.dirtee codah. on Tue, 5 Feb 2002 08:27:01 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Dalai Lama address is silenced in Parliament

Dalai Lama address is silenced in Parliament


The Federal Government has banned the Dalai Lama from delivering a 
nationally televised address at Parliament House, on the grounds the event 
would be inappropriate.

The National Press Club, which was to have hosted the proceedings, 
confirmed yesterday that permission to use Great Hall on May 27 had been 

The club's general manager, Frank Crew, said he learnt of the decision 
second-hand, via the Great Hall's catering department.

"All they could tell us was that they received a Joint House directive 
stating that the function was deemed inappropriate," Mr Crew said. "It was 
their understanding the decision was made after the Department of Foreign 
Affairs and Trade was consulted."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, confirmed that Mr 
Downer advised the Joint House Department on the proposed use of the venue 
by the exiled Tibetan leader.

"The advice was that the Dalai Lama's presence in Parliament House's Great 
Hall could be read by some as conveying an impression of recognition that 
the Australian Government believes is inappropriate," she said, declining 
to give details on what might have prompted the minister's change of heart.

In 1996 Mr Downer and the Prime Minister, John Howard, met the Buddhist 
leader when he toured Australia. Mr Howard stressed he was meeting the 
Dalai Lama in his capacity as a religious and not political leader. Beijing 
responded by threatening trade sanctions, while the People's Daily 
newspaper, the Communist Party mouthpiece, accused Australia of being "in 
league with the devil".

The director of Canberra's Buddhist Tibetan Society, Lama Shoedak, who 
hosted a reception for the Dalai Lama in Parliament House's Great Hall in 
1996, accused the Government yesterday of failing to stand on its own two feet.

"The Government shows its weakness by allowing itself to be told off by 
China," he said. "This is a completely shameful decision."

Democrat Senator Vicki Bourne described the decision as outrageous, saying: 
"I hope this action by the Foreign Minister is not intended to appease the 
Chinese Government by preventing further public exposure of their appalling 
human rights record in Tibet."

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