Dalai Lama Wrong About Refugees

| by Mark Jones
The Dalai Lama speaks in Washington D.C. in 2011.The Dalai Lama speaks in Washington D.C. in 2011.

The Dalai Lama is not entirely correct in stating that refugees should continuously hope to return to their homelands.

On Sept. 22, the Dalai Lama spoke to Piers Morgan on "Good Morning Britain."

“Generally the people always feel that one day they will return. They should rebuild their own country,” he told the British news anchor.

“The main effort should go to help [their] own country bring peace, in Syria, Libya or even Afghanistan,” he added.

The Dalai Lama is in a position to speak about refugees. He has been in political exile for many years, notes ITV. He can relate to the feeling of being unable to return to his home country.

Furthermore, he is one of the most recognized advocates for peace worldwide. He has devoted his life to preserving a “culture of peace and non-violence,” according to his website.

Still, his recent read on refugees’ goals seems like it's over-generalizing and unrealistic.

Stories of those who have suffered as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis prove that not all refugees have a desire to return to the countries that exiled them.

Mohammed Badran had to flee from Syria when he was 19 years old, according to PRI. On Sept. 21, he spoke at the United Nations' Summit for Refugees and Migrants.

Badran told the audience that being a refugee is temporary.

“Being a refugee, you know, it's really an experience itself. It's not a label,” he said.

For this reason, Badran and friends have tried to assimilate into the community in the Netherlands where he has been granted asylum.

With his friends, he began an organization called Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands, a group that does community service work benefiting the Dutch community.

“We experienced some difficult situations, but that will not make us for our whole lives victims,” said Badran.

“I really wanted to show the people how we are taking action, how we are trying to help, to be a solution to solve this crisis,” he added.

Though Badran is not taking the Dalai Lama’s proposed route toward the maximization of peace, he, without a doubt, is making a positive impact on the world. Badran is showing the world and other refugees that they do not have to remain victims forever, and that they have the opportunity to foster peace and goodness in their new communities.

While the Dalai Lama’s statement is backed with good intention, it is too broad of a goal to set for everyone who has experienced being a refugee. The world must recognize that these individuals are people with aspirations and dreams who may not want to return to a place that denied them safety and the opportunity to live in peace. 

Sources: ITV, The Dalai Lama, PRI / Photo credit: S Pakhrin/Flickr

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