On October 15, the Dalai Lama expressed his gratitude to the late Petra Kelly, German Green Party member, and Heinrich Harrer, Austrian mountaineer, both of whom made significant contributions to drawing international attention and support to the cause of the Tibetan people.

Presenting the International Campaign for Tibet’s Light of Truth Award to Harrer and the family of the late Petra Kelly in the Austrian town of Graz, the Dalai Lama said that while he was glad to be participating in the ceremony, it was also a sad occasion since Petra Kelly, who died in 1992, could not be there. Addressing Petra’s mother and friends who were present, the Dalai Lama said he greatly appreciated Kelly’s determination and sincerity in working on behalf of the Tibetan people. He said that her contribution could not be erased and that her efforts would bear fruit. He also said he was glad that there are people who are continuing her good work.

The Dalai Lama said that Harrer, whom he came to know when he was “a naughty boy of around 15 or 16,” used to tell him that the seven years that he spent in Tibet were the best years of life. Harrer still has good memories of the situation in Tibet then and continues to work in spreading awareness, the Dalai Lama said. He also said he found Harrer mentally sharp even though he was in his 90s and his command over the Tibetan language was as good as before.

The Dalai Lama said that since Harrer was personally present at the ceremony, he wanted to express his gratitude on behalf of the six million Tibetans.

Addressing Petra Kelly’s mother and friends, the Dalai Lama said Petra was an unwavering friend of the Tibetan people and that he will never forget her contribution.

The Dalai Lama also recognized the gathering of people from different parts of the world at the ceremony, saying that they all have sympathy for the Tibetan cause and interest in the Tibetan culture. He thanked them for this support and said the Tibetan people were trying to create a compassionate society in Tibet through peaceful means.

He noted that many friends of Tibet support Tibetans for their nonviolent nature, and he urged them to incorporate peace and nonviolence in their day-to-day life so that they could set examples in their societies. The Dalai Lama said doing so would compliment their support for the nonviolent Tibetan struggle and would result in benefit for one and all.

Remarks by ICT President John Ackerly introducing His Holiness the Dalai Lama

2002 Light of Truth Awards
Graz, Austria
October 15, 2002

Hello, my name is John Ackerly and I am the President of the International Campaign for Tibet. I have one of the easiest jobs, because I am to introduce a man who needs no introduction to this audience.

But first, I want to recognize a few very important people here with us today.

The first is Tenzin Namgyal Tethong who was the president of the International Campaign for Tibet. Tenzin was the man responsible for first keeping Tibet in front of the US Government, day in and day out – from 1988 to 1992 and we are still continuing that work that you began Tenzin. I also want to thank Chungdak Koren, a wonderful person who is a Board member of ICT-Europe and Lesley Friedell, the main organizer of this event.

And I am especially honored to recognize a real Tibetan hero, a man who served 36 years as a political prisoner in Tibet. As far as I know, no other Tibetan has served more years in prison and in detention that he has. And he was released from prison only months ago and was just able to have an audience with His Holiness for the first time here in Graz. During all his years in prison, he never gave up hope, and he never gave up telling his captors that Tibet was an independent country. Please join me in recognizing and thanking Takna Jigme Sangpo.

A person who cannot be with us tonight is the man who took this very famous photograph here behind us of a rainbow over the Potala Palace. His name is Galen Rowell, and he was tragically killed in a plane crash in August of this year. He was a very good friend of mine. He did a book with His Holiness in 1991 called My Tibet, which helped to bring the plight of Tibet’s environment to international attention.

A special individual who wanted to be here tonight but has responsibilities elsewhere is Lodi Gyari, the Executive Chairman of ICT but more importantly the Special Envoy of His Holiness. He sends his greetings to the awardees and to everyone. As many of you know, he has been working closely with His Holiness to find a negotiated solution for Tibet and recently went to Beijing and Lhasa with Kelsang Gyaltsen to meet Chinese leaders to restart a long overdue dialogue. We wish him every blessing in what will be a long but ultimately a successful path.

Your Holiness, our greatest tribute to you, and to the mayor of this great city, is to take the compassion we are developing back to each of our communities and put it into action for those who we love, and also for those who are less fortunate. So I ask all of you to add to your daily practice, a renewed commitment to help oppressed people where ever they are. And I think each of us also has a special duty to help the Tibetans inside Tibet. There are many ways to do this but I do want to mention a few organizations like Save Tibet here in Austria which is doing wonderful work, as is Tibet Initiative Deutschland and now our new office, ICT-Deutschland. We all must work hard to make sure that your legacy, your compassion, thrive inside Tibet. This means not only helping revive the dharma in Tibet, but also helping political prisoners such as Ngawang Sangdrol and the detained Panchen Lama, helping to get safe, clean drinking water in rural areas, good education for all young boys and girls, and health care. Everyone here can help you, Your Holiness with these important tasks. These are urgent tasks. They cannot wait another 5 or 10 years.

Your Holiness, you have a way of drawing great people to you – and this crowd here tonight is another example of that. You have a way of helping each of us to unleash the potential to help others – and there is no finer example than Heinrich Harrer and Petra Kelly, who drew so much inspiration from you, and who turned their personal relationship with you to something greater for our small, blue and green planet.

Please join me in welcoming the world’s greatest voice for non-violence – for equality – for human rights – His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet.