MYPLACE researcher Liga Rudzite from our Latvian team on the recent visit to Riga by the Dalai Lama, organised by “Latvia for Tibet” – an NGO featured in MYPLACE research into young activists.
For more information on the MYPLACE project visit the project’s website: HERE
8th to 11th of September this year saw the third visit of the 14th Dalai Lama in Riga, Latvia (the previous two being in 1991 and 2001). This time the three day visit was organized by an NGO Latvia for Tibet with a help from many other NGO’s and individual supporters. The visit included a public lecture in the „Arena Riga” and an unofficial closed meeting at the Meeting room of Commision for National Economics in Parliament of Latvia with a few MP’s and representatives of the local buddhist community.
The visit was accompanied with many questions regarding the refusal of the highest Latvian State officials to meet Dalai Lama. In response they stated that this was an unofficial visit organized by NGO’s, which had nothing to do with politics and therefore there was no reason why State officials should be involved with it at all.
On the side of the public, hundreds of people took part at both the events leading to the visit of Dalai Lama and the public lecture of Dalai Lama itself. The Buddhism Culture Weeks and the making of sand Mandala of Compassion were events that took place weeks and days before the visit and gathered hundreds of visitors of all ages. The greeting of Dalai Lama by his hotel gathered a group of people that included both interested passer-by’s, members of Latvia for Tibet, local opinion leaders and media.
The main event of the visit – public lecture „The Culture of Compassion” – took place in a large arena in Riga, providing opportunity for several thousands of people to hear the lecture. Although the arena was nearly filled up, at the end of the lecture the organizers asked the public to come forth with donations to be able to cover all expenses of the visit which was mainly financed by private and NGO donations and the income from ticket sales.
There are no estimates of how many people took part in the events, nor how many young people were involved with the visit both during the preparations phase and the visit itself, but in his lecture Dalai Lama stressed the importance of youth to lead the change for the better around the world.
This is the first time when a visit of Dalai Lama is organized by the initiative and work of NGO’s and individuals only. For a major event of this scale it speaks of the connectedness and networks that Latvia for Tibet can utilize to organize it, even if the official number of members of the organization is small.