Dalai Lama urges education reform to end human cruelty

11th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

The Dalai Lama called Friday for dramatic education reforms to put more emphasis on values such as compassion.

"Frankly speaking, our generation, not much hope," the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader told a packed auditorium in Geneva, lamenting that the 21st century looked as if it would be every bit as bloody and heartless as the 20th.

But, he stressed, "our hope is the future generation, if we start now with education ... that teaches us how to create healthy minds".

Speaking at an event on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council alongside other Nobel Peace Prize laureates, he said he and others were working on a "first draft" of a more "holistic" curriculum, which should be ready by the end of the year.

"Basic human nature is compassionate," he insisted, adding, however, that concrete action was needed to help people retain the empathy they naturally displayed as children.

"I'm a Buddhist monk. My daily practice includes prayer," he said, adding though that "I'm quite sceptical, of (whether) prayer (can) bring world peace... Peace must come through action."

The 1989 Nobel laureate, who has been branded a dangerous separatist by Beijing despite his repeated statements condemning violence, reiterated Friday his assertion that Tibet should remain part of China.

"We are not seeking separation," he said, urging all countries and peoples to pursue a "culture of peace".

- Silence breeds tyranny -

Also on the podium Friday was Tawakkol Karman, a 37-year-old Yemeni journalist and activist who won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her participation in the Arab Spring uprisings.

She too emphasised the importance of non-violent resistance, stressing that the peaceful Arab Spring protests had initially been massively successful, forcing out several long-time dictators.

"Every great revolution is followed by a counter-revolution... And we are facing a very ugly counter-revolution," said Karman, whose country has since been plunged into civil war.

But she remained hopeful: "In the end, who will win? The people."

Karman meanwhile voiced harsh criticism of the international community for not doing more to support the peaceful protesters as oppressive powers cracked down on them, in Yemen, Egypt and especially Syria.

"Now the world is screaming: 'Oh my God! There are refugees!' ... Why were you silent when (Syrian President) Basher al-Assad killed the people" demonstrating in 2011? she asked angrily.

She charged that Western "silence" allowed protests five years ago to spiral into the horrific conflict still ripping Syria apart, and paved the way for extremists like the Islamic State group.

"With your silence, the tyranny will have new power to kill people and to create the extremism and to create the terrorists," she said.

© 2016 AFP

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