Dalai Lama to visit


ADELAIDE - The 14th Dalai Lama, political and spiritual leader of Tibet, will visit Australia from April 29 to May 12, with one of his aims to publicise questions of human and national rights in Tibet, which has been occupied by China since 1949.

Despite recent Australian support of a UN resolution on human rights in Tibet, the Australian government will not recognise the visit, nor will Prime Minister Keating meet with the world- renowned statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. During his recent visit to Indonesia, Keating made it clear trade is a far higher priority than human rights for his government. Foreign minister Gareth Evans will meet with the visitor.

In more than 40 years of Chinese occupation, the Tibetan people have been subjected to gross human rights violations, including forced population transfers and attempts to suppress and marginalise the local culture.

UN resolution 1723 of 1961 recognises that before 1949 Tibet was an independent country with its own laws, visas, currency and postal system. The resolution calls for "the cessation of practices which deprive the Tibetan people of their fundamental human rights and freedoms, including their right to self- determination".

An Australian delegation to China and Tibet last year reported to the Senate that support for the Dalai Lama and independence remains high among Tibetans. Prominent Chinese, including physicist Fung Lizhi, have also called for Tibetan independence.

Since 1949, Tibet's environment has been severely damaged, its forests depleted and its wildlife endangered, largely by a population influx that has made the 6 million Tibetans a minority to 7.5 million Chinese. It has been used as a dumping ground for toxic waste and a base for China's military nuclear program.

Details of where the Dalai Lama will be speaking are available from the Australia Tibet Council on the following numbers: Adelaide, Liz Temple (08) 272 6874. Brisbane, Bob Gould (07) 395 5795. Sunshine Coast, Carol Albert (074) 41 1824. Hobart, Roger McLennan (002) 31 2509. Melbourne, Adam Bowles (03) 429 2347. Sydney, Paul Bourke (02) 417 1897.n