Richard Gere has paid tribute to the monks who set fire to themselves to demonstrate against China's occupation of Tibet, calling their protests "a pure act."
The star, a longtime Buddhist and outspoken campaigner for Tibetan rights, admits he was moved by the spate of Buddhist monks who have torched themselves to demand freedom in Tibet and the return of the exiled Dalai Lama.
He says, "It all really comes down to motivation. I mean none of these self-immolators have harmed anybody else. It is totally a self-sacrifice for their people, for others. So on that level it's a pure act. But I think it's more important to look into the causes of why people would feel they would need to do these kind of things.
"China is a very difficult place to live if you are a free thinker, if you are an artist, if you are a religious person, but especially in Tibet. I think they (Chinese officials) have so wrongly gauged the Tibetan people, thinking they could subvert the deep, deep, deep religious beliefs and make them true Communists. It's never going to happen.
"Their whole lives have revolved around Buddhism, around their teachers, around their gurus... the high ideals of Buddhism. They are not going to change that in a hundred years, two hundred years, a thousand years, that will never go away."