Rome Makes Dalai Lama an Honorary Citizen

VOA, Feb 9, 2009

Rome, Italy -- The Dalai Lama received the honorary citizenship of Rome during a formal ceremony at the city council. The mayor honored him for "his international commitment to find a peaceful solution to the problems of Tibet and spreading the principle of reaffirming human rights and peace among peoples".

<< The Dalai Lama (left) and Rome's Mayor Gianni Alemanno, Feb. 9, 2009

The Dalai Lama renewed his commitment to non-violence at a ceremony in which he received the honorary citizenship of Rome. Mayor Gianni Alemanno said the presence of the1989 Nobel peace laureate represented a moral revolt against injustice, violence and oppression.

The 73-year-old exiled Tibetan leader said he is committed to three things: promoting the value of the human individual, which has nothing to do with belonging to or believing in one religion or another: promoting inter-religious harmony and dialogue, and resolving the cause of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama added that he believes the Tibetan people, knowing that he is in Rome to receive this honorary citizenship, would feel less alone and know they have not been abandoned.

Speaking after arriving in the Italian capital on Sunday, the Dalai Lama said that the situation in Tibet remains very serious following last year's crackdown by the Chinese authorities on Buddhist monks. "My faith towards the Chinese government since the end of March, I publicly expressed, my faith now is becoming thinner and thinner, however my faith towards Chinese people never shaken, and more Chinese intellectuals, writers, are now expressing themselves about our cause very, very positively," he said.

China has long accused the Dalai Lama of leading a campaign to split Tibet from the rest of the country. But the Dali Lama says he is only seeking greater autonomy for the region to protect its unique Buddhist culture.

He added the social situation in Tibet is critical because there is great resentment between the native Tibetan and the Chinese population.

The Dalai Lama later traveled to Venice from Rome where he is also to become an honorary citizen of the lagoon city. He then travels on to Baden Baden in Germany to receive a prize.