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31august20091Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke with journalists during his visit today to the typhoon-hit village of Shiaolin in Kaohsiung County, southern Taiwan. His Holiness arrived late on August 30, and headed straight for Hsiaolin, a village that suffered around 500 casualties due to landslides and flooding caused by Typhoon Morakot. He spend this morning offering prayers and comforting victims, on the first full day of a tour which he has stated to be purely humanitarian, with no political agenda.

Reporters and photographers crowded close to capture the Dalai Lama’s message and the image of the exiled Tibetan leader praying.

His Holiness Dalai Lama says that when people can express their opposing views without fear, it is a healthy sign of freedom and democracy. Around 20 pro-Communist supporters were protesting his Taiwan visit. "I love it," His Holiness told reporters in response. "It's an indication of freedom of expression. It's wonderful."

31august20098"In any case, Taiwan should have very close and unique links with mainland China, but at the same time Taiwan also should enjoy democracy and prosperity," stated His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in a brief reference to the regional political situation and Taiwan’s relationship with mainland China.  

Kneeling on the ground above what was once the farming village of Shiao Lin, the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered his prayers for the estimated 500 villagers who died in mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot in early August. The village is now an empty stretch of mud and scattered boulders. But at least the survivors are being comforted, those who lost their lives are being prayed for, and the land is being blessed by the Buddhists’ beloved spiritual leader.