Wednesday, May 16, 2007

China: trade & money concerns prevent Australian political leaders meeting with Dalai Lama

Australian media is reporting Howard and Rudd will not meet the Dalai Lama during his visit to Australia.

In the case of Howard this is to be expected. He has compromised Australia's independent stance on human rights routinely throughout his tenure. He has cozied up to China on trade while reducing bilateral human rights discussions to a set piece charade. His government has bowed to Chinese Government pressure on Falun Gong protesters in Canberra & developed collective amnesia on the systematic colonization of Tibet and persecution of the Tibetan people.

A recent article in The Independent explored the future for Tibetans after the Dalai Lama, who is looking to reduce his political leadership role:

"The trampling of Tibet by the People's Liberation Army, the trashing of its monasteries and the brainwashing of its monks and nuns, the colonisation of its towns and cities by Chinese settlers, all of which continues, was an outrage of which the Dalai Lama spoke with unique eloquence, and because the outrage was so stark he found a huge ready audience everywhere. And then, almost without us being aware of it, he was telling us about values, about morality, about happiness, in the simplest words. And because of the way he did it, most of us lingered to listen to that message, too. Tibetan Buddhism is a fabulously exotic construct, as remote and strange a religious tradition as any in the world, ineffably far away. Yet Tenzin Gyatso has a way to make it simple, without cheapening its truths. "Happiness is not something ready made," he will say, "it comes from your own actions." "In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher."

The Dalai Lama is a living treasure; a spiritual leader of endless wisdom and compassion, who has maintained his non-violent stance against the appalling treatment of his people by China. Despite huge pressures to adopt a hard line approach towards the repression of his people he has stood firm.

Political leaders in free, democratic nations should meet the Dalai Lama at every opportunity. Not only would such meetings reinforce the importance of his nonviolent struggle, but I suggest these leaders need his spiritual guidance to navigate the minefields of hate and division threatening to overwhelm global peace and harmony. He is a spiritual guide for our times and it is beholden on our leadership to heed his message.

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