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12september20099Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Tibetan Dalai Lama said yesterday at a press conference held by the Forum 2000 foundation in Prague, "Democracy is the universal value, now in Asia....in China, there are people, especially among the intellectuals, who are working hard for democracy, openness and an independent judicial system."  On Thursday in Prague His Holiness called upon the West to advocate for a more active role in the development of democracy in China and elsewhere in Asia.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with the former Czech president Vaclav Havel yesterday in the Czech capital. He thanked to Mr. Havel for his great support of Tibetan people. "I pray for your health.  The world needs you, and we Tibetans need you, too."

The Tibetan leader, who is attending a human rights conference in Prague, also reiterated that Tibet was not seeking independence from China, but wanted to gain genuine autonomy and ensure that Tibetans' human rights are observed.  He asserted that separation would not contribute to Tibet's development, and that he wanted Tibetans and Chinese to remain one big family.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also voiced opposition against the use of violence. "Force brings fear, and fear destroys trust. Harmony will never happen without trust. Western countries should support the democratization process in Asia because democracy, along with freedom of expression and freedom of faith, is a universal value," His Holiness said.  He dedicated his speech to religious harmony and human rights.

His Holiness also welcomed the presence of Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer at the conference. He said he admired Ms. Kadeer mainly because she was promoting observance of human rights of minorities in a non-violent form.  Ms. Kadeer, leader of ethnic Uyghurs who oppose Chinese governance in Eastern Turkestan, along with the Tibetan spiritual leader, is one of the most prominent exile fighters for human rights in China.

The Tibetan leader said that he did not arrive in the Czech Republic for political reasons. He said that he was promoting universal human values, democracy and openness in Prague, and that he wants to discuss these values with the participants of the Forum 2000.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, returned to Prague after less then one year since his prior visit. He has visited the Czech Republic many times, first visiting in 1990 at the invitation of Havel who was then Czech president.

At the press conference Thursday, His Holiness expressed support for Burmese politician Aun San Suu Kyi, fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner. The Burmese authorities have recently prolonged Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest by 18 months. Although she was at home alone, millions of her supporters across the world were "spiritually" together with her, His Holiness said.

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