Ngawang Rabgyal, the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the Americas, was denied access to a conference he was to address at the United Nations building earlier today.

He was invited by the United Nations International School (UNIS-UN) to deliver a speech on Tibet to approximately 600 students at UNIS-UN’s Annual Conference.

Due to apparent pressure from China, Dr. Rabgyal was informed earlier this morning that he would not be allowed to deliver his speech at the UN General Assembly Hall. When he arrived to attend the conference as an observer, he was turned away.

“It is obvious that the UN has once again bowed to Chinese pressure and denied the Tibetan people a voice,” said Bhuchung Tsering, director of the International Campaign for Tibet. “Whereas China uses force to silence its critics in Tibet, the UN should uphold the right of Tibetans to freely speak about their situation in an appropriate international forum such as this.”

In response to today’s events Dr. Rabgyal said, “I deeply regret this decision by the UN authorities…I had looked forward to informing the students today about His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s peaceful initiatives to find a resolution to the Tibetan problem, which would serve as a model for international conflict resolution.

“[S]tudents should be provided with information on all aspects of the issue so that they can make a considered judgment and think of ways to reduce tension and thereby help promote international peace.

“The UN would not be serving its purpose if it is being seen to be used to block discussions about peaceful resolutions to Tibet.”

The theme of this year’s conference is “Problems and Progress over the Past Quarter Century.” In addition to addressing human rights concerns, one of this year’s intended areas of focus is “ethnic struggles.”

Last August the UN also barred the Dalai Lama from attending a summit of world religious leaders held at the General Assembly Hall.