit is not being respected at all by Chinese officials in Tibet,” he said in an interview on France’s TF1 television, when asked if the tradition of an Olympic truce was being respected.
“There are restrictions on the circulation of information, very strong censorship,” he said.
“Civilians are often arrested, violently tortured to the point where they die. It’s really very, very sad,” he said.
The Dalai Lama is on a two-week visit to France, mostly focused on religious commitments. He has made few political comments but he criticized China’s actions in Tibet at a meeting on Wednesday with French legislators.
The visit has triggered a domestic row in France, where critics accuse President Nicolas Sarkozy of caving into Chinese pressure by declining to meet him.
On Saturday he met Sarkozy’s challenger in last year’s presidential election, Segolene Royal, who said she intended to visit Tibet.
Foreign activists have staged a number of protests in Beijing to highlight what they say is repression of Tibetans in the Himalayan region but the Dalai Lama has appealed to supporters not to disrupt the Games.
Reporting by Sophie Louet; writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Jon Boyle