(TibetanReview.net, Jul15, 2015) – Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was welcomed by the Vice President of the German Parliament, Mrs Claudia Roth, two city mayors, prominent local leaders and others during his three-day visit to the German state of Hesse beginning Jul 12. The visit was organized by the German group “Friends for a Friend” and the Tibetan Community in Germany. Tibetans from across Europe travelled to Frankfurt for the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday celebrations.
His programmes included giving an open-air public talk on compassion in the Kurpark of the state capital Wiesbaden. Greetings were delivered to him at the venue for his 80th birthday by Mrs Roth, a Green Party leader, as well as by the city mayor Mr Anno Gossmann and the former Prime Minister of Hesse Mr Roland Koch. Some 12,000 people attended the event.
On Jul 13, the Lord Mayor of Frankfurt, Mr Peter Feldmann, hosted a reception for the Dalai Lama in the Kaisersaal, the historic reception room for all state guests, in the City Hall “Römer”. He later visited the nearby Museum of Applied Arts, where he delivered a talk on “Taking care of others”. The event included a conversation with around 70 students of secondary schools from across Germany.
During the city hall reception, the Dalai Lama referred to the Shugden worshippers who were protesting against him outside, saying: “These demonstrators you can hear shouting outside are raising an issue that has been controversial for almost 400 years. It relates to the worship of something the 5th Dalai Lama dismissed as an evil spirit. Out of ignorance I myself took part in this practice from 1950s to 1970s, until I investigated it and discovered it was not a good thing to do. I stopped the practice and explained what I had learned to other people. The people protesting here formed their organization in opposition to that advice.”
Later in the afternoon, the Dalai Lama attended celebrations for his 80th birthday organized by the Tibetan Community in Germany in the Jahrhunderthalle. Greetings were delivered to him and the audience of more than 2000 people, including Tibetans from across Europe, by Mr Thomas Mann (Member of the European Parliament from Hesse since 1999), Michael Brand (Member of German Parliament) and Prof Dr Christian Schwarz-Schilling (former German Minister). The head of the exile Tibetan administration at Dharamshala, India, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay also spoke.
Chinese painter Meng Huang, who had travelled to Tibet, offered to the Dalai Lama a painting featuring pagodas and a Tibetan chörten which he said was entitled ‘Sorry’. “As a Han Chinese, I would like to express my sorrow for what the Tibetan people have had to suffer,” he was quoted as saying.
On Jul 14 morning, the Dalai Lama visited the Wiesbaden City Hall and the Hesse Parliament. Mayor Grossman escorted him to the City Hall where the Speaker of the Civic Assembly welcomed him on behalf of the citizens of Wiesbaden. Referring to his message of peace, humanity and respect for life delivered two days earlier at the Kurpark, the Speaker said, “You touch the hearts and minds of all who hear you. On behalf of the citizens of Wiesbaden I thank you and welcome you to the most beautiful city in the German Republic.”
The Dalai Lama later visited the Hesse Parliament, located a short walk across the square from the City Hall. President Norbert Kartmann welcomed him on behalf of the people of the state and told him he was proud to receive him in the presence of the Hesse Prime Minister, and His Holiness’s old friend, Volker Bouffier and leaders of the various political groups who made up the parliament, namely the Greens, Liberals, the elders and so forth.
The Dalai Lama held a separate meeting with Mr Bouffier and his Vice Prime Minister Tarek Al-Wazar before driving to Frankfurt Airport to board a plane for New Delhi. India.
“Friends for a Friend” was set-up 10 years ago to support the Dalai Lama’s message of peace and compassion and the Tibetan freedom struggle. This was the Dalai Lama’s 39th visit to Germany.