Gordon Brown appeases Chinese Government by refusing to meet Dalai Lama at Downing Street

Monday, 12 May 2008

Free Tibet Campaign is dismayed to learn that Gordon Brown is refusing to meet the Dalai Lama at Downing Street during the latter’s visit to Britain later this month. The Times reported today that Gordon Brown’s meeting with the Dalai Lama will take place instead at Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is understood that other religious leaders will also be at the meeting on May 23, enabling the Prime Minister to tell Chinese leaders that he is meeting the Dalai Lama in a religious rather than political capacity.

Anne Holmes, Acting Director of Free Tibet Campaign, wrote to the Prime Minister on hearing rumours that he not would meet the Dalai Lama at Downing Street, saying: “You will be the first world leader to meet the Dalai Lama since the current unrest began in Tibet and Tibetan regions of China. It is crucial at this time that the Dalai Lama be recognised for what he is: the legitimate symbol of the Tibetan people’s struggle for self-determination. Nothing could make this plainer than a meeting at 10 Downing St.”

Last year George Bush, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel all faced down Chinese diplomatic pressure by receiving the Dalai Lama either in their offices or, in George Bush’s case, by conferring the US’ highest civilian honour on the Dalai Lama on Capitol Hill. Merkel went as far as to say that she would decide whom to meet and where, commenting: “I cannot sacrifice my principles for the sake of a trade relationship with China.”

Anne Holmes commented on today’s announcement: “By meeting the Dalai Lama at Lambeth Palace Brown has signalled his determination to appease the Chinese government. The Prime Minister must immediately reconsider his position and agree to meet the Dalai Lama at Downing St which is where he would meet any other world leader. The overwhelming message from Tibetans during recent protests inside Tibet was for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, showing that he is still considered the legitimate voice of the Tibetan people and that he holds the key to a lasting negotiated settlement.”

Ends

Matt Whitticase
Press Officer, Free Tibet Campaign

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For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
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