As China's crackdown on Tibet continues, the Dalai Lama has threatened to resign if the violence gets worse.
The Dalai Lama, speaking to reporters, urged his countrymen to show restraint.
He said that "if things become out of control" his "only option is to completely resign."
Later, one of his top aides clarified the Dalai Lama's comments.
"If the Tibetans were to choose the path of violence he would have to resign because he is completely committed to nonviolence," Tenzin Taklha said. "He would resign as the political leader and head of state, but not as the Dalai Lama. He will always be the Dalai Lama."
The recent protests in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, led by monks, began peacefully March 10 on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. But they grew increasingly violent, culminating Friday with widespread street violence. Chinese officials say 16 people were killed, but the Tibetan government-in-exile put the toll at 80.
George Orwell, in his "Reflections of Gandhi", noted Gandhi suggested non-violent resistance to a possible invasion by the Japanese in 1942. Perhaps the Dalai Lama should take a look at Orwell's response, since the Dalai Lama's resignation would suit Communist China just fine.
If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way. When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths.
At the same time there is reason to think that Gandhi, who after all was born in 1869, did not understand the nature of totalitarianism and saw everything in terms of his own struggle against the British government. The important point here is not so much that the British treated him forbearingly as that he was always able to command publicity. As can be
seen from the phrase quoted above, he believed in "arousing the world", which is only possible if the world gets a chance to hear what you are doing. It is difficult to see how Gandhi's methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the régime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of
assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary.
Meanwhile, the news blackout in China and in Tibet continues, even as the violence continues.