lundi 5 octobre 2009

The visit of Dalaï Lama in Montreal

I've never had any prejudice against any religious leaders of the world even if I am personally more of an atheist. Characters like the Pope or the Dalai Lama have always inspired me a certain respect and I had planned to photograph the religious leader of Tibet during his visit to Montreal. Unfortunately, the organizers did not want to give me a media accreditation ...
I was very frustrated by this refusal because I was in contact with officials in Montreal for several months and they always told me that everything was wonderful. The conference of the Dalai Lama would be a great event and they were very happy that I was interested in them.
I was most surprised, a few days before the Dalai Lama's visit to Montreal, when the press officer in charge contacted me to tell me that my request for accreditation was denied. The reason: They lacked space in the Bell Center...
I was very upset and I felt cheated especially since I opened the page of the magazine to organizers in recent months and they'd closed their door after the publication of many articles, by me about them, and when their event became really interesting.
My first reaction was to check with my fellow journalists whether they had been accepted. Well no! None of my entourage has been accredited. Some have not even received an acknowledgement note to their application.
I searched a little more on Internet and started to trace many negative news articles from several journalists who criticize the Dalai Lama. One article was particularly aggressive and signed by Richard Martineau. (See link on the web site Pictures Page
I even read that the Dalai Lama said that he is considering the Internet technology as a threat to world peace... May be this is the reason why the microphones did not work properly during the first 10 minutes of the conference. At one point, the Dalaï Lama was so upset that he almost left his chair on the stage!
I had no prejudice before but now I have to question the actions of people around the Dalai Lama. If individuals who preach compassion may act as cavalier as they did towards me, well I'd rather stick away as I have nothing to share with them.
The local organizers offered me a free ticket to watch the speeches of the Dalai Lama among the crowd. A technique taken from McDonald's Restaurant who offer a free meal to customer when they are unhappy with the service. That does not excuse the selection of certain media and the elimination of several at their press conference. I call that "Media Manipulation". The press secretary even said to me that with this kindness from them (the free ticket), I should be very happy, to show compassion and write a favorable article!
Unfortunately the "free ticket" did nothing to calme my anger, nor to excuse the actions of arbitrary control of media. They criticized China for stifling the press during the Olympics. How should we describe the elimination of several journalists from the press conference of the Dalai Lama?
My presence in the crowd had not either enhanced the image of the Dalai Lama in my opinion. He is ultimately a poor orator when compared to Barack Obama or even Ingrid Betancourt. The Bell Center crowd was faithful to his Holiness, but we could see in some people present a certain coldness. Conclusion, I will not become a Buddhist monk by tomorrow morning ...
If a positive consequence could be found to this whole story it is the discovery, in my case, of the talented translator monk Mathieu Ricard, a learned man, brilliant, polyglot and who has an outstanding personality. He will go far in the future of the Buddhist's organization.
Bernard Bujold
Photo 2: The Dalaï Lama at Bell Cehter in Montreal;
Photo 3: Bernard Bujold at the Dalaï Lama's conference

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