Mr Achille Variati, mayor of Italian City of Vicenza (C), speaks during a reception given in honour of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's representative in Geneva, at Lonigo Town hall on 24 July 2008. (Photos by Tibet Bureau, Geneva)
Geneva - "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, the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Geneva in Vicenza City Hall on 24 July.
Expressing great honour to receive His Holiness the Dalai Lama's representative, the Mayor said the representative of His Holiness represents Tibetan people's ancient culture and tradition, which the Chinese government has suppressed for the last 50 years.
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.
Mr Tseten Chhoekyapa, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Geneva, addresses the gathering during the reception. (Photo by Tibet Bureau, Geneva)
Mayor Variati said as an 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 candles to express solidarity with the Tibetan people on 8 August.
Mr. Chhoekyapa said that the situation in Tibet is very tragic and tense. Since 10 March this year, over 200 Tibetans have been killed and more than 6000 arrested by the Chinese security forces in response to peaceful demonstrations by Tibetans against Chinese government's wrong policies, he added.
He said, despite the present crisis in Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is steadfast in his commitment in seeking 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, in their resolve to fly the Tibetan national flag in the legislative building until the Tibetan issue is resolved.
During the three-day visit to Vicenza region, there was good local media coverage, both in newspapers and TV. The Vicenza's largest newspaper carried a full-page interview with Mr Chhoekyapa.
At a simple reception in the Lonigo Town Hall on 23 July, Mr Choekyappa received a souvenir from the mayor with the citation "With gratitude and solidarity with the Tibetan people, that it will not lose its identity."
Mr Tseten Chhoekyapa presents a Tibetan flag to Vicenza Provincial government. (Photo by Tibet Bureau, Geneva)
On the evening of 24 July, a Tibetan cultural show 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.
Mr. Claudio Tessarolo, a local journalist, 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. The documentary "Tibet, the cry of a people" was screened.
Despite the summer holiday, over 500 people gathered in the town square for the Tibetan cultural evening which started at 9 pm and finished at 11.30 pm. The audience gave a standing ovation at the end of Mr. Chhoekyapa's talk. Later, the town square at night, was aglow with candle lights as a symbol of solidarity with the Tibetan people.Report filed Tibet Bureau, Geneva, Editing by Lobsang CHOEDAK