Dalai Lama wants reconciliation with China
Just before a controversial visit to Berlin, he says he doesn’t want independence for Tibet.
Bochum, Germany – Just before a controversial visit to Berlin, the Dalai Lama repeated in Germany Friday his desire for reconciliation with China and insisted he does not want independence for his homeland Tibet.
The Tibetan spiritual leader was set to address supporters for 15 minutes on Monday at the capital's landmark Brandenburg Gate. City police said several groups had served notice of protests against his visit, but no violence was expected.
The Chinese Embassy in Berlin filed a protest at plans by a single minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to meet him.
"We are not looking for independence," the Tibetan spiritual leader said on the second day of his visit. All he wanted for Tibet was more autonomy within China, he said, speaking to more than 3,000 people in a convention center in the western German city of Bochum.
The Dalai Lama said he hoped for concrete results from the talks between his representatives and the Chinese government, which are being held in the aftermath of the Tibet freedom demonstrations in March.
Change was more important than pledges, he said in reference to the meetings in the Chinese city of Shenzen.
"There are polite words and there are actions," said the 72-year- old, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his efforts to achieve a non-violent solution to the Tibetan problem.
At the same time he underscored his desire for reconciliation with Beijing, which accuses him of carrying out anti-Chinese and separatist activities under the guise of religion.
"We are brothers and sisters. We have to live side by side," he said on his first visit to Germany since the outbreak of unrest in his homeland two months ago.
Some Chinese have voiced revulsion towards the Dalai Lama, but the loudest protests during his visit to Bochum Friday were from a dissenting Tibetan religious faction. The Shugden sect accused him of discriminating against their beliefs.
The Dalai Lama responded that Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns had voted against the Shugden cult. He said he respected freedom of opinion and the Shugden group were entitled to hold their protest.
During his five-day stay he is to deliver a series of lectures and meet with Economic Assistance Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and legislators at the German parliament.
The run-up to the visit was marked by a domestic row because no one in the German cabinet was initially prepared to meet him, apparently fearing it could upset China.
The chancellor is in Latin America and her deputy, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, turned down an official request for a meeting because he does not have time. President Horst Koehler also declined to meet him.
Merkel met the Dalai Lama at the federal chancellery last September, a move which led to a chill in relations between Berlin and Beijing that ended only in January after intense German diplomatic efforts.
Chinese communist forces invaded Tibet in 1950. Since the Tibetan resistance movement collapsed in 1959, the Dalai Lama has lived in India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based.