His Holiness holds the citation as Mayor Delanoe looks on, Paris June 7 Phayul photo: Tenam
Paris, Sunday 7 June: Despite Chinese threats and pressure applied on the Paris city council by the French government, according to media reports here, the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe welcomed the Dalai Lama and presented the declaration of 'Citizen of Honor to the Tibetan leader.
Delanoe said the issue is not about interference and neither is it about giving up on his convictions to support democracy, peace and Tibetan people's right to freedom. Yet, he said, he is not trying to provoke the Chinese by honouring the Dalai Lama, which is basically a decision voted upon and passed by the Paris city council last year.
The Dalai Lama said that he accepts the honor as "a human being, as a simple Buddhist monk and finally as a Tibetan."
"I believe that at this tragic hour in our history, this recognition has a big significance," he said adding that "I am sure Tibetans will rejoice when they hear this news."
"This recognition is city's homage to a person of peace and our fraternal support to Tibetan people who are fighting for their fundamental rights, their dignity, their freedom; and simply their life," the Mayor added before handing the declaration to the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama began his second day of visit to Paris by meeting the Tibetan community, people from the Himalayan region and Mongolia. He spoke on the importance of maintaining Tibetan language and the responsibility of parents to pass on the culture to their children. Hundreds of Tibetans from France, Switzerland and other European countries came to hear their leader.
"We are the inheritors of a rich and ancient culture. The onus is on us to preserve and pass it on to the next generation," he advised the gathering.
Pointing out to the cultural affinity among the peoples of the Himalayan region he said that he is very happy that they were able to join him there.
Moving to the situation inside Tibet, he said that though the Chinese repression has increased since the nationwide protest in Tibet last year, specifically targeting monks, nuns and Tibetan intellectuals, the determination of Tibetans remain strong.
Applauding the recent report by Chinese academicians on the causes of protests inside Tibet, the Tibetan leader asked whether the Beijing authorities had the political will to honestly study its conclusions and the recommendations.
The Dalai Lama later held a private meeting with leaders of Green party of France and Kalsang Dolma-Rangeard, the first French-Tibetan woman to stand in European elections.
Later in the afternoon His Holiness spoke to thousands at Bercy Sports complex in Paris on the subject "Society and Politics". Welcoming the Dalai Lama, former Justice Minister of France and now a Senator, Mr.Robert Badinter, said that though the Chinese government label His Holiness as a 'wolf in monk's robe' and one can see the red robe but cannot see the wolf in him. "And may I add I think China will have a hard time trying to pass as the 'Little Red Riding Hood'," in reference to the popular fairy tale about a young girl and a wolf.
"The Dalai Lama is a man of peace. And because the Tibetan cause is just, he knows that one day it will triumph." Mr. Badinter concluded.
"On this last day of my European tour, I feel honored to speak to this large gathering of French people, whom I sometimes think are more intelligent," the Dalai Lama began. "Of course, I am not very sure," he added quickly.
The Dalai Lama reminded the audience about the importance of the role of mother since conception. "Today the little compassionate attitude that I have is due to the love of my mother when I was growing up," he declared.
The Tibetan leader pointed out that one does not need to be religious to be ethical and today majority of the people who are non-believers have same desire for happiness and want to avoid suffering.”
"As a social animal our well-being depends on others. That is the reality of living in a society," the Dalai Lama said, pointing out his reasons for people to take individual initiative in building a more peaceful and harmonious society.
"Anyway, I am flying off to India tomorrow. You will all be still here with your problems," the Dalai Lama said. While the hall erupted in laughter, His Holiness turned serious and reminded the audience that the practice of compassion is the method to find solutions to daily problems.
His Holiness met with over 100 French supporters at a closed door meeting this morning. He will leave for India today. The Dalai Lama will return to Europe in July.