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Dalai Lama awards Desmond Tutu, Tintin.

BRUSSELS, June 2 Kyodo


Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Thursday awarded the annual Light of Truth Award to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Herge Foundation, which carries on the legacy of the author of the world famous Tintin cartoons, of which one is set in Tibet.

''I want to accept this award on behalf of the heroes and the heroines of our struggle who usually do not get mentioned,'' Archbishop Desmond Tutu remarked on receiving the Light of Truth Award 2006 from the Dalai Lama, who is currently visiting Belgium.

The International Campaign for Tibet since 1995 awards institutions or individuals who have made contributions to Tibet, a former independent region which China considers one of its provinces ever since it invaded it fifty years ago.

Winners receive a Tibetan butter lamp, symbolizing the light they have shed on the case of Tibet.

Former award laureates include author Elie Wiesel in 2005, former Czech President Vaclav Havel in 2004, and film director Martin Scorsese in 1998 for his movie ''Kundun.''

Earlier this week the Dalai Lama opened one of the biggest European Buddhist temples in Huy, southern Belgium.

On Thursday morning the spiritual leader had a private meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.

''The Dalai Lama is a remarkable man, the holiest man I've ever met,'' Archbishop Tutu said at the ceremony.

''I give great thanks to God for having created a Dalai Lama.''

Tutu compared the fight against apartheid with the situation the Tibetans find themselves in currently.

''We in South Africa suffered under the evil system of apartheid, the world supported us and we have won a spectacular victory over injustice. I want to assure Tibetans that because this is a moral universe, ultimately they too will win out against oppression and injustice.''

''China is an emerging superpower. I ask the Chinese government to work with this peaceful man and to give this man his country back,'' Tutu pleaded forcefully.

''There is no way that evil can have the last word. The people of Tibet are on the winning side. One day, one day, one day they will be free,'' he added cheered by the audience.

Tutu also reminded listeners about the matter of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose house arrest was prolonged by another year by Myanmar's military government last weekend.

''I would like to dedicate this wonderful award to our sister, Nobel Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi,'' he urged.

''Can you imagine that a military junta, armed to the teeth, is scared of a little woman? We want to say to them: you have lost. We want to go to Rangoon to the inaugural ceremony of Aung San Suu Kyi as president of Burma (Myanmar). Freedom is unstoppable. Love is unstoppable.''

Tutu ended his speech with a bow to the Dalai Lama, and the audience which gave him a standing ovation in return.

A Light of Truth Award also went to the Herge Foundation, which continues the legacy of Tintin's spiritual father, Georges Remi, better know under his pen name Herge, ever since his death in 1983.

The adventures of Tintin and his dog Snowy have not only become a favorite of many European children and grown-ups, fans in Japan and Tibet can also read the stories translated into their own language.

The first book was published in 1958 and tells the story of young Tintin's visit to Tibet. With the reader the author explores the rich culture and customs of the Tibetan people.

In 1994 a huge and successful exposition on the graphic novel ''Tintin in Tibet'' was held in Brussels. It explained Tibetan culture and the role of the Chinese invasion. Visitors could also see what daily life of Tibetan people was like and how it was influenced by the presence of the Chinese.

The expo was so successful at the time that it traveled to Spain and Holland.

Years later, the Herge Foundation came into conflict with the Chinese authorities, who wanted to republish the story under the title ''Tintin in China's Tibet.'' In 2001 China had to give in and rectified the cover to its original title ''Tintin in Tibet.''

''Herge would never have thought that 40 years after its initial publication his story would have sounded so loud still,'' founder and President of the Herge Foundation Fanny Rodwell sighed, touched by receiving the award.

In a reaction, the Dalai Lama, speaking in Tibetan, praised the role the young journalist and his dog play in the fight for a free Tibet.

''It gives us courage and sustains us greatly to know that Tintin helps us in the fight for our rights,'' the Dalai Lama said.

''We should not only treat the symptoms, but must go to the core of the problem, namely, why are human rights for Tibetans not respected?''

He indicated the lack of respect for the environment which nowadays not only threatens Tibet but a large region around it and is one of the main problems which need to be dealt with urgently.

''The Brahmaputra, the Yangtze and the Yellow River are but some of the rivers which well up in Tibet. Billions of people depend on the water of these rivers every day,'' he said.

''Lack of respect for nature in Tibet is a threat not only for Tibetans, but for the inhabitants of China and India as well.''

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 when Chinese troops brutally pushed down a demonstration for the rights of Tibetans in Lhasa. He has lived in Dharamsala in northern India ever since.

''I want to pass on the message here that once the problems Tibet has with China are solved, this will not only be good for the region, but the whole world will benefit from it,'' the Dalai Lama stated.

A visit by Chinese authorities to an exposition on Tibet and the XIV Dalai Lamas at the World Museum in Rotterdam due to open next week, however, proved that even mere wording of the issue remains a sensitive area.

''The Chinese were not happy about the wording we chose for describing the history of Tibet,'' Director Stanley Bremer told Dutch radio Thursday.

''They did not want us to say that the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet, nor that China 'invaded' Tibet, but as we are a museum, a free haven for freedom of speech, we did not give in.''

''It is very important that a multicultural city like Rotterdam can protect this right.''

Representatives of the International Campaign for Tibet at the occasion of the Light of Truth Ceremony also said their institute will soon open a new office in Brussels.

After Holland and Germany, Belgium will be the third European country where the ICT is represented.

One of the distinguished guests to the ceremony was Chen Chien-Jen, representative of Taiwan to Belgium.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jun 5, 2006
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