The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, won the Nobel Peace Prize Thursday in recognition of his non-violent struggle to free his people from Chinese rule during three decades of exile.
Egil Aarvik, chairman of the Oslo Nobel committee, denied that the award was intended as a slap in the face for Beijing after the suppression of the student democracy movement in June and of other protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa."The committee does not have motives of that sort . . . but it is aware that the Nobel awards often have such effects," he said after announcing the award. "There is no political speculation behind the award."
The Dalai Lama, now 54, fled Tibet in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese troops and has since set tled in India.
"Developments in the East, not least what has happened in China, have made him the leading candidate this year," said Aarvik. The Dalai Lama has been nominated for the prize, worth $455,000 this year, for the past three years.
"There have been many nominations for him," Aarvik said.
Aarvik said the Dalai Lama had been informed of the award by telefax but that it was not yet known whether he would come to the traditional award ceremony in Oslo in December.
"The committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama, in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet, consistently has opposed the use of violence," Aarvik said.
"He has . . . advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people," he added, reading from a statement prepared by the five-member committee.
"The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature," Aarvik said.
The Dalai Lama is currently in Los Angeles on a U.S. lecture tour.
His non-violent campaign for Tibetan freedom has won widespread sympathy and made an international figure of the shaven-headed monk in his maroon and saffron Buddhist robes.
Chai Ling, a prominent Chinese student leader in the pro-democracy movement that was crushed in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June, had been nominated, although too late for this year's award. She will be considered for the 1990 prize.
"If I were a Chinese student leader now, I would say: `The Nobel committee has done the right thing,' " Aarvik said.