Dalai Lama Made A Citizen of Rome - Honored for His Non-Violence

February 9th 2009

Rome, Italy, 9 February 2009 (ANSA) - The Dalai Lama on Monday became an honorary citizen of Rome and Tibet's spiritual leader took advantage of the occasion to renew his commitment to non-violence.

''This honor of becoming a citizen of Rome is a further encouragement for me to support non-violent action. I will remain committed to non-violence to my dying day,'' the 73-year religious leader said.

During the citizenship ceremony Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno gave the 1989 Nobel peace prize laureate a statuette of the Roman shewolf feeding the infants Romulus and Remus, while the Dalai Lama gave him his traditional white scarf. In welcoming the Dalai Lama to city hall, Alemanno said ''your presence here is our moral revolt against injustice, violence and oppression. A moral revolt in favor of the identity of a people and the right of each and every one of us to express their won spirituality and culture''.

The mayor explained that making the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen was ''a symbolic gesture in recognition of your refusal of violence and dedication to tolerance and compassion, your untiring defense of human rights and those of your people''.

''We all join you in strongly urging the full recognition of the autonomy of the Tibetan nation, a right which is totally in accordance with the principles of the Chinese constitution,'' Alemanno added.

''From now on you will be not only be a prestigious guest of the city, but a citizen of Rome, the mayor concluded.

In his reply, the Dalai Lama said he was committed to three things: ''promoting the value of the human individual, which has nothing to do with belonging to or believing in one religion or another; promoting inter-religious harmony and dialogue; and resolving the cause of Tibet''.

''I believe that the Tibetan people, knowing that I am here in Rome to receive this honorary citizenship, will feel less alone and know that they have not been abandoned,'' The Dalai Lama said.


Speaking on his arrival in the Italian capital, the Dalai Lama said that the situation in Tibet remains very serious following last year's crackdown on Buddhist monks there by Chinese authorities.

The Tibetan spiritual leader added that the social situation there was also very critical because there was ''great resentment'' between the native Tibetan and Chinese populations.

Speaking to a group of 25 Italian MPs, the Dalai Lama asked parliaments and governments ''of the free world'' to support the Tibetan people who he said had been ''condemned to death'' The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile for 50 years, explained that he and other Tibetans leaders did not want independence from China but only greater autonomy and to achieve this would only use non-violent means.

MPs Matteo Mecacci and Paolo Concia, of the opposition Democratic Party (PD), called on the center-right government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi not to ''wash its hands'' of the plight of the Tibetan people.

''The Italian parliament and government cannot remain indifferent before this tragedy,'' they said.

The fact that no meetings have been arranged between the Dalai Lama and government and institutional leaders, observed Mecacci, ''is certainly not the way to help find a solution'' to the Tibetan problem.

Recognising the Dalai Lama as a valid talking partner, the way French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have, ''is a first step to China recognising him as such,'' he added.

''We fully recognise that there is a political price involved, but China must decide between democracy and authoritarianism,'' the MPs said.

After Rome, the Dalai Lama will travel to Venice and then to Baden Baden in Germany.


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