Indiana Daily Student

Summit ends, Buddhist leaders say injustice continues

World religious leaders conclude meeting without Dalai Lama

A Buddhist monk living at the Tibetan Cultural Center in Bloomington, Geshe Jimpa Sonam feels unsettled. Today's concluding peace summit that has excluded the Dalai Lama reminds him of the political tensions between China and Tibet.\nThe Millennium World Peace Summit includes dignitaries from the Vatican, Moslem World League and the World Jewish Community. The summit's goals are to use religion as a roadway to peace. \nSonam said the exclusion is another sign of the continuing religion crackdown in China.\n"I am not Tibetan, I am Indian," Sonam said, who was originally born in Kurgil, India.\nIn a press release, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on leaders this week to "reaffirm every man and woman's fundamental right of freedom of religion, to worship, to establish and maintain places of worship, to write, publish and teach, to celebrate holy days and to choose our own religious leaders."\nBawa Jain, secretary general of the Millennium World Peace Summit told Reuters, "We all know China strongly objects to His Holiness's (the Dalai Lama's) participation, especially in the framework of the United Nations ... For China to send a delegation is a major breakthrough."\nThe office of the Dalai Lama confirmed the exclusion was a direct result of pressure from the Chinese government. Annan said in a press release the United Nations is "really a house for the member states and their sensitivities matter," but the summit was by several private and corporate funds including Ted Turner's UN Foundation and Ford Motor Company, not the United Nations.\nProfessor Elliot Sperling, chair of Central Eurasian Studies Department agrees with Sonam, "The meeting is less than what it might have been had the Dalai Lama been included." \nOrganizers did extend a belated invitation to the Dalai Lama to speak at the conclusion of the conference at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, which he declined because he did not want to embarrass those that did not want him to attend.\nInstead the Dalai Lama has sent a delegation to the summit in his place. The delegation participated in a "working session" on the subject of forgiveness and reconciliation. The session is an open forum composed of small groups of about 100 to 200 delegates discussing certain issues without media representation, according to a spokesperson from the United Nations.\nThe deterioration of Chinese and Tibetan relations is especially evident in the Tibetan education system, Sonam said. Schools were once able to teach about three Tibetan lessons and one Chinese lesson, but now they can only teach one Tibetan lesson, if that, he said. \nConsequently, Tibetan schools are very poor. Parents who would have sent their children to monasteries and schools in India to study must now keep their children at home where they aren't allowed to practice Buddhism. In addition, monitoring groups and pro-Tibet activists are reporting the occurrence of house-to-house searches for Buddhist religious articles in Llasa, and expulsions of monks from their monasteries. \n"The situation is very bad, and I feel very sad because the Tibetans have no choice but to do what China asks, otherwise they will be in trouble or their lives may be in danger," Sonam said.\nChina did send a four-member delegation which was appointed by the Chinese government and included Buddhist, Taoist and Christian delegates, although China's official region is atheism. \nThe Dalai Lama's exclusion opens up the relationship between the Tibetan people and the Chinese government to question. According to The Associated Press, China regards him as a threat to the former Tibetan region, which it took over in 1949 and 1950. \nSonam blames China and said the situation in the Tibetan region continues to deteriorate.\nTibetan Cultural Center visiting teacher Jhampa Kalsang said more and more people are asking him about Tibet, and that throughout Europe and America awareness is spreading among the youth. "I love teaching younger people," Kalsang said, "because their minds are so fresh and they are willing to (consider) both sides and then make a decision." \nSonam and Kalsang said they do not foresee significant advances being made with the current political leaders. What Tibet needs, Sonam said, is a government willing to stand up for Tibet and not one that is merely looking out for its own interests and is afraid to offend the Chinese. "Tibet needs someone to shout (for them)," he said.

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2022 Indiana Daily Student