The Dalai Lama is visiting Switzerland on a four-day trip beginning on Friday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tibet Institute near Zurich. No meetings with the government have been scheduled.
The Tibetan spiritual leader will not be received by any of the seven-member Federal Council during his 15th visit to the country.
"It is particularly incomprehensible that the government is not receiving the Dalai Lama this time," Thomas Büchli, president of the Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association, told the news agency Keystone-ATS. According to him, it would have been mere "politeness" to welcome the Nobel Peace Prize winner "with dignity" on the occasion of the jubilee.
The 83-year-old will instead participate in the 50th anniversary celebration of the Tibet Institute in Rikon, in canton Zurich. It is the only Buddhist monastery founded outside Asia by order of the current Dalai Lama. Inaugurated on November 9, 1968 under the name "Monastery of the Wheel of Education", the place is officially called Tibet Institute because at the time the Swiss constitution did not allow the founding of a real monastery. As a result, the Dalai Lama was unable to attend the festivities: the Federal Council had forbidden him to come to Switzerland. It was only in 1973 that he was able to visit the Rikon Institute for the first time.
Currently, the monastic community comprises seven Buddhist monks and one abbot. They represent the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism: Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. Together with the institute's employees, they organise events dedicated to Tibetan culture and religion. In addition, students from around 20 to 30 schools visit the site each year. The institute also hosts one of the largest Tibetan libraries in the world with around 11,000 books and documents.
On Saturday, the Dalai Lama will take part in the official celebrations of the institute’s jubilee at a sports hall in the city of Winterthur. On Sunday, he will deliver a spiritual discourse at the Hallenstadion in north Zurich. On Monday, he will participate in a symposium at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur.
Tibetans in Switzerland
On October 7, 1950, the Chinese under Mao Zedong invaded Tibet.
A week after a failed bloody uprising in 1959, the 24-year-old Dalai Lama crossed the snowy Himalayas into India, followed by around 80,000 Tibetans.
The first refugees arrived in Switzerland in 1960, at the Pestalozzi Children's Village in Trogen.
In 1963, Switzerland allowed in 1,000 Tibetan refugees. They were the country’s first non-European refugees.
Around 7,500 people of Tibetan descent live in Switzerland, constituting the largest Tibetan exile community in Europe.end of infobox