UK politicians under pressure over Dalai Lama

Boris Johnson refuses to meet Dalai Lama
Boris Johnson in China
21st September 2015

Parties respond to Free Tibet campaign - but government silent

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson are coming under increasing pressure to stand up to China's bullying and extend official welcomes to the Dalai Lama. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism is visiting the UK this week and next. China's government objects violently to any meetings between political leaders and the Dalai Lama.

London welcomes the Dalai Lama

The Mayor of London has so far refused to respond to our request to him to offer a welcome to the Dalai Lama. However, the Green and Labour Party groups on the London Assembly (the elected body which scrutinises the work of the Mayor) have backed our call to him. The Labour group, which is the largest in the Assembly, has extended its own invitation to the Tibetan leader. Len Duvall, leader of the Labour group, told Free Tibet:

“With His Holiness a strong advocate for all that is fair and humane, it is an honour to have him visit our wonderful, diverse city. Our capital is resolutely dedicated to the values of tolerance, respect and freedom. If there is an opportunity to meet with the Dalai Lama to discuss how we can ensure these values reach all Londoners, of course we’d take it.”

Jenny Jones, of the Green Party said:

“The Dalai Lama is rightly respected and loved across the world as an advocate for peace and compassion. A global figure of such popularity and importance should be welcomed in London, not shunned in London.Boris Johnson should pay respect to a great leader - and show Beijing and the world that London is big enough and strong enough not to trade away its values in the hope of a fast buck.”

The Mayor, however, is a strong advocate of close ties with Beijing and in a UK TV channel interview in China in 2013, made strenuous efforts to avoid even mentioning the Dalai Lama's name.

Downing St stays silent

Earlier this week, we delivered a 4,300-signature petition the Prime Minister calling on Mr Cameron to meet the Dalai Lama. Following a letter that we sent to them, the Green Party in the UK has just confirmed that it will make a statement welcoming the Dalai Lama and expressing their appreciation for him.

Free Tibet has also contacted other UK political party leaders. New national Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is known to be a long-standing supporter of Tibet, although the then-Labour Government in 2008 provoked anger in the Tibet movement by giving unqualified British endorsement to China's rule over Tibet for the first time since it was invaded.

Take action

Tibetans in Tibet risk imprisonment and torture for showing signs of loyalty to the Dalai Lama - even carrying his photograph is a crime.

The Dalai Lama is in London until next week. If you live in London, please keep up the pressure on Mayor Boris Johnson to meet the Dalai Lama. China's President Xi Jinping will visit the USA next week and the UK next month (dates to be confirmed).

You can send messages to US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond via our website to demand that they speak up for Tibet. Please also watch this website for information about protests and other actions taking place during both visits.