Thursday, January 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Karmapa wants to stay on
From Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

DHARAMSALA, Jan 12 — The 17th Karmapa, dubbed as the “Living Buddha” at last broke his silence, today.

“Coming to Dharamsala, has been a pilgrimage for me”, said the 14-year-old Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, while talking to a delegation of the Bharat Tibet Maitri Sang. The delegation called on him at the Gyuto Tantrik monastery, near here, where he has been housed.

Speaking through an interpreter, the Karmapa said: “It is my desire to stay in Dharamsala and continue my religious studies”. The delegation congratulated him for his safe arrival here and urged him to stay on.

He also told the delegates that India was the land of all religions and he would like to stay here. He expressed his gratitude to the delegation members for helping the Tibetans in their cause.

Tibetans from as far as Sikkim, are reaching here to seek the blessings of the Karmapa, but only a few are being granted audience. Some of the followers from the Sherbaling monastery in Bhattu near Baijnath and the Rumtuk monastery of Sikkim, were allowed to meet the head of the Kagyu sect. Others, who are not being allowed to see him are leaving the traditional scarves along with other offerings with the Tibetan security personnel, on duty at the Gyuto monastery.

With rumours about the Karmapa being shifted to the Sherbaling monastery, near Baijnath, the place has been decked up and welcome gates have been erected for receiving the head of the Kagyu sect.

The police has tightened security at the Gyuto monastery, where the Karmapa, has been staying for the past three days. In view of the grave threat to the life of the Karmapa, the windows at the monastery and of his room have been provided with grills.

Meanwhile great significance is being attached to the meeting between the Karmapa and the head monk of the Rumtuk monastery, here on Wednesday.

According to sources, the head monk of the Rumtuk monastery, in Sikkim, along with a few others had an audience with the Karmapa. The head monk, Gyaltsen, met the Karmapa, in the morning with 10 others. Another important figure to have met the Karmapa, yesterday, is the assistant of the 16th Karmapa, who also came here from Sikkim. The assistant Lode Sherap, met Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, yesterday.

The arrival of the high monks from the Ramtung monastery, which is the most important monastery and the seat of the Kagyu sect, is being considered significant.

With the Indian Government remaining tight-lipped and silent over the matter of granting political asylum to the Karmapa, the arrival of the maternal uncle of the Karmapa, here, is being considered important. It is reliably learnt that he was not allowed to meet the Karmapa, but had a talk with Ogyen Trinley Dorjee’s sister, who has accompanied him in his flight from Tibet.

Karmapa’s uncle, Namgyal Gompo, has been residing in Germany for the past many years and holds the German citizenship. Top Tibetan officials on the condition of anonymity said Namgyal Gompo, is close to the Chinese and today asked the Karmapa’s sister to return to China, along with her brother. He is also learnt to have scolded them for taking the drastic step of running away from Tibet.

Following the frosty silence being maintained by the Indian Government over the matter of political asylum, it is learnt that the Karmapa, might seek other options. Tibetan circles pointed out that he could even go to Chicago, where there is a huge monastery, set up by the 16th Karmapa. They point out that the visit of the US Assistant Secretary, Ms Julia Taft, at this juncture assumes great significance. During her trip to McLeodganj, she is learnt to have discussed the matter of political asylum for the Karmapa, with Tibetan ministers and senior officials.

A high-level team from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Home Ministry is expected here tomorrow. They are likely to meet the officials of the Tibetan Government-in-exile in connection with the political asylum issue.



Govt remains silent
Tribune News Service and PTI

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 — The Indian Government continued to remain tight-lipped on the status of the Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa Lama who arrived in India from Lhasa last week.

Despite many questions on the present status of the Karmapa Lama, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesman declined to state anything.

When asked about the government’s response to a request for granting political asylum to the 14-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, the spokesman said: “We have not received any formal request” for giving asylum to the Karmapa Lama.

To a question about the whereabouts of the Tibetan leader, the spokesman said: “He is at present in India”.

The Karmapa Lama’s presence in India should be seen in the context of India’s historical and cultural ties with Tibet, the spokesman pointed out. Asked whether the Karmapa was being encouraged to go abroad, the spokesman said: “I am not aware that he has expressed a desire to move from where is at present”. Asked to respond to the Chinese official spokesman’s statement yesterday, the spokesman said the five Panchshila principles governed not only the relations between India and China but between all sovereign nations.

To a question whether the Chinese Government had taken up the issue diplomatically or through other channels, the spokesman said: “I have nothing on that”.

Replying to whether it meant that the Chinese Government had not approached India on the Karmapa issue, the spokesman said: “I haven’t said that”. On the US State Department spokesman, James Rubin’s call to China to improve the human rights situation in Tibet, he said the matter was not for India to comment on.

The Congress today declined to comment on the issue of granting political asylum to the Karmapa. “The Congress will not comment on the issue till we have all the details,” party spokesman Ajit Jogi told reporters.



Hold talks with Dalai Lama: USA

WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (PTI) — The USA has called upon China to resume dialogue with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to preserve Tibet’s unique cultural heritage following reports that Beijing had launched a crackdown on the Tsurphu monastery in Lhasa which the 17th Karmapa fled.

“We call on China to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama to preserve Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and ethnic heritage,” State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters at a press briefing yesterday.

The USA, he said, had been disturbed about the human rights situation in Tibet and restrictions on Tibetan Buddhism.

The USA was also concerned about reports that the monastery in the Tibetan capital which the Lama fled had been raided and two monks arrested, he said. “We will be trying to confirm this report.

“We have seen reports,” said Mr Rubin, “that officials of the Tibetan Government-in-exile have requested the Indian Foreign Ministry to grant him asylum. We have no information about the status of any asylum request.”

The Indian Government said yesterday in New Delhi it had received no “formal request” for asylum but that any decision would be viewed in the context of historically close ties with Tibet. An External Affairs Ministry official said he was “not aware” of any communication from Beijing on the issue.

In a veiled warning yesterday, China, which has occupied Tibet since 1951, had said political asylum to the Karmapa would be inconsistent with the principles of Panchsheel.

The Karmapa, the third highest Tibetan leader, fled China on December 31 with three of his followers, including his sister, and reached the headquarters of the Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamsala last Wednesday.

He heads the Kagyu sect of Buddhism.

UNI adds: The USA has said “repression of religious activity” by China forced the 14-year-old Karmapa to flee to India and called upon the Chinese Government “to enter into a dialogue” with the Dalai Lama.

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