At this critical moment, the Dalai Lama and Tibet need us. I ask you to join in adding your voice to those supporting the Dalai Lama, the cause of Tibetan autonomy, and an end to the violence in Tibet.
Following the violence in Tibet and China this month, which claimed an unconfirmed number of lives, the Chinese government accused the Dalai Lama, a great peace leader and long-time member of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Advisory Council, of being a “gangster” and a “terrorist.”
The origins of the violence are not yet clear, but one thing is–the XIVth Dalai Lama has urged nonviolence in Tibet not only this month, but for decades. In recent statements, he has repeated his call for “meaningful autonomy” in Tibet, not for independence.
A Buddhist monk and the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people, he is the epitome of a peacemaker.
While China has arrested a number of Tibetans, ordered foreign journalists out of Tibet and sent more military forces into Tibet, the Dalai Lama has offered to go to Beijing to engage in dialogue with Chinese President Hu Jintao in order to quell the violence.
In response, Chinese officials could only point fingers of blame for “master-minding the riots” at the recipient of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize
Of course, there is much at stake here. Tibetan people, like any people, deserve the right to pursue their culture and their individual freedoms without fear of punishment. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation supports dialogue between China and Tibet’s leadership in exile to help assure the human rights of the Tibetan people and the cultural autonomy promised to them.
But this is also a very personal matter to me. Since I first met the Dalai Lama in 1991, when he received the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, he has been a strong and faithful ally of the Foundation in our quest for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Only a few months ago, he wrote the Foundation to offer his support and add his signature to our current campaign to gather one million signatures for our Appeal for US Leadership for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World.
The Dalai Lama’s work for our goal of nuclear weapons abolition is just one example of how he has reached out to causes of peace and justice around the world. Few people are so internationally respected. Many observers see him rightfully as a peace leader on a level with Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. No one combines his warmth, wisdom, kindness, patience, humor and resilience. The Chinese government should be ashamed that in its attempt to justify its actions, it has chosen to vilify one of the most peaceful, honorable and trustworthy human beings on our planet.
The United States government made its opinion clear only a few months ago. Last autumn, it gave the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal “recognizing his role as one of the world’s foremost moral and religious figures, who is using his leadership role to advocate peacefully for the cultural autonomy of the Tibetan people within China.”
Over the years, the Dalai Lama has demonstrated insight into humanity’s interdependence. He has written:
Our generation has arrived at the threshold of a new era in human history: the birth of a global community. Modern communications, trade and international relations as well as the security and environmental dilemmas we all face make us increasingly interdependent. No one can live in isolation. Thus, whether we like it or not, our vast and diverse human family must finally learn to live together. Individually and collectively we must assume a greater sense of Universal Responsibility.
So what is our responsibility now–not only as friends and admirers of the Dalai Lama, but as global citizens?
We must make our voices heard. We must not be silent. The interconnectedness of the world means our combined voices can make more difference now than ever before.
That’s why I urge you to sign a petition being organized by an international social justice group. Simply click on http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/ and you will see the petition to China’s leadership calling for restraint, nonviolence and dialogue rather than human rights infringement and more violence.
Already some 800,000 people have signed on. It is important that this number continues to grow so that the strongest message possible can be sent to the Chinese government.
In 2002, I wrote an essay in which I drew attention to a poem by the Dalai Lama. His words are very relevant at this moment. I urge you to read the poem and then speak out for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.
No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up
— The XIVth Dalai Lama
DAVID KRIEGER is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a member of the Committee of 100 for Tibet, and a Councilor of World Future Council.