''We all join you in strongly urging the full recognition of the autonomy of the Tibetan nation, a right which is totally in accordance with the principles of the Chinese constitution..." - Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno
Rome, Italy, 9 February 2009 (ANSA) - The Dalai Lama on Monday became an honorary citizen of Rome and Tibet's spiritual leader took advantage of the occasion to renew his commitment to non-violence.
"This honor of becoming a citizen of Rome is a further encouragement for me to support non-violent action. I will remain committed to non-violence to my dying day," the 73-year religious leader said.
During the citizenship ceremony Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno gave the 1989 Nobel peace prize laureate a statuette of the Roman shewolf feeding the infants Romulus and Remus, while the Dalai Lama gave him his traditional white scarf. In welcoming the Dalai Lama to city hall, Alemanno said ''your presence here is our moral revolt against injustice, violence and oppression. A moral revolt in favor of the identity of a people and the right of each and every one of us to express their won spirituality and culture''.
The mayor explained that making the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen was ''a symbolic gesture in recognition of your refusal of violence and dedication to tolerance and compassion, your untiring defense of human rights and those of your people''.
"I believe that the Tibetan people, knowing that I am here in Rome to receive this honorary citizenship, will feel less alone and know that they have not been abandoned," The Dalai Lama said.
• Read the entire release on the Dalai Lama web site.
• China complains about Rome award for Dalai Lama (International Herald Tribune)
• China angry at Italian award for Dalai Lama (Reuters India)