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What China is doing in Tibet is shameful - Italian Mayor

The Tibet Bureau, Geneva - 25 July 2008

“What China is doing in Tibet is shameful and we must express our solidarity with the Tibetans,” said Mayor Achille Variati of Italian City of Vicenza. The Mayor officially received Mr. Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Geneva in Vicenza City Hall on 24 July.

While speaking to the media, the Mayor said even though Tibet today was under Chinese occupation, yet Mr. Chhoekyapa represents a people with a very ancient culture and tradition. He said it was a great honour to receive His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative.

The reception was also attended by Mrs. Elena Donazzan, the head of the Veneto Region. In her address, she said that as politicians, she and the Mayor differed on various issues. However, on the issue of Tibet, they were united.

Mayor Variati at the press conference said that in act of solidarity with the Tibetan people, the city of Vicenza and Veneto Region would fly the Tibetan National flag in the City Hall on 8 August. He asked the citizens of Vicenza and Veneto Region to fly the Tibetan National flag or light a candle to express solidarity with the Tibetan people on 8 August.

Mr. Chhoekyapa said that the situation in Tibet was very tragic and tense. Over 200 Tibetans have been killed and over 6000 arrested by the Chinese security forces in response to peaceful demonstrations by Tibetans since March 2008 against Chinese rule in Tibet. He said, despite this heartbreaking situation in Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not calling for Tibetan independence but for a genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people so that the Tibet’s religion, culture, tradition and language is preserved before it is too late.

During a visit to the Vicenza Provincial government office, the Mayor’s representative presented Mr. Chhoekyapa a copy of the Tibet resolution passed by the Provincial Legislative Council on 27 December 2002 to host the Tibetan National flag in the legislative building until the Tibetan issue is resolved.

During the three days visit to the Vicenza region, there was good local media coverage both in newspapers and TV. The Vicenza’s largest newspaper had a one full page interview with Mr. Chhoekyapa.

At a simple reception in the Lonigo Town Hall on 23 July, the Mayor presented Mr. Chhoekyapa a placate with the following citation – “With gratitude and solidarity with the Tibetan people, that it will not lose its identity.” The Mayor said that the Lonigo town council had passed a resolution to host the Tibetan National flag in its building until the Tibetan issue was resolved.

On 24 July evening, a Tibetan cultural evening was organized in Lonigo town by Mrs. Sonam Dolkar Yongschar, the only Tibetan living in the region. Mrs Yongschar was born in Nepal soon after her parents escaped from Tibet. She was first admitted to the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala and later sent with a group of Tibetans for education in Switzerland.

The event was held in Lonigo’s town square front of the Mayor’s office. A special stage was decorated with Tibetan national flags and Lungta, the Tibetan prayer flags spanning the town square.

The local celebrity journalist Mr. Claudio Tessarolo, who travelled to Tibet, Nepal and India, gave a very moving introduction to Tibet. Mr. Chhoekyapa spoke in Tibetan about the situation in Tibet which was translated into Italian by Mrs. Yongschar. “Tibet, the cry of a people” documentary was screened.

Despite the summer holiday, over 500 people gathered in the town square for the Tibetan cultural evening which started at 9pm and finished at 11.30pm. The audience gave a standing ovation at the end of Mr. Chhoekyapa’s talk. Then the town square went dark. Suddenly each individual present in the town square lit a candle as a symbol of solidarity with the Tibetan people.



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