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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

The Dalai Lama's plea

October 31, 2007

The Star
Oct 30, 2007

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was right to meet Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, on Parliament Hill yesterday, even if Tibet's exiled spiritual leader came bearing a
challenging moral message. The revered Buddhist is a man of peace who deserves a hearing in high places.

Pressed to comment on Canada's military activity in Afghanistan, the Dalai Lama cautioned that violence begets violence, and disagreed with fighting terrorism in
Afghanistan or Iraq. "I always believe non-violence is the best way to solve problems," he said. This is a sensitive topic, after the 9/11 attacks, and when Canadians
are deeply split over the Afghan mission, and how best to thwart terror.

But the Dalai Lama is a Nobel peace laureate who did not hesitate to tell U.S. President George Bush the same thing when Congress gave him its highest honour
two weeks ago. While some may deride his pacifist message as simplistic, it merits a hearing in the councils of power, if only as a caution against Iraq-style military

The visit with Harper completes a process that began with former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin meeting the Dalai Lama privately in 2004, and Parliament
making him an honorary citizen in 2006.

Canada, the United States, Australia and Germany have all stepped up contacts despite fierce objections from Beijing, which maintains that Tibet has been a part of
China for centuries, and which regards the Dalai Lama as a feudal "splittist."

Mao Zedong's People's Republic of China invaded Tibet in 1950, and the Dalai Lama was driven into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising and massive loss
of life. To this day the Dalai Lama is revered in Tibet, embodying his people's resistance to efforts to suppress their culture, religion and language.

While the Dalai Lama did press for Tibetan independence for decades, today at 72 he preaches a moderate "middle way" of "meaningful autonomy" under Chinese
sovereignty. In talks with Beijing, his officials have claimed the right to run their own monasteries, to preserve their language and to have some say over education.

These are basic human rights. Tibetans deserve no less.

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