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Nobel Laureates Praise Aung San Suu Kyi at Chicago Summit

The Dalai Lama, right, looks at the remarks of Lech Walesa, former president of the Republic of Poland, during a news conference after the final session of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, Chicago, April 25, 2012.

Nobel Peace Prize laureates concluded their 12th World Summit, held this year in the Midwest city of Chicago, by appealing to youth to use non-violent means to achieve world peace. Laureates pointed to recent changes in Burma as an example of how non-violence can lead to dramatic changes.

Although she wasn’t physically present, newly elected member of Burma’s parliament Aung San Suu Kyi was very much on the minds of her fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

She recorded a video message for those gathered at Chicago’s Symphony Center.

“People have to have the courage to stand up and say this we will not tolerate,” she said.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was pleased with developments in Burma.

“We often expressed sadness Aung San Suu Kyi is not in our group," said the Dalai Lama. "Now, Aung San Suu Kyi is released, and the situation in Burma is really improving."

During a panel discussion called “World Peace and Non Violence: Never Give Up,” the Dalai Lama joined fellow laureate Jody Williams in honoring Aung San Suu Kyi for speaking out against injustice in Burma.

“Through her courageous stance on democracy, through non-violence look at what is being accomplished in her country,” said Williams.

The Dalai Lama says nonviolence has gained public support in China for his pursuit of what he calls “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet.

“So, our approach, is firstly, strictly, a non-violent way, secondly, middle way, so that really I feel brought a lot of support from Chinese people, Chinese public sector, so that I think is a positive, significant result,” he said.

But more than 30 Buddhist monks and nuns have set themselves on fire in recent months to protest Beijing’s rule of the region.

When asked at a post-summit news conference how long Tibetans will remain peaceful, he said the way forward lies in the hands of Tibet’s newly elected leadership-in-exile, based in northern India.

“So now, we utilize a democratic practice fully," he said. "So last year, I handed over all of my political authority and responsibility to elected leadership.”

He says that elected leadership has vowed to continue a “middle approach” in securing Tibetan autonomy, which encourages continued dialogue with the Chinese government, something he admitted in his earlier panel discussion hasn’t always been successful.

“I describe totalitarian regimes… no ear, only mouth, only lecture us," said the Dalai Lama."Never willing to listen to others view, others feeling.”

But others have plenty of opportunities to hear to the Dalai Lama speak. After concluding his current trip to North America this month, he will visit Europe in May for a series of public lectures.

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    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.