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July 8, 2013

Buddhist UNESCO World Heritage site in India suffers terrorist attack

Buddhist UNESCO World Heritage site in India suffers terrorist attack

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Monday, July 8, 2013

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Mahabodhi Temple in December, 2006.
Image: Cacahuate.

A ‘terrorist attack’ took place yesterday in the form of reportedly at least four explosions at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India. Four other explosions took place in the vicinity, including one near an eighty-foot tall statue of Buddha and three at Tergar Monastery. Three other bombs were discovered and all were diffused. Early reports claim little damage was done to the temple. Two Buddhist monks were injured. Police commented that Sundays are quiet days at the temple, or more could have been injured. One suspect has been arrested based on closed circuit television that recorded two men placing bombs at the temple.

Mahabodhi Temple is considered one of the holiest sites in Buddhism and in India. Totaling twelve acres, it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is located next to the Bodhi tree, where Buddhists believe that Buddha achieved enlightenment. The bombs were described as “low-intensity but not crude,” according to police. The bombs used comprised of a small container with gas, a detonator, and an analog clock. The bombs were timed to explode at 5:45 AM local time, when Buddhists start praying in the morning. The bombs actually went off starting at 5:25 AM and ending at 5:58 AM local time. Early reports state that while the temple suffered little damage, the staircase near the Bodhi tree suffered damage and windows were broken. The Bodhi tree suffered no damage. 200 monks live at the monastery, where daily classes take place during the times when the explosions happened. However, no classes were being held the morning of the attack.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has declared the explosions an act of terrorism. In October members of the Indian Mujahideen claimed to have visited Mahabodhi Temple to plan a terrorist attack. That led to the arrests of four suspects involved in the Indian Mujahideen, who were believed to have been involved in the 2012 Pune bombings. The four suspects named other members of the terrorist group and claimed that they planned to attack Mahabodhi Temple. The police in Delhi claim to have told the police in Bihar about the potential of a terrorist attack. Political conflict has risen in the wake of the attacks between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Congress. BJP is accusing the United Progressive Alliance, which is under the umbrella of the Indian National Congress, of ignoring the Indian Mujahideen’s threats about attacking the temple.

The Ministry also believes that it could be tied to conflicts in Myanmar between Buddhists and Muslims, despite the rarity of violence against Buddhists in India. Additional security has been placed at Buddhist temples and Tibetan communities in India after the explosions. One suspect, Vinod Mistri, was arrested on Monday morning in Patna.



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December 24, 2012

Scottish Midlothian car crash kills three

Scottish Midlothian car crash kills three

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Monday, December 24, 2012

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Two cars have been involved in a road traffic accident in the Scottish Lothian and Borders region, causing three fatalities and sending three to hospital. The incident occurred on the A68 road approximately 1.5 miles south of the Midlothian village of Pathhead when a Škoda Octavia and a Nissan Note travelling in opposite directions collided at approximately 0730 UTC today.

The Nissan, which was carrying five occupants, overturned and came to rest on its roof. Three male Buddhist monks who sat in the back of the car died at the site of the crash. The female driver of the vehicle managed to get out of the vehicle herself but another male passenger in the front of the car had to be cut free by fire service members. The two front-seat passengers as well as the male driver of the Škoda were hospitalised at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, although none of their injuries are considered likely to be fatal.

“This is a tragic incident,” Inspector Simon Bradshaw of Lothian and Borders Police said, “and we are currently in the process of carrying out inquiries in order to establish the full circumstances of the collision.” The A68 road close to the location of the accident was temporarily closed to allow police to investigate the incident, with traffic redirected to the B6370 road via the town of Gorebridge. The road has since reopened.



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February 2, 2010

China urges Obama to cancel Dalai Lama visit

China urges Obama to cancel Dalai Lama visit

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

File photo of the Dalai Lama.
Image: Luca Galuzzi.

China has warned the United States that ties between the two countries will be strained if the US President meets the Dalai Lama. This follows the little progress achieved at “sharply divided” talks between China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama in China. Chinese Communist Party official Zhu Weiqun, speaking at a press conference to discuss the five-day visit by the representatives, said that “corresponding action” would be taken if the White House did not step down. He elaborated, stating that “it will seriously undermine the foundations of Sino-US political relations”, and that China would take “corresponding action to make relevant countries see their mistakes.”

Cquote1.svg We oppose any attempt by foreign forces to interfere in China’s internal affairs using the Dalai Lama as an excuse Cquote2.svg

—Zhu Weigun

He added, “The Dalai Lama is already 75. We hope he will face up to reality, change his stand and make a correct choice for the remainder of his life.” He went on to say that “We oppose any attempt by foreign forces to interfere in China’s internal affairs using the Dalai Lama as an excuse,” referring to the United States.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after an uprising rebelling against China failed in 1959. The talks between the exiled supporters & China follow a conference last month, held by Chinese leaders, to review Tibet policies.

Tibet saw major unrest in March of 2008, and riots and demonstrations are a regular occurrence, although the Chinese Government believes that its policies in Tibet are correct.

This development adds to previous tension between the United States and China, caused by issues over internet censorship and the US-Taiwan arms deal announced last week.



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August 30, 2009

Dalai Lama begins trip to Taiwan

Dalai Lama begins trip to Taiwan – Wikinews, the free news source

Dalai Lama begins trip to Taiwan

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

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The Dalai Lama in 2007
Image: Luca Galuzzi.

The spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, has begun his visit to Taiwan. He has travelled to southern Taiwan to offer condolences to victims of the recent typhoon, Morokot, which was the worst in 50 years.

Cquote1.svg Don’t politicize it, that will be no good for anybody Cquote2.svg

—Dalai Lama’s representative in Taiwan

The visit has sparked condemnation from China, which regards the Dalai Lama as a rebel seeking independence for Tibet. Taiwan, in the form of the Republic of China, also assert their independence from Mainland China, against the country’s wishes.

Upon the Dalai Lama’s arrival at a Taipei train station, scuffles broke out between supporters and police, according to the Associated Press. This morning he cancelled a planned international news conference after there was concern over the politicising of his visit. The Dalai Lama’s representative in Taiwan was quoted as saying “Don’t politicize it, that will be no good for anybody.”

As he boarded his flight yesterday, the Dalai Lama emphasised his visit was not of a political nature and instead he was invited by the Taiwanese people. He is due to lead a mass prayer for the Buddhist followers on the island.



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July 3, 2008

President Bush plans to attend opening of Beijing Olympics

President Bush plans to attend opening of Beijing Olympics

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The opening ceremony will take place in Beijing National Stadium.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

United States President George W. Bush is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing on August 8, the White House said Thursday.

The visit will be part of an August trip to China, South Korea, and Thailand, where he will discuss issues such as bilateral relations, U.S.-Korean trade and North Korea’s nuclear program.

Human rights groups have appealed to Bush not to attend the Olympics, citing the Chinese government’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters as evidence of human rights abuse. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus have said they will boycott the opening ceremony as a political protest. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says that he will not attend the opening, but he will be at the closing.

Chinese President Hu Jintao with George W. Bush.

U.S. senator and former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was among a group of senators who sent Bush a letter urging him not to attend the Olympics. Presumptive Presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain have also weighed in. Obama wants Bush to boycott the ceremony if China doesn’t respect human rights in Tibet and pressure Sudan on the violence in Darfur, while McCain has said that if he were President, he wouldn’t attend.

Representatives of the Chinese government have begun talks with the Dalai Lama to ease tension between China and Tibet. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier this week that his attendance at the Olympics will depend on the outcome of these talks.

However, Bush has previously said that he would go to the Olympics to support American athletes, not to make a political statement. “He sees this as a sporting competition,” said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. “But at the same time, just as he will this week when he sees President Hu, he will talk to him about these important issues of human rights and especially religious freedom.”



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May 3, 2008

Multifaith council commends Malaysian politician\’s comments on conversion to Islam

Multifaith council commends Malaysian politician’s comments on conversion to Islam

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

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The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism issued a statement Friday praising comments made Wednesday by Malaysian politician Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan on conversion to Islam. Malaysian Consultative Council president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said that Ong’s views are shared by Malaysians from all religious faiths in the country.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Image: Daniel Berthold.

“Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family. A person’s conversion to another religion should not cause pain and suffering for other members of the family,” said Vaithilingam. He asked state and federal government authorities to take necessary steps to fix loopholes in the law, so that Malaysians could freely practice religion in the country.

Cquote1.svg Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family. Cquote2.svg

—Malaysian Consultative Council president Datuk A. Vaithilingam

Ong is the current Minister of Housing and Local Government in the Malaysian cabinet, and also serves as the secretary-general of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Perak MCA chairman. In his Wednesday statement, he said that individuals who convert to Islam through the marriage process should be permitted to renounce the religion if they leave the marriage. Ong also stated that the religion of a minor child with one Muslim parent should be determined by both parents, or remain the same until the child turns 18.

Ong said that issues involving divorce, custody of children and inheritance in matters of constitutional rights of non-Muslims had increased dramatically in the last three years. Ong emphasized the importance of civil law as related to non-Muslims in the country, as opposed to that of Syariah (Sharia), Islamic religious law.

Cquote1.svg We urge the Government to be transparent in this process. Cquote2.svg

—Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan

“Non-Muslims are not to be subjected to any form of Syariah laws and for any disputes or overlapping areas involving the jurisdiction of civil and Syariah courts, civil laws must prevail. … We urge the Government to be transparent in this process,” said Ong.

Ong’s comments were made as part of an 11-page motion of thanks on the royal address. His motion was seconded by Bintulu Minister of Parliament Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing. Ong also spoke about the corruption, education, crime and security and the economy in his two-hour speech.

Of the 27 million people in Malaysia, 60 percent are Muslim Malaysian Malays, 25 percent are Chinese and mainly Buddhists or Christians, and 7.8 percent are ethnic Indians and mainly Hindus.



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March 18, 2008

Dalai Lama threatens to resign if situation in Tibet worsens

Dalai Lama threatens to resign if situation in Tibet worsens

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, urges Tibetans to stop the violence.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, has vowed to step down from his position if things “get out of control” in Tibet, where violent demonstrations against China have killed anywhere from 13 to 100 people.

At a news conference in Dharamsala, India, the Dalai Lama said he was opposed to the use of violence against China’s rule. “Violence is almost suicide,” he said. “Even if 1,000 Tibetans sacrifice their lives, it will not help.” However, he acknowledges that many radical Tibetans have criticized his policy of non-violence, and says that his only option is to “completely resign” if the bloodshed continues.

After making these statements, his secretary Tenzin Taklha said it would be impossible for him to resign as Tibet’s spiritual leader, and that he will only be able to resign as their political leader. “If the Tibetans were to choose the path of violence, he would have to resign because he is completely committed to nonviolence,” Taklha said. “He would resign as the political leader and head of state, but not as the Dalai Lama. He will always be the Dalai Lama.”

The Dalai Lama responded to accusations made by China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, who said there was evidence proving that the riots were “organised, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique”. The Dalai Lama asked Chinese officials to come to his headquarters in Dharamsala and investigate. “Check our various offices,” he said. “They can examine my pulse, my urine, my stool, everything.”

He also suggested that the Chinese themselves may have orchestrated the protests as a way to discredit him. “It’s possible some Chinese agents are involved there,” the Dalai Lama said. “Sometimes totalitarian regimes are very clever, so it is important to investigate.”

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier, says the protests were orchestrated by the “Dalai clique”.

Wen Jiabao’s remarks came at an annual news conference at the end of China’s national legislative session. He said the intent of the riots was to “undermine the Beijing Olympic Games” and “serve their hidden agenda”. He added, “This has all the more revealed that the consistent claims made by the Dalai clique that they pursue not independence but peaceful dialogue are nothing but lies.”

Wen said China will be open to negotiation with the Dalai Lama if he recognizes Tibet and Taiwan as “inalienable parts of the Chinese territory”. The Dalai Lama responded by inviting Wen to speak with him. “If the Chinese side … accepts the reality and addresses the Tibetan problem realistically, within a few hours we can solve this problem,” he said.

Cquote1.svg If the Tibetans were to choose the path of violence, he would have to resign because he is completely committed to nonviolence. Cquote2.svg

—Tenzin Taklha

Although China suspects the Dalai Lama and his followers wish to break away from Chinese control, Tenzin Gyatso said that “independence is out of the question” and instead advocated greater autonomy within China. “We should not develop anti-Chinese feelings,” he said. “We must live together side by side.”

He said he plans to meet with Tibetan exiles who are currently marching from India to Lhasa, as he believes their ambitions to be futile. “Will you get independence? What’s the use?” he asked, calling for them to stop at the border.

Meanwhile, China continued with efforts to arrest those involved in the Lhasa demonstrations, after a midnight deadline for protesters to turn themselves in passed without any apparent surrenders. Witnesses reported 4 army trucks carrying off dozens of handcuffed prisoners. Urgen Tenzin, executive director of the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, said about 600 Tibetans were arrested Monday.

Police were seen patrolling the streets of Lhasa, carrying batons or rifles and checking for identification papers. “When the fighting began, you saw no Chinese,” said John Kenwood, a Canadian tourist. “Now you see no Tibetans on the streets. The young Tibetans are probably hiding.”

The protests, which began in Lhasa, have since spread to neighboring provinces. In Aba, Sichuan, one witness reported 17 deaths. “Earlier today, the whole town was teeming with police and soldiers,” he said. “All the shops have been closed. There are no arrests that I know of … People are anticipating that something big is going to happen.” Elsewhere in Sichuan, thousands of Tibetans turned out in the streets of Seda, according to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

The international community has repeatedly urged China to use restraint in dealing with protesters, and to start talks with the Dalai Lama. United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday, “We have really urged the Chinese over several years to find a way to talk with the Dalai Lama, who is a figure of authority, who is not a separatist, and to find a way to engage him and bring his moral weight to a more sustainable and better solution of the Tibet issue.”



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March 17, 2008

China: Dalai Lama\’s comments are \’downright nonsense\’

China: Dalai Lama’s comments are ‘downright nonsense’

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.

China has denied the Dalai Lama’s accusations that the government is operating a “cultural genocide” and a “rule of terror” against the Tibetan people; officials called his remarks “downright nonsense” and instead asserted Tibet’s culture is thriving despite the recent unrest between protesters and Chinese authorities.

“Nowadays, Tibetan people have been living a modern life while enjoying the development of traditional Tibetan culture,” said Doje Cezhug, mayor of Tibet’s capital Lhasa. “Should the Dalai separatists group not spoil [Tibet’s stability], Tibet would be in its best period of development in history.”

“We have 1,700 well-protected temples,” said an official identified by Xinhua as Legqog. “Monks and the public enjoy full religious freedom.”

Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, had condemned China’s reaction to the protests, accusing the government of undermining the Tibetan people. “Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place,” he had said. “They simply rely on using force in order to simulate peace, a peace brought by force using a rule of terror.” He called for an international organization to investigate the government’s activities.

Cquote1.svg For those people who are still active or have committed serious crimes, we will deal with them harshly. Cquote2.svg

—Qiangba Puncog

Meanwhile, China vowed to use harsh measures against people involved in the Lhasa riots. The Tibetan regional government has established a midnight deadline for protesters to turn themselves in to the authorities, threatening to inflict severe punishment upon those who fail to do so.

At a press conference in Beijing, Tibet’s governor Qiangba Puncog said, “For those people who are still active or have committed serious crimes, we will deal with them harshly. If these people can provide further information about those involved, then they could be treated more leniently.”

The governor denied that Chinese security forces used lethal force against demonstrators. “I can tell you as a responsible official that guns were absolutely not fired,” he said. He also said that calm was returning to Lhasa, but he added that the government has advised foreigners to stay away. Many tourists and locals have not been allowed to leave Lhasa since Friday.

Cquote1.svg There was just a massive military presence, and everything was being watched. Cquote2.svg

—Andreas Larsen-Helms

Tourists making their way out of the region gave their own reports on the violence. “There was just a massive military presence, and everything was being watched,” said Danish tourist Andreas Larsen-Helms, who described the scene as “Orwellian”. Mary Cannesta, an American tourist visiting Lhasa, says she heard “a lot of gunfire” in the middle of the night.

The reported death tolls for the riots range from 16, China’s latest figure given by Qiangba Puncog, to 80, the estimate given by the Tibetan government in exile. Over the weekend, the protests against China spread to Tibetan communities in neighboring provinces, including Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu.

In Sichuan’s Ngawa prefecture, a witness said government troops had moved into Barkham County to stop a group of 1,000 from protesting. He said one policeman was shot and three or four police vans were set on fire. Others reported that up to 30 protesters were shot, while more reliable reports put the death toll at 7.

In Gansu’s Xiahe County, Tibetans held two protests, one considerably more peaceful than the other. On the second day of their protesting, government offices were smashed, and police arrived to throw tear gas into the crowd of over 1,000. Authorities marched through the town, which has placed under a curfew.

The unrest in China has drawn attention to the 2008 Summer Olympics, which are scheduled to occur August in Beijing. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, expressed concern over the situation, but rejected the idea of boycotting the games.



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November 14, 2007

Dalai Lama\’s representative talks about China, Tibet, Shugden and the next Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama’s representative talks about China, Tibet, Shugden and the next Dalai Lama

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kasur Tashi Wangdi: “We are seeking a solution within the framework of the Chinese Constitution for a meaningful autonomy. Until we are able to achieve that goal, we effectively have a government in exile with a charter—a Constitution.”
Image: David Shankbone.

Kasur Tashi Wangdi was appointed Representative of the Dalai Lama to the Americas on April 16, 2005. He had previously served as His Holiness’ representative in New Delhi. He has served the Tibetan government-in-exile since 1966, starting as a junior officer and rising to the highest rank of Kalon (Cabinet Minister). As a Kalon, he at one time or another was head of the major ministries, including the Department of Religion and Culture, Department of Home, Department of Education, Department of Information and International Relations, Department of Security, and Department of Health. He is not a Buddhist scholar but describes himself as a civil servant. He possesses a BA in Political Science and Sociology from Durham University.

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone recently spoke to him about Chinese-Tibetan relations, the status of the Panchen Lamas, the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th and current Dalai Lama, the appointment of Tibetan high monks by the Chinese government and some of the Dalai Lama’s views on topics on religions and societal topics.

The Office of Tibet and the Tibetan government in exile

David Shankbone: What is this office’s relationship with the government in exile?

Tashi Wangdi: I am the Representative of the Dalai Lama. We look after Tibetan affairs in North and South America.

DS: Are you essentially an embassy without a country?

TW: Yes.

DS: Professor Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche was elected the head of the Tibetan Administration cabinet–effectively a prime minister of the Central Tibetan Administration, the government-in-exile?

TW: Ever since His Holiness held leadership responsibilities at the age of 16 when he was in Tibet, he wanted to bring about social political reforms. He started those reforms in Tibet. Because of the Chinese invasion and the problem thereafter with the occupation, he could not get through the reforms he wanted to implement. Then in 1959, when the situation went beyond a solution and he had to leave Tibet, as soon as he went to India he continued with the reform and promulgated a draft Constitution. A parliament was elected by Tibetans in exile. He then brought about gradual changes for the democratization of the system. The political leadership is now elected. We have had a parliament in existence since 1961 and seven years ago we elected a Prime Minister. His Holiness describes himself as semi-retired.

DS: Retired from administrative functions?

TW: Yes. The governing responsibility is now carried out by the elected political leadership.

DS: The Dalai Lama exists as a spiritual leader and essentially a figurehead, similar to Queen Elizabeth?

TW: As you know, we are not seeking independence, but it’s more about the future of Tibet.

DS: As an autonomous region.

TW: Yes. We are seeking a solution within the framework of the Chinese Constitution for a meaningful autonomy. Until we are able to achieve that goal, we effectively have a government in exile with a charter —a Constitution. In that charter, his holiness is effectively head of state, and the prime minister is head of government, to use ‘normal terms’. His Holiness, however, describes himself as semi-retired.

DS: He’s a symbolic head of the people, whereas Rinpoche would be an administrative head? I understand you may want to shy away from using government-oriented terminology.

TW: No, we function as a government in exile. Nothing to be shy about; we want to be open and transparent. It is nothing to hide. Elected parliament, elected leadership; the Tibetan people consider that government as their government, so there is nothing to shy away from. But as I said, in that charter His Holiness is described as head-of-state, and the elected leadership is head of government, in normal terms.

DS: What would be some of the first actions the Dalai Lama would undertake if he were to return to Tibet?

TW: He would hand over all of his responsibilities to the new leadership in Tibet. He made in very clear as far back as 1992, in a public statement, that as soon as we are able to reach an agreement with the Chinese government, the government-in-exile will be dissolved and the responsibility for managing future affairs will be carried out by Tibetans in Tibet. In other words, people like me who have no claim for leadership and responsibilities by the mere fact that in exile we have been working for Tibet; we will have no claim that we will be in some leadership role when we go back. His Holiness has made it very clear that the people in Tibet should take the responsibility.

DS: What are the functions or responsibilities of the Office of Tibet in the Americas?

TW: My responsibilities are to inform the governments, the people of the situation in Tibet and what we are trying to achieve. Simple as that.

The Chinese invasion and occupation

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

DS: How many Tibetans were lost during the Reign of Terror directly after the Chinese invasion?

TW: According to our research, we believe that 1.2 million died as a result of Chinese invasion and occupation. That would include people who were killed in fighting, who died of starvation, suicide; people who died being tortured in prison, and so on. 1.2 million. Between March 1959 and the end of 1959, according to China’s own documents—we got hold of the report of a Chinese military officer, an official document—in about nine months, in Central Tibet near Lhasa alone, 87,000 Tibetans are killed in nine months. That’s an official Chinese military document. That document is available and been made public many times.

DS: How has the Chinese government’s Western China Development program affected ordinary Tibetans?

TW: Of course, development per se is to be welcomed. One of the reasons why His Holiness has repeatedly stated for wanting to be part of China is the economic benefit. Tibet is underdeveloped; materially and economically it is backward, in a development sense. Tibetan people, they need economic development and assistance. If it is meant for the Tibetan people, it is to be welcomed.
But unfortunately, the development plan they have and the impact—we suspected and we now see—it first doesn’t take into account the fragile environment; secondly, it is not benefiting the local Tibetans. It is providing facilities for the resettlement of Han Chinese in Tibet. At every point of development, and any casual visitor such as a tourist can see it, all the development is in Chinese towns and cities. The local people have become more and more marginalized. There are minor side benefits, of course, but if it continues Tibetans will become a completely insignificant minority increasingly marginalized. If Tibetans in Tibet were enjoying economic development, there would be no reason for them to be unhappy.

DS: The phrase used to describe this by the exiled Tibetan government is “Chinese Apartheid?”

TW: Effectively it is the segregation of people; the economic benefits are not going to Tibetans, who are second class citizens in Tibet.

DS: How are the local people handling this situation?

TW: Resentment! But Tibet should be opened up and we’ve always said you should be able to ask these questions of local Tibetans, and not to me. It is better to be able to ask people in Tibet openly.

DS: But that’s not possible.

TW: No, journalists are not allowed to go. Why? If Tibetan people are happy and free to express their views, then there is no reason why people should not be allowed to meet outside reporters. Journalists are not allowed to go, though. About four months back in the international news, it was reported that of the 74 Tibetans in the Tibetan Chinese Communist Party, 54 were dismissed.

DS: Why?

TW: For not being loyal to the party. They were Tibetans who were members of the Chinese Communist Party who are holding posts in the administration.

DS: Have any spoken out as to why they were dismissed?

TW: No.

Tibetan reaction to the Dalai Lama’s Congressional Gold Medal

Drepung Monastery was surrounded by Chinese troops after the Dalai Lama was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. News agencies reported that monks were arrested for exhibiting their joy.
Image: Philipp Roelli.

DS: What happened when the Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal?

TW: Restrictions were imposed on people; in spite of that, people expressed their happiness. Better dresses were worn that day.

DS: Was there a crackdown?

TW: Yes. Why should that be if people are happy? We have always said that if people are happy we have no reason to continue.

DS: What is the status of the monks who were arrested after the Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal?

TW: According to the reports I have seen, a large number of people have been detained.

DS: At the Drepung Monastery?

TW: Yes, one of the monasteries was completely surrounded by troops. The movement of people was highly restricted and party members—retired people—were warned that they would lose their pension. I’m sure many of them who, despite these strong warnings, expressed their happiness may have suffered. I have no recent report on that.

DS: How difficult is it to receive information from Tibet?

TW: Not very difficult. Our job is to represent people in Tibet, so our main effort is to try to understand the situation and their feelings, their views. Therefore, it is very important to us to keep in touch with them and receive accurate, objective information from inside Tibet.

DS: Do you know the situation with Ronggay A’drak, the Tibetan nomad who was arrested?

TW: What he said is nothing—it was the basic asking for the release of prisoners, that His Holiness should be allowed to return to Tibet. Because of some democratic change there has been land pressures with Tibetan nomads, so he also appealed to them to not fight amongst themselves for land ownership, which would never have happened in the past. In this country, nobody would even notice what he said.

DS: What will happen to him?

TW: He has already been sentenced to prison. I think it was 10 years.

DS: Is that standard?

TW: Yes. It’s almost a treasonable act to make that kind of a call; unfortunately, it is a very serious crime in Tibet.

The disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the eleventh Panchen Lama

DS: Where is Chadrel Rinpoche, the man who selected Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the eleventh Panchen Lama?

TW: I have no information.

DS: Does anyone?

TW: There was a report, but I have no confirmed information. At one point I heard he was not in good health. He was appointed by the Chinese government to search for the new Panchen Lama and he was in touch with us with the knowledge of the Chinese government.

DS: The Chinese government knew he was in touch with the Dalai Lama over the selection?

TW: Yes. Some of his people went to Beijing when His Holiness’ delegation was in Beijing. They met and even sent some offerings to His Holiness to pray for the quick discovery of the Panchen Lama. His Holiness has always made it very clear to the Chinese government that the search for the genuine—the important thing is we have to follow all the procedures to make sure that the genuine reincarnation is discovered. It was made very clear to the Chinese government that His Holiness and the Tibetan leadership outside was willing to work with the Chinese government in this search. At that time I was His Holiness’ representative in Delhi, so I had a number of meetings with Chinese officials to convey these messages. There were no behind-the-scenes.
Cquote1.svg They can’t keep their Panchen Lama in Tibet. They tried to bring him to his monastery many times but people would not see him. How can you have a religious leader like that? When a Panchen Lama goes to his monastery thousands and thousands of people will come from all over Tibet and outside. He is an important Buddhist leader. But when they brought their Panchen Lama, they had to force government officials and the public to attend certain public functions. Cquote2.svg

—Tashi Wangdi

DS: So at age six, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima just disappeared?

TW: When the final decision came close, there was a lack of willingness on the part of the Chinese leadership to involve His Holiness. Unfortunately, we then ended up having two people. Now we don’t know because since the age of six he has disappeared. It is totally ridiculous on the part of the Chinese officials, who say he is kept in hiding at the request of his parents, for his security. That makes no sense.

DS: And nobody knows where he is.

TW: No, nobody.

DS: What do you think will happen to him?

TW: I have no idea.

DS: Do you think he is aware of his status?

TW: I’m sure. He is mature now.

DS: But at six years of age, it is probable he was not able to completely comprehend the fight between the two governments over who he was and what role he is to play. If they were to take him at the age of six and place him somewhere in Manchuria, re-educate him and deny him his heritage, it is possible he does not even know who he is?

TW: I suppose. It’s speculative, but there are apprehensions on the part of the Tibetans that this was the plan for taking him away and keeping him in isolation. To brainwash him. At the same time, by deduction, one could say neither he nor his parents and other relatives have given in to the Chinese government. Because if they had, they would have made some kind of public statement to say, “We do not think he is Panchen Lama, we have been treated well and we are ordinary people.” Nothing has happened like that.

DS: There have been no rumors, no words through the grapevine as to his status?

TW: No. The logical deduction would be there is no cooperation from the Panchen Lama’s side to follow the official line.

DS: That’s pretty amazing when you consider it.

TW: It is amazing! It’s also very silly. Unnecessary. It’s a religious matter. Reincarnation is purely religious, and it is a very unique tradition in Tibet. If that is allowed to be followed-through, it is the best way of winning the hearts and minds of people. It’s the best diplomacy and a wise way of dealing with things. Now they have screwed it up. Unnecessary.

DS: What do you think is the thinking on the part of the Chinese government that this six year old boy would be a threat to their power?

TW: They sense their lack of legitimacy. It’s weakness. It’s fear of illegitimacy. They think everything is going to blow up in their face. In the long run it’s counterproductive.

DS: It would seem that by the Chinese government installing their own person, they have created their own symbol of illegitimacy as opposed to allowing religious practice to happen whilst keeping their governmental authority intact. They have created a symbol in the form of Gyancain Norbu of their illegitimacy and meddling in the cultural affairs.

TW: That’s right.

Gyancain Norbu, the boy selected by the Chinese government

DS: Do you think Gyancain Norbu, the boy the Chinese government selected as the eleventh Panchen Lama, is a victim as well?

TW: As a good Tibetan, when he comes to his age of making his own decisions, which he is about that age—18 or 19—he will make the right decisions.

DS: What would be the right decision?

TW: I think if he wants to pursue religious leadership, in Tibetan customs we have more than one reincarnation. If he proves himself to be a good practitioner and religious leader, people will treat him as a reincarnation.

“It’s a religious matter. Reincarnation is purely religious, and it is a very unique tradition in Tibet. If that is allowed to be followed-through, it is the best way of winning the hearts and minds of people. It’s the best diplomacy and a wise way of dealing with things. Now they have screwed it up.” Wangdi on the Chinese government’s selection of the 11th Panchen Lama.
Image: David Shankbone.

DS: But if he insists on his status as the Panchen Lama?

TW: If through his own contact and learning he proves himself to be worthy of being a reincarnation—as I said there is more than one reincarnation in our tradition—then people will treat him as a reincarnation. It’s not a political institution. Panchen Lama is a religious institution. So you can have two reincarnations. I don’t see it as a clash of interests.

DS: But he has no legitimacy now as the Panchen Lama, where as the one the Dalai Lama selected does have that legitimacy, is that correct?

TW: Yes, that’s right.

DS: Gyancain Norbu has not made any statements?

TW: No. Lately he has not been seen in public. People are starting to ask questions and there have been speculative reports that he has escaped, or ran away. There was speculation, but I can’t comment on this. The fact is that lately has not been seen in public. About a year or so ago he was prominently shown in public as a propaganda. For some reason of late he has not been physically seen or made any statements attributed to him. It raises questions, but I can’t comment on speculation.

DS: What do the Tibetan people think about him?

TW: People will respond to him when he comes out on his own. I don’t think people have any bad feelings against him personally. It’s not his fault.

DS: But they are against what he represents.

TW: Yes. At the moment it is not against him, but against the Chinese authorities. Not against him, as a person. He’s not asserting himself.

DS: He’s not towing the party line but just keeping quiet.

TW: Yes, that’s understandable.

DS: So in a sense he is a victim himself?

TW: I suppose one could say that, yes.

The selection of the next Dalai Lama

DS: In September the Chinese government has said they must approve all high monks—

TW: Yes, the state council has promulgated some order. It’s a religious matter and it’s ridiculous for any government to interfere in religious affairs. No democratic government would interfere. Not here in the United States, not in India. China’s government believes in atheism and doesn’t believe in a religious tradition, which is the Communist government in China. It believes in religion as an opiate, a destructive element; to interfere in that is irrelevant, ridiculous and meaningless. It is interference in the affairs of followers of traditions.

DS: How will it affect the choosing of the next Dalai Lama?

TW: It will have no effect. You can’t impose a Pope. You can’t impose an Imam, an Archbishop, saints, any religion…you can’t politically impose these things on people. It has to be a decision of the followers of that tradition. The Chinese can use their political power: force. Again, it’s meaningless. Like their Panchen Lama. And they can’t keep their Panchen Lama in Tibet. They tried to bring him to his monastery many times but people would not see him. How can you have a religious leader like that? When a Panchen Lama goes to his monastery thousands and thousands of people will come from all over Tibet and outside. He is an important Buddhist leader. But when they brought their Panchen Lama, they had to force government officials and the public to attend certain public functions.

DS: How do they force the public?

TW: They said if you don’t come you will be punished and each family has to send one person, and so forth.

DS: How do they keep track of that?

TW: It’s a totalitarian system. Look at the former Soviet Union and China itself. They keep track; the civil system is built like that. It’s run on the basis of fear. They have developed an effective system of control and monitor.

DS: Did the Dalai Lama support India’s nuclear testing?

TW: His Holiness has always spoken against violence, arms sales; he has signed with the other Nobel laureates against arms sales and nuclear disarmament. When India exploded a bomb, he said India is a big country and has its foreign concerns, so it would be unfair with its security concerns to deny of that ability to defend itself. He also said that in the long run, all the nuclear countries should work towards total disarmament.

The views of the Dalai Lama

DS: What is His Holiness’ view on abortion?

TW: He has said many times that as a Buddhist taking a life is wrong. But on abortion it depends on so many other factors and stages of the development of the fetus. And the circumstances. It’s a question for the mother and the child, and he did say if there are developmental issues.

DS: He believes that it should be a personal decision and not a governmental decision?

TW: Yes.
File:Tenzin Gyatzo foto 2.jpg
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.

DS: But that it’s frowned upon as a Buddhist principle?

TW: Yes. But he has certainly spoken very often on population control, but that is more on the preventative side.

DS: What are His Holiness’ views on homosexuality?

TW: He said according to Buddhist practice it is wrong. In society, it is all right. I think of it like this. I am Buddhist. You are Christian, let’s say. For me, I have to follow the precepts and principles as a Buddhist. For me it would be wrong to do that. But it would be wrong for me to say it is wrong for you because in multicultural, multireligious societies you can’t do that.

DS: So if somebody is gay they could not be a proper Buddhist?

TW: I’m sure under certain precepts of Buddhist tradition, a person would not be considered as following ALL the precepts of Buddhist principles. People don’t follow all the principles. Very few people can claim they follow all the principles. For instance, telling a lie. In any religion, if you ask if telling a lie is a sin—say Christian—they will say yes. But you find very few people who don’t at some point tell a lie. Homosexuality is one act, but you can’t say they are not a Buddhist. Or someone who tells a lie is not a Buddhist. Or someone who kills an insect is not a Buddhist, because there’s a strong injunction against that.

DS: Have you ever killed an insect?

TW: I’m sure, yeah.

DS: Is the Dalai Lama planning on visiting Latin America any time soon?

TW: There’s likelihood that it will be next year. We are looking at it. We have so many invitations from countries and every few years we look to see what we can fit in.

DS: It’s likely next year?

TW: We are thinking of it, yes.

DS: Do you know why the Dalai Lama has not explicitly said he is a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama?

TW: In the broader sense, it is a manifestation, so you can manifest in different ways. He is talking in that sense. It’s a broad principle argument.

DS: It’s that he believes he is a reincarnation, but whether he is the whole and sum of the 13th Dalai Lama is another question?

TW: Yes. Yes. Something to that effect.

DS: Do you have thoughts to share on the situation in Burma?

TW: His Holiness issued a statement soon after the recent crackdown in which he expressed his deep concern and sadness over the violation, and he expressed solidarity with the Buddhist monks and people asking for democracy. He appealed to the generals to refrain from using violence—they are Buddhists—and as Buddhists they should follow the teachings of Buddha and enter into meaningful dialog.

DS: Have you any information on their current status?

TW: No, we follow whatever comes into the media very closely. It’s a Buddhist country and historically Tibet and Burma have good relations.

DS: It’s such a difficult region with many complex disputes.

TW: There are ethnic differences, different religions, but through democratic process things can be resolved. Let’s look at India and Pakistan. India is a huge country, so many ethnic, religious—they have the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia—but through a democratic process and the federal structure that came into being the last six years, that’s through democratic process. Unfortunately on the Pakistan side with the same people, same culture, the political system is not fully developed and you see more ethnic problems. With Burma if you see more democratic process I’m sure these problems will be worked out.

DS: All over Asia so many people have long-lasting conflicts and memories never seem to die.

TW: I think it’s a problem that is remnant of the British rule and all these new states came into existence when British rule was withdrawn. But where democratic process came into place things are better. In places where interest groups came into rule, they divide. But democracy reduces special interest.

Arunachal Pradesh, an historically Tibetan area of India claimed by China

DS: What is your view on Arunachal Pradesh? Is the Government-in-Exile’s relative silence over the issue due more to a recognition of India as a friendly government, or does the Government-in-Exile view the area as less Tibetan than the areas controlled by China?

TW: We are bound by the 1914 Simla Convention under which the McMahon Line was formed between India and Tibet. It has been accepted. Both by British India and the Tibetan government, so we are treaty bound. At that time the Tibetan government entered into and signed that agreement. We can’t change. The McMahon Line is the international boundary and whatever falls on either side of that line is the territory of either India or, as of now, the People’s Republic of China (Tibet).

Shugden worship

DS: Christopher Hitchens criticized the Dalai Lama for his supposed suppression of Shugden worship?

TW: There’s no suppression! His Holiness made it very clear that according to his own observations over many years—in fact, he himself used to worship Shugden—and over many years of his own experience and observation and investigation, he found that this practice is not according to Buddhist practice. That practice is also bringing in divisions within the Buddhist traditions. The practitioners are attaching more importance than the basic Buddhist practice, and therefore he felt that it’s a practice that he would not approve of and therefore he advised people to not engage in it. But he made it very clear right from the beginning it was up to the individuals. He has a responsibility to explain the negative aspects of it and then it’s up to the individuals to decide on their own. Officially there has never been any repression or denial of rights to practitioners. But after His Holiness’ advice many monastic orders adopted rules and regulations that would not accept practitioners of Shugden worship in their monastic order. The followers have set up their own groups and they are free to function. But it’s in the right of institutions to make their own decisions.

DS: Was Lozang Gyatso, the director of Institute of Buddhist Dialectics murdered by Shugden worshipers?

TW: Yes, that’s a fact. There’s some misunderstanding that groups taking their own actions is the policy of the Tibetan government, but it’s not. Institutions take advice and it is within their right to say they do not want Shugden worship. But now if a group of people say they want to set up their own institution because they are different practitioners, which is within their right.

Karmapa controversy

DS: What is the reason for the Dalai Lama’s decision to become involved in the dispute over the identity of the current Karmapa [the leader of the largest sub-school of one of the four main schools in Tibetan Buddhism – ed.] by endorsing one candidate?

TW: There was no special decision. His Holiness was approached.

DS: By all sides?

TW: Yes. And then later on there was unfortunately some disagreement. Even Shamarpa—who had disagreements with the other regents at that time—even he did not dispute His Holiness’ decision as to who should be the throne holder. There should be no dispute.

DS: Does he still play a role as a peacemaker?

TW: No, there’s no need. It’s accepted by the vast majority of that tradition.

DS: Do you think Ogyen Trinley Dorje [one of the two contestants in the Karmapa dispute – ed.] will be able to travel freely to visit his followers?

TW: He’s traveling freely. Under the circumstances he escaped from Tibet there are security concerns about his personal safety. The government of India has to make sure he is not personally harmed, so in that sense there are some security restrictions. But as far as movement is concerned in India he can travel anywhere in India. There’s no ban on his movement.



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October 31, 2007

China dissaproves of Dalai Lama\’s meeting with Canada\’s PM

China dissaproves of Dalai Lama’s meeting with Canada’s PM

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

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His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, with Nancy Pelosi, Robert Byrd and George W. Bush on October 17, 2007.

The Dalai Lama XIV visited Toronto for the last two day’s of his visit to Canada yesterday. He arrived at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto.

He blessed the Tibetan Canadian Community Centre in Etobicoke, Ontario this morning, he also talked about “The Art of Happiness” to a crowd of 30,000 people at the Rogers Centre this afternoon, as well as making visits to other places.

Tibetan Canadians waited outside of the hotel to meet the Dalai Lama for more than an hour.

“I am just one man. If humanity tomorrow faces great difficulties, one individual cannot escape,” he said.

“The situation inside Tibet is not as rosy as the Chinese propaganda would say,” said the Dalai Lama in response to China’s “dissatisfaction”. “My Chinese brothers and sisters are always very sensitive. And the Tibet issue is very sensitive.” The Dalai Lama fled from Tibet to India after the Tibetan resistance movement collapsed in 1959.

China expressed dissatisfaction at the meeting, but did not specify what they are dissatisfied with. However, the Dalai Lama’s recent visits to countries around the world is one factor and China says he is pushing to separate Tibet, but he said he wants autonomy, not separatism. There is an unofficial report that the Dalai Lama will be meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on December 13, but the Vatican has not yet commented on whether this is true.

“We express strong dissatisfaction [with Monday’s meeting],” said ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao. “We hope they can reflect on and correct the erroneous actions.”

“It is a blatant interference in China’s internal affairs and has severely hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and will gravely undermine the relationship between China and Canada,” said political counsellor, Sun Lushan.

The Dalai Lama told Prime Minister Stephen Harper during their meeting on Monday to “please take a few thousand more” [Tibetan refugees living in exile in Nepal and India, but a spokesman for Immigration Minister Diane Finley said “According to the UNHCR, they’re not facing persecution in India. But having said that, we are prepared to review applications on a case-by-case basis if they’re referred to us by the UNHCR.”

Secretary of state for multiculturalism Jason Kenney, who is a defender of human rights, particularly freedom of religion, said he hopes the “entire world gets the message that attacking a 72-year-old Buddhist monk who advocates nothing more than cultural autonomy for his people is counterproductive.” He also said exports to China and Chinese tourism rose after the Dalai Lama was given honorary citizenship in July 2006.



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  • “Dalai Lama to meet with Canada’s PM on Monday” — Wikinews, October 27, 2007

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