Rome (AsiaNews) - "The thing I regret most is that the Dalai Lama, a man of peace, has become de facto stateless. All the world gives him big smiles, but in practice no one is willing to help. Especially now that China has become a leading economic power and can impose its will on the world." These words are from an AsiaNews source in Tibet, who remains anonymous for security reasons, according to whom Milan's decision not to grant citizenship to the Nobel Peace laureate "is not news to anyone."
The mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, confirmed yesterday that the decision to make the Dalai Lama a citizen of Milan has been revoked. The city council approved the motion with 15 supporting votes, 12 against and three abstentions - including Pisapia himself - and stated that "a reflection of the council, with a particular festival in honour of the Dalai Lama, is the most convincing and reasonable solution."
According to several sources, the backtrack was imposed by the Chinese authorities in Italy, who threatened to boycott the Milan Expo scheduled for 2015. The Chinese consul visited Palazzo Marino - the seat of the executive power in Milan - two days ago; in addition, several councillors confirmed that they received signals in this sense on the part of industrialists and members of the Chinese community in Lombardy.
For the Chinese government, the Dalai Lama is a dangerous separatist and "a wolf dressed as a monk" seeking Tibetan independence. For his part, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism has ceased to ask for independence for decades, but insists that the regime in Beijing grant religious and cultural freedom to ethnic Tibetans remaining in the region. To avoid problems, China applies continuous pressure worldwide to silence him.
The source for AsiaNews said: "Milan's decision does not surprise anyone. Wherever our leader visits around the world, he always receives big smiles and press attention, but no one until now has had the courage to become personally engaged in resolving the Tibetan issue. The Dalai Lama has many friends, but none of them seems to be very brave. We had hoped greatly also in John Paul II, who was a great pope and a good friend of the Buddhist leader, but the situation was never unlocked."
To the Chinese pressure there is added that of India, another major world economic power. A source in Italy told AsiaNews that some officials of the New Delhi embassy in Rome asked "not to comment in any way" on the decision of the mayor of Milan concerning the Dalai Lama. Most of the Tibetan Diaspora live in India, in Dharamsala, along with the Buddhist leader; India is home also to the Tibetan government in exile.
The New Delhi government has provided great support over the past six decades to the cause of Tibet and has defended the Tibetan leaders from the pressures and threats of Beijing. In recent years, however, this support has begun to waver, and controversies have arisen in India about the presence of the Diaspora and their government on Indian soil.
According to several experts on the question, the position of the Tibetan politicians has several shortcomings. The Diaspora lives, in fact, thanks to generous donations from Buddhists around the world: this money is managed by the executive branch in exile which, if the Tibetan issue were to be resolved, would be dissolved soon afterwards.