China has reportedly urged United Nations officials and diplomats not to attend an event in Geneva where the Dalai Lama is speaking on 11 March. It is believed that concerns of the Dalai Lama being involved in "separatist activities" are behind the calls for boycott.
The Chinese government has long since accused the spiritual leader of being a separatist, The Dalai Lama has always insisted that he only wants independence for his homeland of Tibet. China has raised objections to the Dalai Lama being on a panel of Nobel laureates at the Geneva Graduate Institute, Reuters reported on 10 March.
A letter from China's diplomatic mission in Geneva on 8 March stated: "Inviting the 14<sup>th Dalai Lama to the aforementioned event violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, in contravention of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China resolutely opposes the 14<sup>th Dalai Lama's separatist activities in whatever capacity and in whatever name in any country, organsiation or event."
The letter goes on to request UN agencies, international organisations and permanent members of member states not to attend the event and not to meet the Dalai Lama during his time in Geneva. However, a spokesperson for the UN in Geneva indicated to Reuters that they were not taking the letter seriously.
Ahmad Fawzi said: "We take note but of course we are not bound by instructions from member states."
Philippe Burrin, director of the Geneva Institute, also confirmed that they were not acting on the instructions and that the event would not be cancelled, despite "pressure being applied from various sides". He told Reuters: "This is a question of freedom of expression and academic freedom to organise an event."
The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for headlining the non-violent opposition to China's occupation of Tibet. This week marks the 57<sup>th anniversary of the beginning of the Tibetan people's uprising against China.