"The treatment by the South African government is like bullying a humble person who has no protection," the Nobel Peace laureate said in his 15-minute address here.

"They are my protection," he said, pointing towards fellow laureates Shirin Ebadi of Iran and Jody Williams of US, who were present at a function here to mark the silver jubilee celebrations of the Dalai Lama's Nobel Peace Prize.

Ebadi and Williams along with several laureates had pulled out of the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace laureates which was to be held in Cape Town October 13-15 in protest over denial of visa to the spiritual leader. This led to cancellation of the summit.

"I thank the two women Nobel laureates - Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi - for being trusted friends, and their unwavering support for the just cause of Tibetans," said the Dalai Lama in his address for festivity as part of the 'Year of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama' event organised by the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in Dharamsala, applied for a visa to South Africa on August 27 to attend the summit, say his aides.

This is the third time in five years that the Dalai Lama has called off his visit to South Africa, say his aides.

"Tibetans inside Tibet and in exile should know that we always support you," said Williams, adding that the "non-violent struggle of Tibetans led by the Dalai Lama is a model of peaceful conflict resolution".

Expressing her support, Ebadi said she cherishes the way Tibetans in exile have preserved their culture under the leadership of the Dalai Lama.

"We need to preserve the language and culture of Tibet to keep Tibet alive,” she said.

"The day is not very far when we will be celebrating today's occasion in Tibet in the presence of His Holiness. And on that day you will see Tibet is alive because His Holiness has encouraged you to keep the culture alive," she added.

"The people of the world and Iran have learned a lot from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on how not to lose hope under difficult circumstances," Ebadi said, adding: "I am sure non-democratic countries will learn from His Holiness and change their behaviour."

Tibetan political leader Lobsang Sangay said it was a special day for the Tibetans inside Tibet.

"Every day they look forward to good news about freedom as they suffer political and religious repression on daily basis. Your presence here sends a message of justice, truth and freedom to them, which will give them hope and inspiration," he said.

The Dalai Lama, who in 1989 was given the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for Tibet, now lives in exile along with some 140,000 Tibetans, over 100,000 of them in different parts of India.Tibet has a population of over six million.

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