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The Dalai Lama was born on 6th July 1935 in east Tibet. He was enthroned at the age of five. He is regarded as the most tolerant of religious leaders and statesmen. He has been struggling for Tibet’s freedom from Chinese occupation for decades, using peaceful means. The TV reporter, Franz Alt, has been among his closest supporters and friend for decades. © Bigi Alt
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Interview 10 from 15

:: The Dalai Lama: “Tibet will be free”

On 27 July 2005 the Dalai Lama received the Hessian peace prize from Mr. Koch, the local State Premier, in Wiesbaden. The TV reporter Franz Alt spoke with the spiritual and political leader of Tibet beforehand about peace and human rights. It was the 21st meeting between the Dalai Lama and Franz Alt.
Franz Alt:
Your holiness, you describe China’s policy in Tibet as “cultural genocide”. More than one million Tibetans have lost their lives since 1959 as a result of the Chinese occupation. What is the human-rights situation in Tibet today?
 
Dalai Lama:
There have been improvements at a material level and the Chinese government seems to be co-operating more freely. In reality, however, there is still political suppression. People are locked in prison because they demand freedom for Tibet. We also know that political prisoners are being tortured. 

 
Franz Alt:
How many political prisoners are there in Tibet?
 
Dalai Lama:
In China everything is a state secret. There is no freedom of information. We know of at least 200 political prisoners but in reality there are many more. 
 

Franz Alt:
On the streets of Lhasa there are already more Chinese than Tibetans, as I myself have seen. Are you afraid of your homeland being overrun by foreign influences?
 
Dalai Lama:
Not only in Lhasa but also in many towns there are already more than two thirds Chinese and less than a third Tibetans. We are a minority in our own country. In many villages, however, there are no Chinese whatsoever.
 

Franz Alt:
For almost fifty years now you have been using non-violent methods in your struggle against Chinese barbarity on the roof of the world – so far, however, with no success. Has your policy of non-violence failed?
 
Dalai Lama:
No! My non-violent approach has three positive results. First: if Tibetans resorted to violence the Chinese government would reply with even more repression. Second: Among young Chinese above all and in the democracy movement in China I am finding more and more supporters for my non-violent struggle. And third: I see  a renaissance of religion in China. Many Chinese are today showing a great interest in Christianity and Buddhism – especially in Tibetan Buddhism.
 

Franz Alt:
What is the deepest reason for your policy of non-violence?
 
Dalai Lama: 
Quite simply  because the non-violent approach is more realistic than violence. Dialogue is always more important and better than violence. If I were to choose violence then I would have to hand back my Nobel Peace Prize. That would be a pity, wouldn’t it? (laughs long and heartily). 

 
Franz Alt:
But more and more young Tibetans say that Vietnam has shown that the US could only be repulsed with force. Do you understand their impatience with your policy of forbearance?
 
Dalai Lama:
Not only many young Tibetans, but also older people in Tibet are gradually advocating violence. However, I have so far succeeded in dissuading them from using violence. The way of non-violence is an oath that I made to myself. As long as I live I will honour it. I cannot say, however, what the future will bring. My representatives have been conducting talks in Peking for the last three years – unfortunately without success so far. 

 
Franz Alt:
Many Tibetans have said to me in front of the TV camera: “the Dalai Lama should return.” Your authority in Tibet seems just as strong as ever – after 46 years in exile in India. Do you still hope to return?
 
Dalai Lama:
Looking at it today, the situation in Tibet seems hopeless. But globally there have been great positive changes in our time – above all with you here in Europe. The two of us have been discussing and observing these changes for more than twenty years now. I am still hoping for positive changes in Tibet. Some day we will be able to live in peace with the Chinese. Tibet will be free.

 
Franz Alt:
The German Chancellor intends to lift the EU weapons’ embargo against China. What do you think about that?
 
Dalai Lama:
I am basically against the trade in weapons. Nobody, however, is going to threaten the great China, are they? The weapons trade – it’s a waste of money (laughs). So what do we need weapons for? (laughs long)

 
Franz Alt:
How do you, as the political and spiritual leader of Tibet see the future of the country?
 
Dalai Lama:
I remain optimistic in spite of all the problems. In the second half of the 20th century freedom, truth and democracy have been strengthened worldwide. We Tibetans are not seeking separation or a political split but rather friendship and co-operation with China. However, we do want religious and cultural autonomy. We simply don’t wish to be oppressed any longer. The real autonomy of Tibet within the Chinese state would be a good solution for both sides. I see three tasks in my life: to help people lead a better life, to promote cohabitation between the Chinese and Tibetans and to promote peace in the world.
 
I am a simple monk and wish to serve peace.
 

Franz Alt:
You know the catholic theologian Hans Küng. Do you agree with his theory that peace between religions is a prerequisite for world peace?
 
Dalai Lama:
I am not convinced that most wars are motivated by religion. Religion is often abused and orchestrated in politics. The real reasons for war generally have to do with economics and the politics of power. It often concerns financial resources and raw materials. Wars are always a catastrophe. In India also the conflict between Hindus and Moslems is not solely a religious one. Both religions have lived together in peace for centuries. The struggle for political power and dominance are the cause of the conflict between India and Pakistan. Religion is just a secondary cause. Power games and economic interests are the main causes. Since we all live on a small planet, we must learn to live in peace and harmony and to be at one with nature. This is not just a dream but also a necessity.
 

Franz Alt:
Dear Dalai Lama, my dear friend: What is the common core of all religions?
 
Dalai Lama:
Fundamental human values such as love, tolerance and sympathy are the basis of all religions. Of course there are also philosophical, cultural and historical differences between the religions. But all religions have as their aim to reinforce the above-mentioned basic values all over the world. The main purpose for my travels worldwide and in my many interviews - including those that both of us have conducted since 1983 - is to promote an understanding of these deeper human values. In your Sermon on the Mount and your Books of Jesus I find that the words of Jesus have a great similarity to those of the Buddha. We have discussed this in earlier interviews. Our mutual values are sympathy, care and commitment towards others. All religions wish to strengthen these basic values around the world so that people can become better and more aware. Our common way must surely be: More respect for all life, including animals and plants.
 
The conclusion we must therefore draw is quite concrete and practical: peace instead of war. In comparison with the last century I actually see progress in the question of peace. The history of Europe is, after all, one of progressing from war to peace. Such a positive example gives us personally a lot of hope. 

 
Franz Alt:
You have been more than twenty times in Germany. Are you disappointed that – out of cowardice and fear of the Chinese – no German Chancellor, neither Helmut Kohl nor Gerhard Schröder,  has so far been prepared to receive you?
 
Dalai Lama:
I don’t wish to cause inconvenience for anybody. If certain politicians have problems to meet me and to learn more about Tibet then I respect that. On the other hand I am, of course, very happy that many politicians are interested in the fate of Tibet. I have just met Angela Merkel, the candidate for the chancellorship, in Berlin. It is also a great help for the Tibetan cause that many thousands of citizens are involved in Tibet initiatives and Tibet campaigns. The striving for happiness is the most important thing for human kind (laughs once again with his typical gurgling Dalai Lama laugh). Dear friend, please continue to support us both as a human being and as a reporter. We know: one day Tibet will be free.
Source:
Franz Alt 2005
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Quotations

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama

Jimmy Carter

Bigi+Franz Alt
Chris Alt