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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

His Holiness the Dalai Lama receives warm welcome in Oxford

June 1, 2008

Office of Tibet, London
May 30, 2008

OXFORD, May 30 -- The warmth and respect with which His Holiness the
Dalai Lama was received yesterday upon his arrival and programme that
took place at the Blackfriars was also evident this morning in
Oxford's premier Sheldonian Theatre or auditorium that was attended
by a capacity filled audience of 1200 people ranging from eminent
university professors to students and general public who had reserved
their seats months in advance.

The Tibetan Nobel Peace Laureate's 20-31 May visit to Oxford is at
the invitation of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and the
Blackfriars Hall of Oxford University.  His Holiness' entrance in the
Sheldonian Theatre was greeted with applause and a dignified silence
thereafter after he waved all to take their seats.

"Your Holiness, it is an extraordinary honour to welcome you here
today.  You have achieved a special, perhaps a unique, position in
the world.  People are longing for someone they can admire and
respect, not just for a particular skill or quality, but for their
character and behaviour.  At the same time, nowadays most people also
do not want to be talked down to. You manage to combine wisdom with
humility, to think deeply but to speak simply. Despite all your
troubles, you can still convey optimism, and even make us believe in
the possibility of peace”, Prof. Richard Gombrich, Chairman of the
Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, said in his welcome remarks,
prior to inviting His Holiness to speak.

His Holiness in his public talk on, "Why it is important that the
Buddhist Tradition be more widely understood and how this can be
achieved?," said although all the major religious traditions of the
world have the same potential and seed of compassion we need
different approaches because of different mental dispositions.

"We should study objectively and meet with genuine practitioners of
other faiths and religious to get a sense of their practice," His
Holiness said, adding that it is unfortunate to see that at times
religious institutes or centres are more concerned about their own
survival than focusing on the real essence of the teachings.

His Holiness explained his two main commitments in life, namely,
promotion of basic human values and promotion of religious harmony.

Answering a question from Oxford University's lecturer in Buddhist
studies, His Holiness said that in the past he had said that his
religion is Compassion or kindness.

"Loving kindness is compassion. I mean it has universal value, no
need for monasteries or churches.  Even animals appreciate kindness",
His Holiness said.  Among other dignitaries, the public talk was also
attended by the Mayor of Oxford, who also took part in the special
meeting audience with His Holiness prior to the talk.

Later in the day, His Holiness gave an audience to 240 descendants of
40 British diplomats, officials, military personnel and travellers
who were in Tibet before the country's annexation by China in
1950.  Five members of this group, ranging from 50 to 80 years, who
had the good fortune of having actually lived in Tibet when it was a
free country, greeted His Holiness on stage at a centrally located
educational house.  Also present were descendants of three of the
four British representatives who were at the installation of the
current Dalai Lama in 1940 – the only Europeans ever to have been at
the installation of a Dalai Lama.

During this historic meeting, His Holiness was introduced to each
British family, some of whose connection with Tibet dated back to
1889.  Each of them showed old Tibet photos of their family to His
Holiness and had their group photo taken with the Tibetan spiritual
and temporal leader.

According to Mr. Roger Croston, the audience coordinator, all the
members of the British in Tibet group were delighted to have had the
opportunity to be in the presence of His Holiness and to actually
meet and speak with him.

"Everyone is very pleased.  They are keen to support because their
father or grandfather had witnessed the independent Tibet.  They
agree with His Holiness that history is history and that we must look
to the future.  They recognise the opportunity to extend a positive
encouragement to China and want to help the Tibetan cause.  They want
China to be reasonable and want to tell the truth because their
parents were there when Tibet was free," observed Mr. Croston, an
engineer by profession and a very keen follower of Tibet’s history.

The descendants of British officials and military personnel, among
whom include the actress Joanna Lumley, will be sending a petition to
Prime Minister Mr. Gordon Brown urging the British Government to give
due importance to the legacy inherited from the British presence in
Tibet through its treaty obligations "to pursue a robust engagement
of the Chinese leadership to respond positively to His Holiness the
Dalai Lama who has made every effort through his ‘Middle Way’
approach to resolve the issue of Tibet with the Chinese
Government”.  They will say that “Such a positive and proactive
policy is in the best interests of China, Tibet and the common
humanity of the whole world."

In the evening, His Holiness launched the "Tibet Album" Website of
Oxford University's popular Pitt Rivers Museum at an invitation only
function of less than 100 guests because of space restrictions.  The
Tibet Album presents more than 6000 photographs spanning 30 years of
Tibet's history. These old black and white photos document the ways
that British officials and visitors encountered Tibet and the Tibetan people.

"We know how strongly Your Holiness is committed to the preservation
and promotion of Tibetan culture. The Museum is proud to assist in
this, and we recognise the enormous importance of objects in
documenting and recording Tibet's history. Our current project, the
:Tibet Album"is about making such things available not just here but
to all via the worldwide web," said Mr. Michael "Hanlon, the Museum's
Director, in his welcome address.

The contents of the website: www.tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk  was introduced
by Dr. Clare Harris, who has led the "Tibet Album" project.  As and
when a photo was projected on the screen, His Holiness in his typical
informal manner responded by leaving his seat to point at a figure he
remembered having seen when he was in Tibet and on a couple of
occasions shared a joke to the delight of the audience.

His Holiness in his brief speech extended his appreciation to the
museum for the work it has done in preservation of old photos of
Tibet and suggested that it might be worthwhile to also have the
collection of those photos of the bygone era of Tibet taken by the
likes of late Heinrich Harrer, author of "Seven Years in Tibet" and others.

Yesterday, His Holiness gave the keynote address at the Symposium on
"Prayer and Contemplation in the Christian and Buddhist
Traditions”.  This symposium planned since last year was organised
by the Blackfriars, which is the Oxford University's college
dedicated to Christian teachings.  In his welcome address, Father
Richard Finn, Blackfriar's Regent of Studies, spoke about His
Holiness' "tireless work as an advocate of peace, of understanding
between religions, and devotion to the Tibetan people".

During his stay in Oxford, His Holiness and his entourage were housed
in the President's Lodging of the Magdalen College that is usually
reserved for heads of states and other important guests.

Tomorrow morning, His Holiness will be leaving Oxford for Delhi via
London.  His Holiness is being accompanied during his 12-day visit to
London, Nottingham and Oxford, by his London-based Representative Mr.
Tsering Tashi, who is also responsible for coordinating His Holiness"
visit programmes that included several important meetings and public
engagements as well as significant meetings with Chinese journalists
and Chinese students and scholars, all of whom showed much respect
for the Tibetan leader and were not only awed by his presence but
also touched by His Holiness' humility in spite of his high
international moral standing.
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