Dalai Lama drew big audience despite Beijing protest

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Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama waves to devotees outside the United Nations where the Human Rights Council is holding it's 31st Session in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2016.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse - RTSACYY

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama waves to devotees outside the United Nations where the Human Rights Council is holding it's 31st Session in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse - RTSACYY

GENEVA — The Dalai Lama took part in a panel of Nobel Peace Prize laureates in Geneva, addressing a full auditorium about Chinese repression in his native Tibet despite Beijing having urged people to shun the event.

China wrote to diplomats and U.N. officials calling on them not to attend the panel last Friday (March 11) at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, saying it opposed the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’s appearance at all venues due to his “separatist activities”.

“One part of the human brain usually develops common sense. Some of these (Chinese) hardliners, that part of brain is missing,” the crimson-robed Dalai Lama, 80, told the audience of students and diplomats.


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Earlier he told reporters: “Wherever my name is there they usually criticise and protest. That’s quite now routine, normal, nothing special.”

The two-hour panel was moderated by U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore, along with laureates from Yemen and Iran.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising aginst Communist rule. Beijing blames him for unrest in Tibetan areas and self-immolations that have taken more than 140 lives since 2011.

A Buddhist group leading a global campaign of harassment against the Dalai Lama has called off its demonstrations and disbanded, according to a statement on its website.

A Reuters investigation revealed in December that the International Shugden Community (ISC) was backed by China’s ruling Communist Party.

The Dalai Lama told Reuters on Friday he was aware of the decision by the ISC to disband. He also told journalists he had not yet received an official invitation to visit Taiwan, but it was up to the government of the self-ruled democratic island which Beijing claims is an integral part of China.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay)


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