Richard Gere Slams China: It's The World's Biggest Hypocrisy
NEW DELHI – In a prime-time interview telecast Tuesday night on leading English news channel NDTV 24x7, when asked about his views on the recent cases of self-immolation by some monks in Tibet protesting against China, Richard Gere said, “China is a very difficult place to live if you are a free thinker, if you are an artist, if you are a religious person, but especially in Tibet. I think they (China) have so wrongly gauged the Tibetan people, thinking they could subvert the deep, deep, deep religious beliefs and make them true Communists. It's never going to happen. Their whole lives have revolved around Buddhism, around their teachers, around their gurus... the high ideals of Buddhism. They are not going to change that in a hundred years, two hundred years, a thousand years, that will never go away.”
Gere has been in India since new year's day attending the 10-day Buddhist religious event - the Kalachakra Puja - at the holy Bodh Gaya site where the Buddha gained enlightenment, in the eastern state of Bihar. The annual event, being held for world peace, was opened by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama who has been living in India since 1959 following his exile from Tibet after the Chinese occupation.
A long-time Buddhist and Dalai Lama devotee, Gere has been a regular visitor to India where the exiled Tibetan leader and a large Tibetan community reside in the northern town of Dharamsala. Gere has also lent his high profile celebrity status to support and advocate the cause of Tibet.
While the protest movement against China's occupation of Tibet has mostly been non-violent, there have been a spate of recent incidents in Tibet with monks immolating themselves, some even holding the Dalai Lama's photograph in their hands. “It all really comes down to motivation. I mean none of these self-immolators have harmed anybody else. It is totally a self-sacrifice for their people, for others. So on that level it's a pure act,” said Gere adding, “But I think it's more important to look into the causes of why people would feel they would need to do these kind of things?”
Criticising China's forceful occupation of Tibet, Gere said, “No matter how many roads they (China) build, or how many skyscrapers, or how many, I think there's about six or seven million Chinese settlers, Han Chinese who have been brought to Tibet at this point, it is not going to change (Tibetan culture). They (China) would have to kill every Tibetan to change it and they are not going to do that.”
Gere also recollected the only time he visited China was in 1993 when he was invited to attend the country's prestigious film awards, the Golden Roosters, “I was very skeptical of this, why would they be inviting me to this? But I checked up with people who knew about this this, and they said look, it's too important, too high profile, they wouldn't do anything to you and I thought they would just kill me if I go. So I did go, but I insisted on coming in with one of my (Tibetan) teachers who hadn't been there since I think 1959. There was a big drama; negotiations went on, and eventually yes, I did go to China, and yes we did go in to Tibet. And what I saw there was a deep and profound level of misery and sadness in Tibet and that was only in 1993, and it has only gotten worse since then. ”
As for China's growing economic muscle, Gere said, “Are we more interested in money or are we more interested in the truth?... Eventually you have to bow to the will of the people and especially as their progress as an economy, education also gets higher; their interactions with the world and other people's functioning in the world, and the openness of self-expression. No one wants to live in hypocrisy, and China is the largest hypocrisy in the world right now. ”