"The pen is mightier than the sword." For nearly a decade, Brahm has used newspaper articles, magazines and authored over 20 books to explain current affairs, reshape stalled negotiations, and provide a communication platform to Asian leaders and policymakers. His writings reveal underlying central challenges facing Asia over the past decades.

Dalai Lama Leads Prayers for Victims of Earthquake

Written by Josephine Ma - Published by South China Morning Post on 06/06/2008

Tibetan government-in-exile sends goodwill message

The Dalai Lama yesterday led his government-in-exile in a prayer ceremony for earthquake victims, sending a goodwill message to China ahead of the upcoming talks with representatives of the Chinese government.

The ceremony was held at the Tsuglagkhang Temple in Dharamsala, India.

It is also understood that a document containing the Dalai Lama’s statements clarifying his position supporting the Beijing Olympics, not seeking independence, and his creed of non-violence was being hand delivered to Beijing.

A banner expressing condolences in Chinese characters was hung at the main entrance of the monastery, an unusual sight in Dharamsala, while monasteries across India also held similar ceremonies yesterday morning, according to Lawrence Brahm, a columnist who participated in the ceremony.

The ceremony, which lasted for one hour and 15 minutes yesterday morning, was attended by Samdong Rimpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, together with all the members and staff of the exiled government.

“It is a very strong positive message to China. And this can be interpreted as the kind of gesture China has been waiting for,” Brahm said by telephone from Dharamsala.

“While China has repeatedly asked them [the Dalai Lama’s side] to exert some control over the protesters, stop all the protesters during the mourning period, it is the kind of gesture that goes beyond simple Dalai Lama himself saying prayers.”

Brahm said the ceremony was held yesterday because it was the opening day of the month-long Sagadawa festival commemorating the birth of Buddha.

“The choice of this date for prayers is particularly significant and demonstrates the sympathy of his holiness and the exiled government for the Chinese people, and through prayers to calm people so there are no potential disruptions on June 4,” he said referring to the 1989 military crackdown in Beijing.

Violent protests broke out in Tibet and other Tibetan-populated areas in March, the anniversary of the 1959 failed uprising against Chinese rule. Mainland authorities reported that 19 people including a policemen were killed in the anti-government riots – the worst in Tibet in decades.

The crackdown on the riots prompted Tibetan protests around the world. Some protesters who took advantage of the Olympic torch relay staged demonstrations demanding a boycott of the Olympics and a scrapping of the torch relay.

In Tibet yesterday, security was tightened at the beginning of the Buddhist festival.

“The deployment of armed police was increased because of the religious festival and as a response to some threatening remarks made by some Tibetan separatists recently,” a government spokesman said by telephone from Lhasa.

“Tibetan separatists have said publicly that they were preparing to ‘take some actions.’ We certainly have to increase police deployment in response to ensure people’s safety at the festival.”

In a reference to the March riots, Zhang Qingli, the Communist Party boss in Tibet, was quoted by the Tibet Daily as hailing the return to normalcy as a “partial victory.”

“This is just the beginning of a new round of struggle against the Dalai clique and the hostile western forces that support it,” Mr Zhang was quoted saying on the newspapers website.

“A more arduous, complicated and intense struggle is yet to come. The situation is still serious.”

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