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Dalai Lama Visits Poland

  • VOA Tibetan

The Dalai Lama has hailed Poland's Solidarity movement for the peaceful campaign of opposition it led that eventually toppled the country's former communist regime.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader addressed a crowd of about 6,000 people after arriving in Wroclaw (Poland) Wednesday after stops in Hungary and Germany. He also toured an exhibit marking the 30th anniversary of Solidarity's founding.

The Dalai Lama said he has long felt a bond of brotherhood with Solidarity and its members, including fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa.

Originally a shipyard electrician in Gdansk, Mr. Walesa was one of Solidarity's founding members in (August) 1980, and he helped lead a paralyzing general strike. After being imprisoned for a year during the communist government's unsuccessful attempt to crush the Solidarity union, Mr. Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.

Later in the 1980s Solidarity expanded rapidly into a powerful political movement and entered into a power-sharing arrangement with the communists. Poland became a fully democratic government and Mr. Walesa was elected president in 1990.

This week's trip is the Dalai Lama's fifth visit to Poland, which has previously made him an honorary citizen of Warsaw, the capital, as well as Wroclaw, an industrial center that had been German territory before World War Two.

During a visit in December 2008, the Buddhist monk met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Gdansk, sparking an angry reaction from in China.

China has criticized every government that has welcomed the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing accuses of campaigning for an independent Tibet. The Dalai Lama denies the accusation; he says he wants cultural autonomy for Tibetans within China.

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