An avid Buddhist and supporter of the Dalai Lama, the Hollywood actor spoke out on the sufferings of Tibetans under Chinese occupation in Seoul, Wednesday.
“No one wanted to ask a political question so I will answer one anyhow,” Gere told the local press ahead of the opening of an exhibition at Seoul Arts Center displaying some 60 images he took in various Asian countries, when the event organizers refrained from interpreting political questions posed by reporters.
“I think it’s impossible to look at these photographs and not realize the extraordinary suffering of the Tibetan people,” Gere told reporters at a press conference promoting his Tibet-themed photo exhibition at Seoul Arts Center. “I think when you see these photographs you have to be aware of the political situation there to understand the depth where I was coming from in offering this exhibition.”
The exhibition, “Pilgrim,” features a total of 64 photographs of Tibet and India taken by Gere, as well as 24 photos of Tibet by 24 renowned photographers, including Annie Leibovitz, Steve Meisel and Jerry Uelsmann. The exhibition currently on at Seoul Arts Center runs till July 24.
Gere, a persistent advocate for the Tibetan independence movement, is banned from entering China. The photos on exhibit are from a 1993 trip to China and Tibet, the only time he was able to visit those countries.
Back in the late 1980s, while travelling in Dharamsala, India, Gere came across a wall that had a series of drawings of Tibetan nuns being tortured by the Chinese in Tibet. He took a photograph of the wall at the time.
“And in 1993, during my only visit in Tibet, I was able to encounter three nuns who had been just released from Chinese prison in Tibet,” Gere told reporters. “And they told me exactly the same stories (with the drawings). So I included the picture of them in the montage of these drawings that I’d seen on the wall.”
Gere did not hesitate to openly criticize the Chinese government for their occupation of Tibet.
“The same kind of torture and deaths in Chinese prisons in Tibet is still taking place today,” said the 62-year old Hollywood actor. “Of course it’s not only in Tibet. The Chinese communist government does it to their own people in China as well.”
The Hollywood star arrived in Seoul on Monday along with his wife, actress Carey Lowell and their son, Homer Gere, to promote his exhibition and experience Korea’s traditional Buddhist culture.
He is scheduled to leave on Saturday.