Myanmar's beating of monks "very bad" - Dalai Lama

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WASHINGTON, Oct 16 (Reuters) The Dalai Lama said today the Myanmar junta's beating of protesting Buddhist monks was ''very bad'' and reminded him of China's treatment of Tibetans.

The exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, in Washington to receive a Congressional award that has angered China, said he had expressed to US President George W Bush gratitude to First Lady Laura Bush for championing democracy in Myanmar.

''When I saw the picture of (a) Burmese monk, like the Tibetan monk, like myself,'' the Dalai Lama told reporters, pausing as he pointed to his maroon robes and shaved head.

''That reflects beating by Chinese (of) Tibetan monks -- very similar -- so therefore, naturally, I felt some very, very strong sort of feeling.'' President Bush met with the Dalai Lama today despite China's warning that US plans to honor the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader could damage relations between Beijing and Washington.

Long before protests in Myanmar first flared in August, Laura Bush made public calls for the release of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and called on the United Nations to take up the Myanmar issue.

At least 10 people were killed and many more arrested during the suppression last month of the pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks. Myanmar police are still raiding homes and arresting activists.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, following a harsh Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

Suu Kyi received the Nobel prize in 1991 and fellow Nobel laureates have repeatedly urged the country's military rulers to release her from years of confinement.

The Dalai Lama said he had made an ''expression of my solidarity with the demonstrators'' and also told the Myanmar junta to tread lightly with fellow Buddhists.

''The junta, they are also Buddhists, so logically they should follow Buddhist teachings: non-violence or compassion -- and beating a monk is very bad,'' he said.


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