Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, gets a helping hand as he leaves a plane upon his arrival at the airport in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday, July 19, 2007. The Dalai Lama is on a ten-day-visit in the northern German town of Hamburg. (AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer)
Hamburg - The Dalai Lama began a 10-day visit to Germany on Thursday with criticism of China's human-rights record in his native Tibet.
"There have been no improvements in Tibet," the Tibetan spirtual and political leader said as he signed Hamburg's golden book at a reception in city hall.
"There is no religious freedom and there are violations of human rights," the 72-year-old said of the homeland which was invaded by communist Chinese forces in 1950 and which remains under Chinese control.
Since the Tibetan resistance movement collapsed in 1959, the Dalai Lama has lived in India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based.
The Tibetan leader also criticized China's policy of settling ethnic Han Chinese in Tibet. "Two-thirds of all Tibetans are now Chinese," he said.
The Dalai Lama is in Germany to take part in a major international gathering of Buddhists in Hamburg.
He arrived by private jet shortly before noon to a welcome by members of the Tibetan Centre in the north German port.
On Friday, the Dalai Lama is due to deliver the keynote speech at a conference of Buddhist nuns organized by the University of Hamburg.
Highlight of the visit, the Dalai Lama's fifth to Hamburg, is a series of lectures he is to deliver at the weekend to some 30,000 Buddhists from around the world at the Hamburg tennis stadium.
A charismatic figure and noted public speaker, the Dalai Lama will be talking about "Compassion in the globalized world" and discuss the 400 Verses of Indian master Aryadeva.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1989 for his efforts to achieve a non-violent solution to the Tibetan problem, will also take part in a panel discussion on "Learning peace - the practice of non-violence."
A survey published by the German news magazine Der Spiegel this week showed that Germans like the Dalai Lama more than they do their native-born Pope Benedict XVI.
The Dalai Lama enjoyed a particularly high popularity rating among the young and better educated, according to the survey conducted by the TNS research organization.