Monday, 19 May 2008

My Encounter with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Brandenburger Tor

Today me and my daughter Gaya went to see his Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin. We were not the only ones, about twenty-five thousand people had the same idea, and so we stood pressed together, waiting for the leader of the Tibetan people in exile to arrive.

There were also people who were not there, such as most of Germany's politicians. For all the social democrats created a scam around the visit. After an under-minsiter announced she would meet the Dalai Lama, the top of the socialists got furious. SPD-leader Beck stated: "Unfortunately we can't stop this shit anymore." Well, shit happened, but it had a very friendly face.

Mao's promise

Considering all the political tensions around his visit, the Dalai Lama seemed to be fairly untouched. He smiled as usual and held a very calm, China-friendly speech. After his speech ended and his goodbye, he turned back to the audience to say something about all the Tibetan flags around. He said, Mao had asked him back in the fifties, if Tibet also had a flag, and promised him that he would allow the Tibetans to hang the Tibetan flag next to the Chinese communist flag. The Dalai Lama quoted this to make clear, that he does not aim to replace the flags, but to have the two in peaceful coexistence.

Dialog or boycott?
It is stunning, that with so much willingness for dialog from the Tibetan side, so little politicians dare to take a clear stand in the matter. The only party where the whole top supported a meeting was the German Green Party. The Silence of the International Olympic Committee and world leaders is tacit endorsement of abuse, says Amnesty.Regarding the brutal and dehumanizing way the Tibetans are treated, it is only because of the strong economic power of China that there is no boycott or other forms of official, international protest. But the Dalai Lama is the one being boycotted here. Even today, even in Germany.

Made in China
It is in this light brave of the Dalai Lama to be against a boycott of the olympics or any boycott at all. From an ethical consume perspective, I think it is better to look at the origin of your product before you buy. And to realize that "Made in China" does not really guarantee workers rights, if any rights at all. Well, make your scan. To be honest, I'm writing this on a China made Apple. I'm not promoting a boycott here, but just be aware of your consume choices!

First image (c) by Frans Prins
Second image: circulating on Facebook
Sources: Taz, N-TV
More to the Tibet case: Tibet Online, Avaaz, Wikipedia, Amnesty International

NB: This article is written on personal title. Not all blog articles on this blog are representing the standing point of the Grass Routes Foundation.


Johan Goossens said...

Beste Frans, zo totaal is die boycot in Duitsland nou ook weer niet, zie:

Frans Prins said...

The Dalai Lama had an encounter with the Dalai Lama last Autumn, and that was her personal, political engagement. So one cannot say there is a boycott of him by the whole German government. It is for all the position of the German social democrats, and in particular minister of Foreign Affairs Frank Walter Steinmeier and SPD-leader Kurt Beck, that I criticized here.

Thanks for your remark, Johan.