Dalai Lama criticises anti-whaling protesters

AFP, June 19, 2010

TOKYO, Japan -- The Dalai Lama on Saturday criticised wildlife activists for staging what he said were violent protests over Japan's hunting of whales.

The rebuke came as the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader visited Japan for an 11-day lecture tour.

At a news conference, he said he had told the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to stop its violent harassment of Japan's whaling fleet.

"One time I wrote a letter...(saying) their activities should be stopping," he told reporters.

The Dalai Lama said he supported Sea Shepherd's goal of preventing whalers from harming the giant sea mammals but added that "their (activities) should be non-violent".

Japan's annual whale hunt -- carried out under a loophole to an international moratorium that allows killing for what it calls scientific research -- has long been criticised by conservationists.

Japanese prosecutors have demanded two years in prison for a New Zealand anti-whaling activist on trial for assault and charges relating to his boarding of a harpoon ship in Antarctic waters.

The Dalai Lama, who has no plans to meet government ministers during the visit, will give a public lecture Sunday in Nagano prefecture, hosted by monks of the Zenkoji Buddhist temple.

He will then offer a lecture on Buddhism Tuesday in Ishikawa prefecture, followed by a sermon and a speech on June 26 in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner escaped Tibet in 1959 in disguise on horseback to start life in exile in India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

He praised his host nation, saying he hoped to promote "harmony" which has been cherished in India for more than 1,000 years.