Elie Wiesel greeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel greeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his arrival in Petra for the Conference of Nobel Laureates on May 17th 2005.

The Dalai Lama will present Holocaust survivor, writer and peace activist Elie Wiesel with the International Campaign for Tibet’s Light of Truth award during the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit to Washington DC in November. The Dalai Lama will also present the award, which honors individuals and institutions who have made significant contributions to the public understanding of Tibet, to correspondent Lowell Thomas Jr, one of the first Westerners to visit Tibet prior to the Chinese invasion in 1949, and President of the National Endowment for Democracy Carl Gershman.

The awards ceremony on November 15th takes place during the Dalai Lama?s high-profile 10-day visit to Washington DC from 8 November. During the visit, he is expected to meet the US President George Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Congressional leaders and others.

John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: ‘This is the tenth anniversary of the Light of Truth awards, and so we are particularly proud to honor three individuals who have achieved so much for the Tibetan cause – a great moral leader, a staunch proponent of democracy and a ground-breaking correspondent. The event is all the more meaningful because of the Dalai Lama’s long-standing and unique friendship with all three award-winners.’

The Light of Truth award is a Tibetan butter-lamp symbolizing the light that each recipient has shed on the struggle for human rights and democratic freedoms for the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama will address the event on November 15th, and the award-winners will be introduced by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former US permanent representative to the United Nations, and Paula Dobriansky, Under-Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs and U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. Elie Wiesel will give an address on the concept of universal responsibility.

During his visit to Washington DC in November, the Dalai Lama will give a public talk, “Global Peace through Compassion”, at the MCI Center on November 13. He will also participate in a conference with top scientists on the nature of the mind, and will give a lecture for the Society for Neuroscience. The Dalai Lama?s visit is hosted by the International Campaign for Tibet and the Mind and Life Institute.

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) works to promote human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet. Founded in 1988, ICT is a non-profit membership organization with offices in Washington D.C., Amsterdam and Berlin.

Light of Truth award-winners

Elie Wiesel, who was born in 1928 in Transylvania, now part of Romania, is a world-renowned author, political activist, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. He is the author of more than 40 books, the most famous of which, Night, serves as a testimony to his experiences during the Holocaust. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called Wiesel a ?messenger to mankind?, for his practical work in the cause of peace and his powerful message of peace, atonement and human dignity to humanity. Wiesel teaches at Boston University and serves as the Chairman of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. His work is driven by his view that ?to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all?.

Lowell Thomas, Jr. was among the few Westerners to visit Tibet in 1949, prior to the Chinese invasion – he and his father were among the first of only seven or eight Americans to be granted a permit to travel to Tibet at that time. His trip resulted in scores of photographs, articles, radio programs and books that brought Tibet alive for millions of Americans. Lowell Thomas Jr. shaped this country?s views of Tibet at a critical time in Tibetan history and is one of the genuine grandfathers of the Tibet movement in America. Lowell Thomas, now in his eighties, is still an active environmentalist who lives in Alaska.

Carl Gershman has served as the President of the National Endowment for Democracy since its establishment in 1984 and is one of the founders of the World Movement for Democracy. Under his leadership, the NED has grown into the premier democracy promotion organization in the world and has long supported the efforts of the Tibetan leadership to promote democracy in Tibetan society, both in exile and inside Tibet. Previously, Mr. Gershman was Senior Counselor to the United States Representative to the United Nations and served as the U.S. Representative to the U.N.’s Third Committee, which deals with human rights issues.

Past recipients of the Light of Truth award include: Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic; Claiborne Pell, former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; the people of India, accepted by Mr. Rabi Ray, former speaker of the Indian Parliament; and Richard Gere, actor and humanitarian.