Blair ‘snubs’ Dalai Lama

Tony Blair was today accused of snubbing one of the world’s great spiritual leaders, after refusing a meeting with the Dalai Lama.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader – who preaches non-violence in his country’s struggle for independence from China – will visit the UK in May, but has been rejected for an audience with the prime minister.

Philippa Carrick, chief executive of the Tibet Society, said: “The Dalai Lama deserves better than Tony Blair’s feeble fob-off response.”

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The Tibet Society said that, in the context of the global fight against terrorism, the prime minister should take the opportunity to support a man who has always urged his followers to use peaceful means in the struggle for their independence.

But Downing Street said Mr Blair had declined the request for a meeting purely because of “diary pressures”.

Ms Carrick added: “Tibet’s spiritual leader has set a model of peaceful governance that should be applauded, not shunned.

“At this critical time for the world community, we must be seen to support those who don’t resort to terrorism to fight for their human rights. Otherwise, what alternative is there to violence?

“If we ignore Tibet, we further the cause of global terror.”

A Tibet Society spokesman added: “Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell told the Chinese government in December 2003 that talking with the Dalai Lama’s representatives was “the best way forward” to resolve the Tibet issue. But if Tony Blair chooses to snub the Dalai Lama, why should the Chinese listen?”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The prime minister gets lots of requests for meetings, but because of diary pressures this one isn’t possible on this occasion.”

The Dalai Lama, who has led the campaign for Tibetan independence from China since fleeing into exile in 1959, is due to speak in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dunfermline during his visit to the UK from May 28 to June 3.

Mr Blair, an Anglican and keen churchgoer, faced wide opposition to his support for the war on Iraq from the Christian church, with the Pope categorically against military action, and the Archbishop of Canterbury highly sceptical.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Guardian, UK
Jan. 9, 2004
Matthew Tempest and agencies
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday January 9, 2004.
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