`I HAVE always considered myself just a simple Buddhist monk - no more, no less. There is no change now.'' Thus said the Dalai Lama - Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader - at a press conference near San Francisco, after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in September. He won it for his nonviolent, indefatigable struggle, during a period of nearly 40 years, to free his Himalayan homeland of Chinese domination.
The Tibetan leader described his encompassing Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet. First is the transformation of Tibet into a zone of peace. He spoke of his vision for Tibet as a ``demilitarized zone'' between the two most populous nations in the world, India and China. In this way, he believes Tibet could become a ``sanctuary of peace and a resource of spiritual inspiration at the heart of Asia,'' in an extremely volatile area.
Second is the abandonment of China's population transfer. Respect for the fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms of the Tibetan people is third. Fourth is the restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste. The fifth point focuses on the commencement of earnest negotiations on Tibet's future status and on the relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people.
When asked how he hopes to use the $469,000 cash award the peace prize brings, he spoke of his desire to end starvation among Tibetans, to create a university dedicated to universal peace, and to develop a new educational system aimed at imparting not just knowledge but a deeply embedded value system based on love and compassion.
As though referring to recent events in China, Hungary, Poland, East Germany, the Baltic States, and among his own people, the Dalai Lama said: ``As this dramatic century draws to a close, it is clear that the renewed yearning for freedom and democracy sweeping the globe provides an unprecedented opportunity for building a better world. Freedom is the real source of human happiness and creativity. Only when it is allowed to flourish, can a genuinely stable international climate exist.''