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What China is doing in Tibet is shameful -- Italian Mayor

July 27, 2008

Tibet Bureau, Geneva
July 25, 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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