Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Wednesday caught the Indian leadership unaware by advocating independence for Tibet at a function to award him the Gandhi Peace Prize at the Presidential Palace.“We thank you for giving refuge to one of the greatest human beings, Dalai Lama, and pray that you help bring about freedom of his Tibet,” the South African anti-Apartheid struggle hero told the gathering that included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his acceptance speech after President APJ Abdul Kalam presented the award to him.
Indian officials promptly distanced Delhi from the remark, saying Tutu had only expressed his “personal” views. Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had articulated India’s position on Tibet in 2003 when he acknowledged the concept of “one China”. Officials said the stand had remained the same. Dedicating the peace prize to Myanmarese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Tutu sought India’s help to bring about the “freedom” of Myanmar and release Suu Kyi. He also dedicated the prize to the people of South Africa and the freedom of Darfur.