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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama receives honorary citizenship of Polish capital

July 31, 2009

(AFP) – July 29, 2009

WARSAW — Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama received
honorary citizenship of the Polish capital Warsaw Wednesday at the
city's Royal Castle, destroyed by the Nazis and rebuilt after World War II.

"We Varsovians, the residents of this indomitable city, are proud that
as of today the 14th Dalai Lama is one of us," Warsaw Mayor Hanna
Gronkiewicz-Waltz told guests at ceremonies, including Poland's
anti-communist icon Lech Walesa.

"As the councillors of a city which has suffered as much as Warsaw, we
have the moral right and duty to express our respect and honour a person
who is striving for the freedom and sovereignty for his nation, freedom
that we have enjoyed for the last 20 years," Warsaw city council
statement said.

This year Poland marked 20 years since it peacefully shed communism with
partially free democratic parliamentary elections on June 4, 1989.

"I'm extremely happy and feel it is a great honour to become a citizen
of this great city," the Dalai Lama said after receiving the honour.

"No matter what difficulties, the Polish spirit, Polish determination,
always remained firm," the Dalai Lama said, speaking of Germany's bloody
WWII occupation of Poland and the subsequent imposition of communism by
the Soviet Union.

He also urged people to "explore our positive potential" and to practice
"warm heartedness" as a means to avoid bloodshed.

"I have no doubt that freedom will come for your nation as it did for
ours, just as I have no doubt I will one day receive an honorary title
on that (Tibetan) territory," Poland's ex-president, Solidarity-era hero
and Nobel Peace laureate Lech Walesa said at the ceremonies.

"So hurry up, I'm getting old," Walesa joked.

As the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Dalai Lama last visited
Poland in December 2008 for celebrations marking 25 years since Walesa
was awarded the prize as leader of the country's Solidarity freedom
movement that peacefully toppled communism.

The Dalai Lama reiterated his policy of genuine autonomy for his
Himalayan homeland of Tibet within China and insisted the "world has a
moral responsibility to bring China into the mainstream of world democracy."

He arrived in the Polish capital Warsaw on Monday for a three-day visit.

On Tuesday he visited a museum dedicated to the World War II Warsaw
Uprising, a doomed 1944 insurrection by the Polish resistance against
the occupying Nazi Germans.

During the visit, he compared the fate of the Tibetan people to Polish
insurgents who, against all odds, rose up against the Nazis.

Retreating Nazi German forces bombed Warsaw heavily in 1944, leaving 90
percent of the city as a smouldering heap of rubble.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet after a
failed uprising in 1959 against Chinese rule.
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