Former Czech President and dissident Vaclav Havel was among three award-winners today of the high-profile ICT Light of Truth award, presented by the Dalai Lama at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin today. On behalf of ICT, the Dalai Lama also presented the award to Dr. Otto Graf Lambsdorff of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Mrs. Irmtraut Waeger of Deutsche Tibethilfe e.V., a German charity. The award is in recognition of their ‘outstanding contribution to public understanding of Tibet and its current plight’.

During his visit, the Dalai Lama will also meet leaders and parliamentary members.

During the ceremonies, Vaclav Havel, a poet, playwright, economist and former political prisoner, said: ‘I watched the development of the Tibetan cause since my youth, from the days I was a dissident. I witnessed for myself in those times just how important international solidarity is.’ Vaclav Havel invited the Dalai Lama to his country just two days after he became President. In a tribute to Mr Havel, Special Envoy of the Dalai Lama Lodi Gyari Rinpoche said: ‘For this single act alone, for treating our leader as he deserves to be treated, he deserves to be honoured.’ (You can finde the full text of Lodi Gyari Rinpoche’s speech on Vaclav Havel here.

The Dalai Lama said that the award-winners had two particular qualities in common; human values and a good heart. He said that all three award-winners had provided inspiration in his own life. In a press conference after the award ceremony, the Dalai Lama acknowledged that one of his main achievements of his nearly 70 years of life was that he ‘has many genuine friends’. He said that he also counted among these friends many Chinese, including some from mainland China, despite ‘various restrictions’. In answer to a question about what he regarded as any failures in his life, he said: ‘During my lifetime we lost our freedom. For more than 46 years we have lost our country.’

In response to questions about China and the Communist Party, the Dalai Lama said: ‘Overall politically things are moving in the right direction, although slowly. I feel it is hopeful to find a solution [to the Tibet question]. Any nation with such a long history has a deep cultural heritage.’

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa of the Tibetan government-in-exile, gave an address in appreciation of Light of Truth award-winner Count Otto Graf Lambsdorff and the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation. He said that he had supported the Tibetan cause and people for so many years, even when many other supporters had become disheartened and disillusioned. ‘He stood like a rock, unshakeable,’ said the Kalon Tripa, and added that the Count’s love of truth and justice reminded him of Mahatma Gandhi. Kalon Tripa also particularly thanked Count Lambsdorff for doing so much for the ‘furtherance and development of a secular democratization for Tibetans in exile.’

Dr Franz Alt, a German journalist and author, paid tribute to Irmtraut Wager, 86-year old chairperson of Deutsche Tibethilfe e.V. (German Aid to Tibetans) since 1983 said that what he most admired about Ms Wager was her philosophy that it was better to help a single child than to complain endlessly about what is wrong with the world. After receiving the award, a clearly moved Irmtraut said that she felt ‘unlimited gratitude and greatly blessed’. She appreciated His Holiness’ blessing for her work years ago when she first began.

Images of the Light of Truth award and profiles of the award-winners will be featured on this website.