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400 rally in Oslo against gov’t snub to visiting Dalai Lama

(TibetanReview.net, May02, 2014) Accusing Norway’s top government and parliament leaders of submitting to threats from China, about 400 people rallied outside the parliament building in Oslo on Apr 29 to show their support for the Dalai Lama’s visit from May 7 to 9, reported newsinenglish.no Apr 30.

“We cannot accept that they won’t meet the Dalai Lama. That is not the mandate we have given our elected officials, we cannot submit to force and threats,” Ann Kristin Espejord, one of the rally organizers, was quoted as telling Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “We will stand up for our values. This event is to show what we want, that we will have enough backbone to stand,” she was further quoted as saying, calling on the country’s politicians to “stop and think about this.”

The report said those who took part in the rally included Liberal (Venstre) party leader Trine Skei Grande, Greens (Miljøpartiet De Grønne) parliamentary representative Rasmus Hansson, Amnesty Norway’s general secretary Jon Peder Egenæs, the leader of the Norwegian Peace Council (Norges Fredsråd) Hedda Langemyr, as well as local actors, artists and other personalities.

Grande has made it clear that the Dalai Lama would not be received “in the basement” as the Chinese media had suggested, but would be brought to parliament to meet “as many politicians as we can manage to scrape together. We will show that people are concerned about the cowardice shown.”

The report cited academic Nina Witoszek and China expert Harald Bøckman as having written in the Aftenposten Apr 30 that the Norwegian government had “fallen to its knees” without a single promise from China about improving relations with Norway. “The Chinese like to use smaller countries as a laboratory to test its power. When they meet opposition, it seems they like to ‘hurt’ and begin to test how far they can go,” they were quoted as having written. And by refusing to meet with the Dalai Lama, the political leaders not only betray the principles on which the country is founded but also “the government loses the respect of the majority of Norwegian voters,” they have added.

They have suggested that King Harald receive the Dalai Lama instead.

However, while the visit is private, the Dalai Lama will receive the same levels of security as someone on an official visit, reported NRK. “The Dalai Lama and his entourage will at all times have security personnel around him, and we will arrange for a safe accomplishment of events,” Johan Fredriksen from Oslo police was quoted as saying.

The Dalai Lama is visiting Oslo on invitation from civil society groups and will also celebrate there the 25th anniversary of the conferment of the Novel Peace Prize on him.

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