DHARAMSHALA, April 18: University of Sydney in Australia, which has close links with China, has cancelled a talk by Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama scheduled on June 18 during his visit to Sydney.
The event was to be organized by the university's new Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR) at the Seymour Centre.
However, the university claims that it has never received any official request to host the Dalai Lama.
Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Cooperation, Sophie Bouris, one of the student organizer said, "We envisaged groups of students from Sydney University and other universities would be invited to the Seymour Centre and His Holiness would speak on the subject of why education matters, and they would be invited to ask him questions,"
Bouris further said that the Dalai Lama's event at the university started to get complicated weeks ago as she was told that neither the logo of Sydney University can be used nor marketing can be done or outside students, Tibetans and the media invited.
"And then, on April 2, the event was cancelled," Bouris said.
ABC 7:30 has obtained emails between IDHR director Professor John Keane and the University's Vice-chancellor, Michael Spence, which confirmed the decision to withdraw His Holiness speech at his university.
"This is to confirm that the decision was taken to withdraw our support for hosting His Holiness the Dalai Lama's planned speech at the University on June 18th," Professor Keane's email said.
"It will be moved to an off-campus location and ... no member of staff or associate of the IDHR will formally be involved in organising that event."
"I am of course happy to talk with you further about the reasons why we have taken these difficult decisions."
The cancellation of the Noble Laureate's speech at the University raised many serious questions.
Professor Stuart Rees, who works at the University of Sydney and also directs the Sydney Peace Foundation, said, "Whether they didn't think he was an appropriate person to have intellectually or politically, or whether they withdrew support because of outside pressures, I'm not sure."
"What has happened now raises the question of human rights in Tibet, human rights in China, freedom of speech across the University of Sydney, indeed across Australia."
The China Studies Centre at the University has close relationship with Chinese Government and businesses and admits that the centre was involved in the discussions about the Dalai Lama visit but said that it did not try to block it.
"This is an insult to the students and it also direct hit on the university's reputation for independence and for its capacity to exercise intellectual leadership," said the New South Wales Greens Parliamentarian John Kaye.
"I've never seen a university try to give up, and try to share with other universities, a jewel like having the Dalai Lama coming…People are very keen to see this man - a significant intellectual and political figure of the 21st Century." Kaye added.