His Holiness the Dalai Lama prostrates before start of his two day teaching in Riga, Latvia on May 5, 2014. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
DHARAMSHALA, MAY 6: The Representative of the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Northern Europe has said that Norwegian government’s refusal to meet the Tibetan leader will send a “chilling signal” to Tibetans in Tibet where 131 Tibetans have immolated themselves since 2009.
"What I think the Norwegian government should consider is that by not meeting the Dalai Lama, they are sending a chilling signal to Tibetans in Tibet, and that is exactly what the Chinese want," Thubten Samdup told Norway's NRK network.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende told reporters last week that no representatives from the Norwegian government would meet the Dalai Lama inviting protests from Norwegians.
He warned that decision of Norway, a country that hosts and awards the Nobel Peace Prize, to turn its back on a former recipient of the prestigious award will set a "wrong precedent" to other countries.
"They may follow suit. They will think that if Norwegian leaders failed to meet the Dalai Lama, we can get away with it too," Samdup, who is travelling with the Tibetan leader, was quoted as saying.
The Tibetan leader, Samdup said was "not surprised" by the pressure Norway is under from China who regards him as a “separatist”. The Tibetan leader maintains that he does not want to strain relations between the countries he is visiting and China.
The Tibetan leader has been invited to Norway for an event marking 25 years since the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. On the morning of May 9, he has been invited to parliament by Ketil Kjenseth, from Norway's Liberal Democrat party, but will not meet any representative from the government, leading to a protest outside parliament against the government.
Norwegian parliament president Olemic Thommessen, who until August last year headed the Norwegian Parliamentary group for Tibet, and incumbent Conservative (H) Prime Minister Erna Solberg have announced their decisions not to meet the Tibetan leader to “improve ties with Beijing” with whom Norway had no political contacts since jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said he lost respect for Norway after Norwegian politicians have said that they will not meet with the Dalai Lama this week.
“I have had great respect for Norway, and looked at you as a moral superpower in the world. Norway supported the struggle against apartheid in all the years, and there was close contact between churches, trade unions, intellectuals, and politicians. Turning your back to the Dalai Lama is also turning your back on what you have stood for,” NRK quoted Tutu as saying.
Svein Melby, a Norwegian expert in international affairs, tweeted that Oslo's decision sets "a dangerous precedent that undermines the right to decide ourselves who we want to visit our own country".