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Bush To Raise Pressure on Rangoon

October 11, 2007

BY NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT - Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 10, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/64239

President Bush next week will ratchet up his administration's 
pressure on the Burmese military junta over its brutal crackdown on 
demonstrators when he awards a Congressional Gold Medal to the leader 
of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama.

The ceremony, to be held on the West Lawn of the Capitol, is expected 
to attract thousands of supporters of the Dalai Lama and the Burmese 
protesters. It is likely also to be attended by the first lady.

Laura Bush is a vehement critic of the Burmese regime and a devotee 
of the Burmese democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and she has 
called on the military rulers to stand down without delay to make way 
for democracy and the application of human rights.

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the spiritual leader 
of world Buddhism, has been outspoken in his opposition to the 
Burmese military's crackdown on Buddhist monks demonstrating on the 
streets of Rangoon.

On Monday, he offered his unequivocal support for the protesters in 
Burma, who have been subject to secret arrest in the middle of the 
night, beating, and death. "Rapidly changing events in Burma are 
giving us a vivid reminder of the courage and fortitude required to 
conduct ourselves in a nonviolent and peaceful way, especially in the 
face of brutality.

"I offer my own heartfelt support to the peaceful movement for 
freedom and democracy in Burma, and take this opportunity to appeal 
to other freedom-loving people all over the world to support such 
nonviolent movements wherever they occur," he said on receiving an 
award from the Institute of Jainology at a ceremony at the House of 
Commons in London.

Two weeks ago, before the Burmese authorities closed down the 
Internet to prevent pictures of the violence against the monks from 
reaching the rest of the world, the Dalai Lama expressed his horror 
that Buddhist monks devoted to peaceful solutions should become the 
victims of violence.

"I fully support their call for freedom and democracy and take this 
opportunity to appeal to freedom-loving people all over the world to 
support such nonviolent movements," he said from his exile 
headquarters in Dharamsala, India. "As a Buddhist monk, I am 
appealing to the members of the military regime who believe in 
Buddhism to act in accordance with the sacred dharma in the spirit of 
compassion and nonviolence."

Mr. Bush's public demonstration of support for the Dalai Lama on 
October 17 is also a direct criticism of China's poor human rights 
record and will add pressure on the Chinese communist leadership to 
exert the utmost influence to restrain its client state, Burma.

America does not recognize Tibet as a separate state, but as part of 
China, which makes the honor awarded to the Dalai Lama even more 
unusual. Mr. Bush informed President Hu of China that he would 
welcome the Dalai Lama to Washington at the recent Asia Pacific 
Economic Summit in Sydney, Australia, before accepting an invitation 
from the Chinese communists to attend the opening of the Beijing 
Olympics with Mrs. Bush in August next year.

Mr. Bush is inviting a sharp response from the Chinese, who last week 
condemned Chancellor Merkel of Germany for holding a private meeting 
with the Dalai Lama before backing his call for more cultural 
autonomy for Tibet. The meeting "not only grossly interferes with the 
internal affairs of China, it hurts the feelings of the Chinese 
people and seriously undermines China-Germany relations," a Chinese 
government spokeswoman said.

Yesterday, the Chinese launched a pre-emptive strike against the 
visit of the Dalai Lama, who is currently in New York State, accusing 
him of supporting "evil cults" like a spiritual organization outlawed 
in China, Falun Gong, and Japan's Aum Shinrikyo.

The Dalai Lama "not only has no hatred toward evil cults but instead 
shows a great deal of compassion for them," the official Chinese news 
agency, Xinhua, reported.

"It is the 14th Dalai Lama's own deeds that have step by step 
betrayed his real intentions and political ambitions put under the 
guise of Buddhism and peace," it said.

Last night, in an interview with Dan Rather on HDNet TV, the Dalai 
Lama returned to his appeal to the Chinese to allow Tibet more 
freedom. "The present China policy in Tibet [is] almost like a rule 
of terror," he said. "This must change."

Late Monday, at the suggestion of the U.N. special envoy to Burma, 
Ibrahim Gambari, the junta appointed a retired general, Aung Kyi, to 
"continue relations in the future" with Ms. Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace 
Prize laureate who has been under house arrest for the last 18 years, 
according to Burmese state-run TV. The military leaders have said Ms. 
Suu Kyi could be freed if she renounced her appeals to forces outside 
Burma to press for democracy, a condition her supporters say she 
would never accept.

Last night, the Dalai Lama spoke to an audience of hundreds in an 
athletic hall at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., on behalf of the 
Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies.

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