Dalai Lama's exclusion criticized

By Loa Iok-sin, Taipei Times, Mar 30, 2009

Taipei, Taiwan -- Taiwan Friends of Tibet chairwoman Chow Mei-li yesterday accused the World Buddhist Forum of politically interfering in religion by refusing to invite the Dalai Lama to the forum because China considers the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader to be a “separatist.”

“We are shocked by the fact that World Buddhist Forum refused to invite the Dalai Lama because the Dalai Lama supports Tibet independence [sic], and we condemn the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] for politically controlling, polluting and repressing religion,” Chow said during a conference in Taipei on the development of liberalism in China. “Since when was a personal political view a criterion for participating in a forum about Buddhism?”

Buddhist leaders in China took the initiative to organize the first World Buddhist Forum last year with the stated aim of creating a platform for Buddhists around the world to discuss the religion.

This year’s forum is being organized by Buddhist leaders in China and Taiwan. The forum opened in China on Friday and moves to Taipei today.

The forum’s spokesman, Chinese Buddhist Master Shih Mingsheng, was quoted by the Hong Kong-based Singtao Daily on Friday as saying that the Dalai Lama had not been invited because “he did not give up [seeking] independence for Tibet” and “did not stop activities to break up China.

Meanwhile, an official of the Tibetan government-in-exile told the Taipei Times on condition of anonymity that all the Tibetan Buddhist leaders attending this year’s forum are known to have close ties to and relations with the CCP’s leadership and therefore could no be said to truly represent Tibetan Buddhism.

“Recognized and estimated leaders of Tibetan Buddhism’s four sects are all living in exile,” the official said. “None of them were invited to the World Buddhist Forum.”