Tibetan leader receives standing ovation from 14,000 people, meets Parliament Speaker
Stockholm (Swenden), 3 June 2003: More than 14,000 people gave a rapturous standing ovation to the exiled Tibetan leader and Nobel Peace Laureate, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, after the conclusion of his talk on “Non-violence and Peace” this evening here at the popular Globe Theatre. The event marked the end of the day’s hectic schedule that included an address to parliament members, meeting with the Speaker of the Swedish Parliament and participation at a function where His Holiness received the Sigtuna Medal for his contribution to “human dignity and freedom.”
His Holiness said that peace does not mean mere absence of violence and spoke about the importance of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, a sense of caring for others and the logic of entering into a dialogue to solve problems. He said that these good human qualities and methods have nothing to do with religion and that everyone has the potential to contribute to the betterment of humanity.
“To overcome problems dialogue is important. Where there is compassionate attitude, there is consideration for others interest,” His Holiness said adding that in today’s modern world everything is inter-connected and so the interest of one nation or individual is very much inter-connected with the interest of other nations or individuals.
The Tibetan leader received another round of applause when he told the audience and especially the younger generation not to lose hope because of the negative actions that have taken place in the world and that peace movements were growing.
Paula Pereira, a journalist from Brazil, who interviewed His Holiness yesterday told this writer that she was surprised to see so many people had come to see and hear His Holiness at the Globe Theatre.
“After the talk I heard many people commending on how much they had enjoyed his talk. Some people even stopped me in the street to ask whether I had seen the Dalai Lama. I did not realise he was this popular in Sweden,” she said, adding that “I found him very informal and he even speaks with people in the street as if he has known them for a long time. Its nice and I like his sense of humour”.
His Holiness’ public talk had become such a sell-out that it was telecast live by the Swedish Television. According to organisers, the Tibetan Association and the Swedish music company Emma Telstar, a website link www.aftonbladet.se also was made available and the talk would again be telecast on Swedish TV1 and TV2 to benefit more people.
“10,000 tickets were sold within a month of the talk’s announcement last December,” said Dr. Tashi Wangyal, Chairman of the Tibetan Community in Sweden, and further informed that 3,000 seats were taken by senior students from various schools.
Giving the vote of thanks, Emma Telstar’s Chief Representative and well-known Swedish singer, Mr. Tomas Ledin, said, “Your Holiness, we will try to practice your advise,” to yet another round of applause from an apparently enthusiastic audience.
“The people enjoyed His Holiness’ visit very much. Everyone put in their voluntary effort with sincerity. Our official photographer Ztefan Bertha just told me that at least 50 people called him to say how much they enjoyed hearing His Holiness and how he himself felt proud to be associated with the visit. I also received many calls from people expressing their appreciation for His Holiness’ visit to Sweden,” commented Dr. Wangyal.
Meeting with Parliament Speaker
Earlier in the day, His Holiness visited the Parliament where he addressed members of the Swedish Parliament before having a separate meeting with the Speaker, Mr. Bjorn von Sydow. The meeting was a close-door affair except for press photo opportunity at the beginning and after when the Speaker came out of his office wearing from the neck a long white silk scarf presented by His Holiness as a traditional Tibetan form of greeting.
“They had very good exchanges about world affairs, non-violence and war and its implications. The speaker asked His Holiness about the Tibet situation. I felt he was a very warm person and showed much interest in international affairs,” said Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe based at Office of Tibet, London, and who accompanied the Tibetan leader.
Address to Parliament Members and Sino-Tibetan Dialogue
His Holiness’ address to about 200 members of parliament and special guests was at the invitation of the newly formed Swedish-Tibet Parliamentary Group, whose chairman Mr. Kent Olsen informed how the group was raising the issue of Tibet in their parliament. His Holiness briefed the parliament members about his efforts towards promoting basic human good qualities
and inter-religious harmony and dialogue. He also gave an update on the Tibet situation and said that his delegation’s current and second visit to China is an effort to build confidence and remove the element of suspicion on the part of the Chinese leadership in seeking “meaningful solution” for Tibet.
Earlier in the day, the Tibetan leader refused to elaborate further on his delegation’s visit despite persistent questioning by Swedish TV journalists, saying that sometimes it is better to indulge in what he called “silent diplomacy”. He, however, maintained that Chinese leadership’s concern for “national unity” and “stability” can be brought about by adopting his Middle Way Approach whereby he is not seeking complete separation of Tibet from China but rather seeking only genuine autonomy or self-rule for Tibet thus ensuring the survival of the Tibetan culture.
His Holiness also had a joint meeting with members of the Swedish-Tibet Parliamentary Group and representatives of the Swedish Tibet Committee (support group)
Visit concludes smoothly
Mr. Tenzin Geyche Tethong, the Personal Secretary to His Holiness for over 30 years, told this writer that all over Europe and the Western world there is much appreciation for His Holiness’ message on human values.
“Although it was a short visit, it went very well and smoothly, especially the public talk. All over Europe, there is tremendous appreciation for His Holiness’ message. I think it is because His Holiness is open and he does not speak about Buddhism specifically. His message is mainly about promoting human values. His talks about compassion, anger, forgiveness, are relevant to the people. That is why his talks in Europe are attended by thousands of people. In Australia, last year, over 20,000 people attended his public talks and in New York’s Central Park, some say that about 60,000 attended His Holiness’ talk,” Mr. Tethong said.
His observations were shared by Mrs. Takla who said that His Holiness’ various talks at the parliament, the awards function and at the Globe Theatre were all about peace, compassion, that are relevant to the world community.
“I feel anybody who has heard His Holiness would benefit from his talks. Although he is a Tibetan Buddhist, his regard for all peoples, irrespective of race, and religions, I feel is very encouraging. To see how the people came to see and hear His Holiness was deeply moving and inspiring,” Mrs. Takla concluded.
Tomorrow morning, His Holiness and entourage leave for Denmark on the last leg of his three nation visit to Europe, following the successful visit to Germany and now Sweden. In Denmark, His Holiness will be giving a five-day public teaching, a public talk on “Universal Responsibility” and he is also scheduled to meet the Danish Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the Danish Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs Committees at the Danish Parliament.
by Tsering Tashi (Office of Tibet, London)