Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, was the site this past weekend for the meeting of two Nobel Peace Prize laureates—HH the Dalai Lama and Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi—both of whom went out of their way to praise a third Peace Prize nominee, the Czech Republic’s late Vaclav Havel. The occasion is the 17th annual Forum 2000, a conference founded by then dissident-turned-president Havel with a mission of
“supporting the values of democracy and respect for human rights, assisting the development of civil society, and encouraging religious, cultural and ethnic tolerance. It provides a platform for global leaders, as well as thinkers and courageous individuals from every field of endeavor, to openly debate and share these critical issues.”
Following a public talk on Saturday by the Dalai Lama, entitled “Compassion and Respect in Today’s Society,” Suu Kyi opened the conference Sunday by recalling that Havel refused the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and recommended her in his place. In subsequent years, an empty chair was always reserved for Suu Kyi on the Forum stage; her release from house arrest in 2010, and her appearance at the Forum to sit in that chair for the first time this year, were greeted with a standing ovation.
This year’s Forum 2000, which explores “Societies in Transition” through its conclusion tomorrow, has also gifted us with the lovely portrait at the head of this post of the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi in front of an image of Chenresig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, after their private meeting on September 15.
Photo by Jeremy Russell/Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.