His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and
the spiritual leader of Tibet. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint
of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own
nirvana (ascension) and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.
Tibet was an ancient country the size of western Europe when it was invaded by
the People’s Liberation Army of China in 1950. A place with a unique culture,
history and identity, Tibet has been changed dramatically by the Chinese
invasion and occupation. Not only have many Tibetan lives been lost, Tibetans
in Tibet do not enjoy basic human rights and the Chinese government have
introduced policies by which Tibetan culture, language and natural resources
are being systematically and irrevocably eroded.