Dharamsala, April 11 (IANS) Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has described the people in his homeland as his "boss" and said they were setting themselves afire owing to the desperate situation there.
"For years, I have considered myself a free spokesperson for the people of Tibet, but those people are my boss. Those who are pursuing this course of action are doing so not because they are drunk or beset by family problems but because of the desperate situation in which they find themselves," said the Nobel Peace laureate in Bolzano, Italy, Wednesday.
He was responding to the questions asked by reporters about self-immolations that continue to take place in Tibet.
"Because they are the boss, there is nothing for me to say. If I were to ask them to stop, I'd have to have an alternative to offer and I don't. All we can do is pray," he said, according to a post on his official website.
More than 115 monks, nuns and common people, a majority of them teenagers, have set themselves afire in Tibet since 2009 to protest against Beijing's "repressive policies" and the demand of the Dalai Lama's return to his homeland, according to the Tibetan government-in-exile here.
On struggle for Tibetan autonomy, the spiritual leader said: "Autonomy for Tibet had been discussed in 1951, and again in 1956. Mao Zedong agreed to it. It is provided for in the Chinese constitution, and up until 1959 Tibetans worked to achieve it."
Later in an interview with Trento TV, the Dalai Lama said China was the world's most populous nation and its people had a right to grow and develop. Thus, trying to contain China was wrong.
"The change will come about, but it may not be immediate. The new leaders may be aware of the need for change but have not yet discovered how to bring it about."
The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan exile administration is based in this Himachal Pradesh hill town but is not recognised by any nation. India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.