The Dalai Lama arrived in Berlin today to honor three prominent Tibet supporters with ICT’s Light of Truth award. On behalf of ICT, the Dalai Lama will present the award to Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, Dr. Otto Graf Lamdsdorff of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Mrs. Irmtraut Waeger of Deutschen Tibethilfe e.V., a German charity.

The award is in recognition of their ‘outstanding contribution to public understanding of Tibet and its current plight’. The Dalai Lama will meet leaders and parliamentary members, including the President of the Parliament, Dr. Wolfgang Thierse. The Dalai Lama was due to meet Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, this morning, but the meeting was cancelled due to health problems of the Minister.

Prior to the ceremony, Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa, all three awardees, Dr Gudrun Henne, Executive Director of ICT-Deutschland and Prof Jan Andersson, Chair of the board of ICT-Deutschland, spoke at a press conference this morning (16 June) hosted by ICT-Deutschland at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin.

The ICT speakers referred to the involvement of a German company, Bombardier Transportation (affiliated to the Canadian company Bombardier Inc) in the construction of rail cars for a controversial railway project linking central Tibet for the first time with the Chinese hinterland (see ICT report, Activist Scales Hotel with Tibetan Flag and Calls on Bombardier to Leave Tibet: Activists Say Rail Contract Facilitates Cultural Genocide). Bombardier Transportation, which is headquartered in Berlin, has a workforce of 8500 employees in Germany. The speakers called upon German companies to adhere to Tibetan government-in-exile guidelines when considering investment in Tibet.

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche gave an update on the current Sino-Tibetan dialogue process.

Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, is a close friend of the Dalai Lama and was the first European head of state to receive him not only as a spiritual leader but also as a political leader for the Tibetans. Dr Otto Graf Lambsdorff, also a close friend of the Dalai Lama, has been Board Chairman of the Friedrich Nauman-Stiftung (Friedrich-Naumann Foundation) since 1995, and has been a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause for many years. Irmtraut Wager, who is 86, has been chairperson of Deutschen Tibethilfe e.V. (a German charity giving aid to Tibetans) since 1983. Supported by one employee and many volunteers, Wager travels to India regularly, where she visits Tibetan schools and meets the Dalai Lama. She organizes sponsorship for about 5000 Tibetan children.