Buddhist protest over Cull comment

Sonam Chokyi writes a translation of a message of protest from Geshe Jampa Tenzin (back, centre)...
Sonam Chokyi writes a translation of a message of protest from Geshe Jampa Tenzin (back, centre) as they, Jampa Drolma (left) and Jampa Kunzang (right) prepare to demonstrate against a comment from Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull about the Dalai Lama. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Comments about the Dalai Lama made by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull ahead of the Buddhist leader's visit to the city have prompted several public demonstrations.

The first saw four members of Dunedin's Buddhist community protest yesterday with signs and a Tibetan flag in the Octagon.

Preparing a protest sign, Sonam Chokyi said she understood others were going to protest later in the week, but she and three of her colleagues from the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre felt it was urgent they expressed the small Dunedin Tibetan community's ''genuine and deep upset'' at a specific comment by Mr Cull in the Otago Daily Times this week.

Mr Cull, who has declined an invitation to introduce the Dalai Lama when he gives a talk in Dunedin next month, called the Dalai Lama ''a representative of a minority religious faith''.

The Dalai Lama's message was, however, much wider than just religious. It was social and environmental, too, and he had brought peace, happiness and joy to millions of people throughout the world, Sonam Chokyi said.

''We should therefore honour his visit to Dunedin.''

Students for a Free Tibet and the Organisation for Global Nonviolent Action have also organised a public protest in the Octagon on Saturday against the same comment and others Mr Cull made regarding the Dalai Lama and his visit.

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