With tension mounting in China, the Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit to the University next month has taken on new significance.

The Dalai Lama is slated to deliver a lecture called “Engaging Wisdom and Compassion” at Crisler Arena April 19 and 20.

The Chinese government has accused Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, of inciting the recent wave of anti-Chinese violence in Tibet.

As host of the 2008 Olympic games, China is in the international spotlight and coming under fire from the United States, Britain and other countries for using force against the Tibetan protestors. The Chinese government, which has controlled the region of Tibet since 1951, claims that 19 protesters have been killed as a result of the protests, but aides close to the Dalai Lama say the toll is closer to 130.

Gyatso, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and promoter of nonviolence, told media sources yesterday that he might resign his post if “things get out of control.”

In light of recent Tibetan protests calling for independence from China, his upcoming speech would likely garner more international attention. But some fear that it might not happen at all.

Prof. Mary Gallagher, the interim director of the Center for Chinese Studies, said the conflict might force the Dalai Lama to cancel the event and tend to more pressing issues.

“There’s a lot of things that are happening that make it more important that the Dalai Lama is somewhere else,” she said.

But Gelek Rimpoche, the founder and spiritual leader of Jewel Heart, the organization bringing the Dalai Lama to Ann Arbor, said he believes the Dalai Lama will honor his speaking engagement and come to the University.

According to the Tibetan government’s website, he is also scheduled to speak in Seattle, Wash. in early April.

Rimpoche said he expects the Dalai Lama to discuss the current situation in Tibet when he comes to the University to speak.

“It will be on everyone’s mind, and it’s on his mind too, so he will talk about it,” he said.

Rimpoche said the Dalai Lama would likely reiterate his demands for the Chinese government to give Tibetans greater autonomy, like freedom of religion.

Gallagher said the Dalai Lama’s speech at the University would be an ideal forum for him to express his views on the situation in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama has provoked a reaction from the Chinese government speaking before American government officials, she said, but at the University, he can reach a wide audience without worrying about political ramifications.

The Dalai Lama has called the current situation in Tibet a cultural genocide, but Gallagher said it’s possible that circumstances could “change dramatically” in the weeks before the Dalai Lama comes to campus.

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