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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?"

The Dalai Lama: A monk on the move

August 24, 2010

The Hindustan Times
Indo-Asian News Service (IANS)
August 23, 2010

Dharamsala (IANS) -- Tibetan spiritual leader the
Dalai Lama is 75 but still a true globetrotter,
so much so that he doesn't really need to unpack.
He's made 11 trips just in the last seven months
- to places within India and outside to speak on
peace, non-violence, Buddhism and even
environmental concerns. And last year, the Dalai
Lama made 20 visits abroad including the US,
Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Canada and France.

A light traveller, his quest for generating
awareness on spiritual and Tibetan issues carries
him from place to place even as China tries to
forewarn the countries he plans to visit.

The Nobel laureate, wearing his trademark maroon
robes, travels with an unchanging smile on his face.

Officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile,
which is based in this northern Indian hill
station, say the spiritual guru visits places only on invitation.

"His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) prefers to visit
universities and educational institutions to
speak on compassion, peace, non-violence,
promoting human values and to teach Buddhism,"
Thubten Samphel, secretary of the department of
information and international relations of the
Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), told IANS.

He said the spiritual guru also prefers to speak
on a number of environmental issues like
protecting endangered fauna, minimising
greenhouse gas emissions, optimum use of natural resources and climate change.

In the last seven months, the Dalai Lama has
toured five countries - two visits each to the US
and Germany apart from Switzerland, Slovenia and Japan.

"This year he has travelled much within India. He
visited Mumbai, Bodh Gaya, Kolkata, Delhi,
Gulabgarh (in Jammu and Kashmir) and Jispa, Kullu
and Manali (in Himachal Pradesh)," Samphel said.

According to the Dalai Lama's official website,
in 1967 he made his first visit abroad since
coming into exile in 1959, visiting Japan and Thailand.

In 1973, he made his first visit to the West,
visiting 12 European countries in a record 75
days. His first visit to the US and Canada was in 1979.

In the past five years, the Dalai Lama's
preferred foreign destinations include Japan (13
times), the US (11 times), Germany (10 times),
Italy (five times) and Switzerland (thrice) and France (twice).

During his visits, the elderly monk participates
in meetings with religious leaders, and lectures
businessmen on ethics for the new millennium and
the art of happiness. He chuckles throughout his
talks and often slaps visitors on their back.

He also attends fundraisers with Hollywood
celebrities like Richard Gere, Sharon Stone and Goldie Hawn.

"He has a very busy schedule during his visits
abroad. His daily schedule has 15-20
appointments," said an aide of the Dalai Lama.

Samphel said since George H.W. Bush (1991), the
spiritual leader has met all the US presidents,
including Barack Obama Feb 18 this year. He has
met Bill Clinton and George W. Bush several times.

He also met French President Nicolas Sarkozy Dec
6, 2008, former British prime minister Gordon
Brown May 23, 2008, Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper Oct 29, 2007, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Sep 23, 2007.

The Dalai Lama had expressed his desire to visit
quake-hit areas in Tibetan Autonomous Region in
China in April this year to provide solace to the
victims but the Chinese refused to oblige him.

While replying to one of his followers on Twitter
regarding his plans to return to Tibet, the Dalai
Lama wrote: "Yes, I remain optimistic that I will
be able to return to Tibet...We Tibetans will be
able to develop Tibet with China's assistance,
while at the same time preserving our own unique
culture, including spirituality, and our delicate environment."

However, the Dalai Lama felt "ashamed" when he
was denied a visa by the South African government
in March 2009 as it has close ties with China.

Born July 6, 1935, as Tenzin Gyatso in
northeastern Tibet's Taktser hamlet, he was
recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation
of the 13th Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso. He fled
Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese
rule in 1959, basing his Tibetan government-in-exile here.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for
his non-violent campaign for democracy and
freedom in his homeland. Ever since he fled to
India, he has spent his time in exile pushing for autonomy for Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who believes in the "middle-path"
policy that demands "greater autonomy" for the
Tibetans, is viewed by the Chinese as a hostile
element bent on splitting Tibet from China.

The Dalai Lama's government-in-exile is not
recognised by any country. Some 140,000 Tibetans
now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in
different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.
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