Today is the 75th birthday of the Dalai Lama. But the man considered overwhelmingly by Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet to be their legitimate leader will have little to celebrate.
For practically his entire adult life he has lived in exile since being forced to escape Tibet 51 years ago, as Chinese troops brutally crushed a Tibetan uprising against China's occupying forces.
Since then the plight of his people has only worsened: around 6000 monasteries and temples were destroyed by Chinese revolutionaries before and during the Cultural Revolution and two subsequent major uprisings by Tibetans have been put down with lethal Chinese force. But all the more remarkable that, in the face of such relentless provocation, His Holiness has remained such an unwavering champion of a non-violent resolution to China's occupation of Tibet.
To honour such commitment to peace, I believe that the international community will have to do a lot more today than make symbolic birthday tributes.
For this birthday demonstrates that time is of the essence for the one Tibetan who can unite his people and can deliver a peaceful settlement that is both just and acceptable to Tibetans. That is why Tibetans in exile, and their supporters around the world, are today urging world leaders and governments to present the Dalai Lama with a gift that could transform the future for his people; concerted and consistent pressure from the international community on President Hu Jintao to meet the Dalai Lama as an essential first step towards transparently negotiating a political roadmap towards a just, lasting and mutually acceptable settlement in Tibet.