Big audience for panel with Dalai Lama despite Beijing protest

 The Dalai Lama waves to devotees outside the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2016.
The Dalai Lama waves to devotees outside the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (REUTERS) - The Dalai Lama took part in a panel of Nobel Peace Prize laureates in Geneva on Friday, addressing a full auditorium about Chinese repression in his native Tibet despite Beijing having urged people to shun the event.

China wrote this week to diplomats and UN officials calling on them not to attend the panel at Geneva's Graduate Institute, saying it opposed the exiled Tibetan spritual leader's appearance at all venues due to his "separatist activities".

"One part of the human brain usually develops common sense. Some of these (Chinese) hardliners, that part of brain is missing," the crimson-robed Dalai Lama, 80, told the audience of students and diplomats.

Earlier, he told reporters: "Wherever my name is there they usually criticise and protest. That's quite now routine, normal, nothing special."

The two-hour panel was moderated by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore, along with laureates from Yemen and Iran.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising aginst Communist rule. Beijing blames him for unrest in Tibetan areas and self-immolations that have taken more than 140 lives since 2011.

A Buddhist group leading a global campaign of harassment against the Dalai Lama has called off its demonstrations and disbanded, according to a statement on its website.

A Reuters investigation revealed in December that the International Shugden Community (ISC) was backed by China's ruling Communist Party.

The Dalai Lama told Reuters on Friday he was aware of the decision by the ISC to disband. He also told journalists he had not yet received an official invitation to visit Taiwan, but it was up to the government of the self-ruled democratic island which Beijing claims is an integral part of China.