Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is visiting the Northern German city of Hamburg. On Monday, much to the ire of Beijing, he made critical remarks about China. DW took part in a group interview with him.
Deutsche Welle: Your Holiness, please tell us about the human rights situation in Tibet.
Dalai Lama: It’s still very serious. About a month ago I met a Tibetan who spent eight years in a Chinese prison. His only crime, which took place in a village near Lhasa, was to express his own feelings.
China reacted harshly when you spoke about the issue of Tibet in Hamburg. Did that surprise you?
– Not at all. Even I live in silence. There’s always some sort of condemnation. They just keep going on like that.
What do you think of the German government’s stance toward Tibet? Do you think Berlin does enough for your cause?
– The German government is like other governments — basically sympathetic. Certainly there’s a sense of concern. The question is whether that’s adequate. We appreciate expressions of concern from the outside world. That’s necessary and helpful.
What are your goals when you visit other countries?
– My main purpose and motivation is not the issue of Tibet, but rather the promotion of human values in order to have happier individuals, families and communities — and, in that way, a happier humanity. I consider that to be my contribution. I think every human being has a responsibility to better the world. That’s my conviction, and I always try to promote that. My second goal is the promotion of religious harmony. When I teach in India, more and more Chinese come. Sometimes, the Chinese government puts up restrictions to prevent Chinese from coming to India. But despite that, some Chinese always come. Many of them say that, after seeing the Tibetan community, they found big difference s to what they had heard in China. Eventually there’s some positive impact.
You have said that you could be the last Dalai Lama. Could you please explain?
– As early as 1969, I made clear in an official statement that it was up to the Tibetan people whether or not the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue. That means that if the majority of the Tibetan people decide that the old institution of the Dalai Lama is no longer relevant to the Tibetan nation, it will cease to exist. If I were to die soon, I think most of the Tibetan people would want to keep the institution. If I live on 20 or 30 years, it might be different. That’s okay. That would be an end with dignity.
Do you ever hope to return to Tibet?
– Oh yes. All Tibetans get homesick and hope to see their own country. Me, too. But at the same time, I’m a Buddhist monk. So mentally and personally one’s own birthplace isn’t all that important. There’s a Tibetan saying: “Home is where you feel good, and your parents are anyone who does good things for you.” [Editors Note: The Dalai Lama said this in Tibetan, English translation from news reports.] I really enjoy the very positive atmosphere of Hamburg. In the past nine days, I really feel it’s my home. Many people, including those from the media, were full of smiles. Like friends.
DW’s Hans Jürgen Mayer participated in the interview with the Dalai Lama (jc)