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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Nobel Laureates stand with the Dalai Lama

November 8, 2009

by Maura Moynihan
Asian Age
November 4, 2009

Dharamsala got a shot of firepower last week as
three Nobel Peace Prize winners from different
corners of the world made the long trek to
Himachal Pradesh to stand with the Dalai Lama
after US President Barack Obama yielded to
Beijing’s will and declined to meet the Tibetan
spiritual leader in Washington last month. Jody
Williams from the United States, Mairead Corrigan
Maguire from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and
Iran’s Shirin Ebadi had helped form the Nobel
Women’s Initiative in 2006 to "strengthen and
expand the global movement to advance
non-violence, peace, justice and equality".

The women were a formidable presence on stage
with the Dalai Lama at the Tibetan Children’s
Village in Upper Dharamsala, at an event
organised by the Peace Jam Foundation. They
presented the Dalai Lama with a statement signed
by other Nobel peace laureates, affirming their
support for this work. Said Shirin Ebadi: "Your
Holiness, your political conduct has been a model
to the entire world. At a time when human rights
are being forgotten, you have shown that
compassion does not mean surrender, your
non-violence rules with the heart and not the sword".

The Dalai Lama then addressed an auditorium
filled with young Tibetan students in the school
he had created with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru 50
years ago: "More than 200 million people were
killed in the wars of the 20th century, but it
didn’t work; the problems remain. We must extend
the Buddhist concept of interdependence to our
global ecological and economic crises".

At a press conference organised by the Tibetan
government-in-exile, Maired Corriagn Maguire
spoke with passion about meeting 50 newly-arrived
refugees from Tibet: "They told us of so many
young people in Tibet taken from their homes,
tortured and killed. We heard of people being
buried alive, burned alive, thrown into rivers
with their hands tied. We in the human family do
not accept China’s conduct in Tibet, and we
challenge those political leaders who put profit before justice".

The Nobel laureates then announced the launch of
their new website Ms
Maguire spoke of "our sister Aung Sang Suu Kyi,
who is the only one of the nine female Nobel
Peace Prize laureates who is imprisoned. China is
behind it, China backs up the Burmese junta. Our
power comes from telling the truth, we depend on
the media to get the truth out".

For six decades the Chinese government has
laboured to suppress all photographs, testimonies
and witnesses of their relentless persecution of
the Tibetan people from reaching the
international media. But in the digital age, even
a ruthless and efficient police state cannot
control all paths along the information highway,
which makes it more difficult for the Chinese
government to cleave to the party line that the
"Tibetan people love Chairman Mao as their own
father", to quote Xinhua, the official news service of the Chinese government.

In the cafes of Mcleodganj, you will meet
travellers who managed to get into Tibet just
before the latest ban on tourism. They describe
armed snipers posted on every rooftop in Lhasa,
People’s Armed Police marching around the holy
Jokhang Monastery, counter-clockwise, in
violation of Buddhist ritual, public
denunciations of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan
prisoners of conscience marched through the
streets with pistols pointed at their skulls. At
the Norbulinka Institute this week, the Dalai
Lama led public prayers for four young Tibetan
nationalists executed in Lhasa last week for
"counter-revolutionary crimes against the state".

As Chairman Mao’s empire strives for global
hegemony, the Tibet crisis reveals deep fissures
within the state. That ethnic identities,
Buddhism, Falon Gong and community organising are
forces that so petrify the mighty People’s
Republic of China, that summon punishments so
cruel and extreme, reveals a crippling paranoia
within the Communist leadership. The Chinese
Communist Party commands fear but no loyalty, as
did the Soviet Union as it stumbled towards
collapse. But unlike the USSR, the People’s
Republic of China enjoys "unconditional
engagement" with the United States and other
Western powers, thanks to the Kissinger Doctrine
-- a remnant of the Cold War which has never been
reconsidered or rewritten, even after the
collapse of the Berlin Wall nullified its validity.

A Tibetan activist noted: "There are forces of
reform and change within China, but Western
governments are propping up the Communist Party
and holding back political reform in the world’s
largest dictatorship. We fear they’ve abandoned
democracy and are following the old formula that ‘might makes right’".

The Tibetan refugees have neither wealth nor
arms, but the support of groups like the Nobel
Women’s Initiative reveals the power and
rectitude the Tibetan cause symbolises for
citizens of the world. On their final day in
Dharamsala, the three Nobel laureates roamed
through Mcleodganj to buy handicrafts and say
goodbye to new friends. In parting, Jody
Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997
for her work on landmines, said: "I consider it a
great honour to be here in Dharamsala with the
Dalai Lama. The world needs his leadership, he
embodies the values of peace and justice that the
world is in danger of losing. Non-violence has
power, it can topple governments, it should not
be ignored. Gandhi proved that, didn’t he?"

Maura Moynihan is an author and Tibet expert who
has worked with Tibetan refugees in India for many years
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