It gives me great pleasure to know that the Geuzen Medal for 2005 is to be awarded to the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT). Since its inception, the ICT has made a commendable contribution to the promotion of human rights and democracy in Tibet and supporting my non-violent efforts to find a negotiated solution to the Tibetan problem. I was very pleased to learn too that the Geuzenverzet Foundation was established in memory of the many who worked for freedom and democracy in resistance movements during the Second World War. It is indeed a privilege for the ICT to be counted among such illustrious company.

In recent years the ICT has worked hard to raise public awareness of the real situation inside Tibet and the true nature of our freedom struggle. Our firm commitment to a peaceful campaign is based on a fundamental belief that violence can only breed more violence and suffering. Therefore, since our aim is to end the suffering of the Tibetan people and not to inflict suffering upon others, our struggle must remain non-violent and free of hatred.

It is with this in mind that I have repeatedly proposed mutually-beneficial negotiations with the Chinese leadership to resolve the Tibetan problem. I am glad to say that they have lately responded to our initiative and my envoys have recently met Chinese leaders with a view to entering into serious discussions. It is my heartfelt hope that such discussions will lead to an end to the suffering of the Tibetan people. In the final analysis it is for the Tibetan and Chinese peoples themselves to find a just and peaceful resolution to the Tibetan problem. Once they understand the true situation in Tibet, many Chinese, particularly pro-democracy activists, both inside and outside China, willingly give us their support. Similarly, we take great courage and solace from such potent expressions of support as represented by the granting of this esteemed award.

Over the last four decades and more, unspeakable misfortune has overtaken our country, Tibet, because of which more than a million of our compatriots have died. One hundred thousand Tibetans including myself have fled our homeland and now live in exile. Although this has created an opportunity for us to preserve our culture, religion and identity, along with our self-respect with a semblance of freedom and democracy, the six million Tibetans in Tibet continue to live in much poorer conditions. Their stomachs may now be full and constraints on their movement and religious freedom may have been relaxed a little, but, as the saying goes, man does not live by bread alone. People need mental freedom, a conducive atmosphere in which to exercise their creative talents, and, above all the ability to determine their own future.

The very existence of a distinct Tibetan national and cultural identity continues to be under threat. Therefore, we are seeking to save our people and their unique heritage, which has some potential to serve humanity and to promote peace in this part of the world, from total annihilation.

On this auspicious occasion, I appeal to all those attending the award of the Geuzen Medal to the ICT to remember not only the Tibetan people, but also all human beings who are presently prevented from exercising the rights and freedoms that many of us take for granted.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama