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07may2011021333Dharamshala: - On May 4, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, received the inaugural edition of a "Shine a Light on Human Rights" award from the renowned human rights organisation Amnesty International in Long Beach, California. According to the website www.boingboing.net, His Holiness accepted the reward saying "I am just a single monk; no more, no less," later adding for the Amnesty volunteers and human rights advocates assembled, "Your work is good. Please continue."

Amnesty International's U.S. executive director Larry Cox, in an address before the handover of the award, said that the award honored the fact that he has "tirelessly and peacefully defended the rights of people everywhere" for over 50 years. Coinciding with the Dalai Lama receiving the first-of-its-kind award, this month also marks the 50th anniversary of the human rights organization's own founding.

"Individuals in some ways have more power than governments; the individuals, the artists, the activists who are compelled to change society--we must protect them", said His Holiness and added that "You must persist. If you believe that the goal of your work must materialize in your lifetime, it is wrong. It's still worthwhile, even if you never live to see it materialize."

Commenting on the ever decreasing freedom of information in Chinese society he said: "More soldiers, more [surveillance] cameras, they build mistrust and fear. Harmony is based on trust... so this is totally the wrong method. Censorship should not be there; there should be free information, a free press, and then an independent judiciary and gradual government change can follow. That will develop trust and harmony within China, and with the outside world. A closed society with no transparency creates suspicion.

"The lifespan of a totalitarian regime is generally longer than that of an elected government," he continued. "But China belongs to the Chinese people, and not the government. 1.3 billion Chinese people have the right to know reality, and to judge what is right and what is wrong for themselves" he also said.

In another occasion of celebrating the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama was bestowed with a honorary doctorate upon his arrival to the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The doctorate was given from the University of Minnesota where he is to give talks today and tomorrow. At the reception, the university thanked His Holiness for being an inspiration to all of them and conveyed their heartfelt gratitude for his presence.

Director May Jo Kereitzer said, "There is no one more appropriate for this honour than His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose vision for peace and non-violence has inspired thousands around the world."

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