(TibetanReview.net, Oct28, 2015) – The National Constitution Center in the US city of Philadelphia on Oct 26 presented its 2015 Liberty Medal award to Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, albeit in absentia. He could not travel to receive the award after doctors in the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, advised him in Sep 2015 to take complete rest for several weeks. He was presented the 2015 Liberty Medal for his work in promoting human rights worldwide.
While announcing the award, the National Constitution Center president and CEO Jeffrey Rosen said, “In his advocacy for Tibetans and for human rights worldwide, the Dalai Lama has always emphasized the ideals of freedom, dialogue and tolerance.”
Among those who took part in the award ceremony, which was held at the National Constitution Center, were Hollywood star and Dalai Lama supporter Mr Richard Gere as well as Mayor Michael Nutter. And the award was accepted on Dalai Lama’s behalf by his principal English translator Dr Thupten Jinpa and the founder and chair of the Mind and Life Institute Dr Richie Davidson.
Gere spoke about the Dalai Lama’s achievements, calling him “one of the great ones” who “wants nothing more than our happiness.”
A video tribute prepared by the National Constitution Center included remarks by the US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, former US President George W Bush, US Senator Dianne Feinstein, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, and international writer Pico Iyer.
In a video statement of his own, the Dalai Lama regretted not being able to attend while reiterating his commitment until his death to promoting human value, including liberty.
Worshippers of a controversial 17th century Tibetan spirit called Dolgyal, or Shugden, who have been carrying out a vicious smear campaign against the Dalai Lama, tried to spoil the atmosphere by flying a plane which circled over the Constitution Center as the award ceremony neared, trailing a banner that read, “False Dalai Lama Give Religious Freedom & Rights”, according to philly.com Oct 26.
The report said the evening event was expected to draw about 3,000 to 4,000 Tibetans from exile communities in Washington, New York, and Canada. However, due to the Dalai Lama’s absence, the Tibetan crowd was small and local.
The Liberty Medal, given annually, was founded in 1988 to commemorate the bicentennial of the US Constitution and to honor people who show “courage and conviction, who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.”
The centre, a private, nonprofit organization, serves as America’s leading platform for constitutional education and debate, fulfilling its Congressional charter “to disseminate information about the US Constitution on a non-partisan basis.”
Past recipients have included Nobel Peace laureates or who went on to win the prize. The Dalai Lama is the first religious figure to receive the award.