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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?"

Cloud of disappointment hangs over Dalai Lama's visit

August 4, 2009

World Radio Switzerland
August 3, 2009

The exiled leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama is
making his 22nd visit to Switzerland, speaking to
government officials and thousands of followers.
But there will be some notable absences. None of
the seven Federal Cabinet Ministers will meet
with him. The 14th Dalai Lama will be speaking
for two days in Lausanne starting tomorrow and
then for a couple of days in Geneva. WRS’s Alex
Helmick will be there, but first he has this
report about the disappointment in the Tibetan
community over their spiritual leader getting the
cold shoulder from Switzerland’s highest politicians.

To his followers the Dalai Lama is the
enlightened one who is the embodiment of peace
and love -- he represents all that is good about a faith.

But he is also a controversial topic, especially
in the West where campaigns for a Free Tibet have
made the saying as much of a cliché as a
campaign—and an indictment on Chinese governance.

China took over full control of Tibet in 1959.
That’s when the current Dalai Lama fled to India to live in exile.

Tibetans want a more autonomous state. China
remains firm, however. So now the Dalai Lama will
be in Lausanne and Geneva, but the Swiss Federal Cabinet will not.

PHUNTSOK GANGSHOWTSANG: We are very disappointed
about the absence of the Swiss government.

That’s Phuntsok Gangshowtsang. He’s on the
executive board of the Tibetan Community in Switzerland.

GANGSHOWTSANG: There’s a perception in the street
in Switzerland in particular, that the Swiss
government is too defensive and too protective
with regard to the economic relation

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey says
that’s not true. Calmy-Rey told reporters last
month that China has put no pressure on the Swiss
government in meeting the Dalai Lama.

Interior Minister Pascal Couchpin, who met with
the Dalai Lama in 2005, says he can’t meet with
the Dalai Lama now because of a scheduling
conflict with the Locarno Film Festival.

However, Lausanne officials and the president of
Federal Parliament will meet with the spiritual leader.
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