Tibet hearing in Italian Parliament and ICT advocacy during Dalai Lama visit, Oped published in Italian newspaper

Marina Sereni

EU Policy Director Vincent Metten, Vice President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Hon. Marina Sereni and Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet.

The International Campaign for Tibet worked to put Tibet on the political agenda as the Dalai Lama arrived in Italy this week. ICT President Matteo Mecacci spoke at a hearing at the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies in Rome today and briefed government officials on Tibet in advance of Italy assuming Presidency of the European Union on July 1.

Matteo Mecacci, President of ICT, said: “We have met members of the government, including the Undersecretary of State Benedetto Della Vedova, high ranking diplomats and parliamentarians to brief them about the situation in Tibet and raise awareness on the repressive policies employed by the Chinese government. In particular, I stressed the growing militarization, the criminalization and collective punishments following self-immolations, the plight of political prisoners, and the state control on Tibetan Buddhism.”

New Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met Chinese President and Party chief Xi Jinping on June 11 in Beijing on his first visit to China as Italy’s leader. Renzi’s visit to China coincided with the Dalai Lama’s arrival in Italy on June 10, beginning with an important Tibetan religious and cultural institute in Tuscany, Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Pomaia.

Upon arrival, the Dalai Lama spoke of his first trip to Europe and Italy, mentioning the Pope. The Dalai Lama has had cordial meetings with Pope Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and it is not known whether he will meet the current Pope Francis, although he expressed a wish to do so in a warm letter of congratulations when the Pope assumed his role in 2013.

In his statement to the hearing in Rome, ICT President Matteo Mecacci called for Italy to lead on the adoption of a European Union common position on meetings with the Dalai Lama, stating that it is the right of all EU Member States to welcome and meet with the Dalai Lama and representatives of the Tibet movement whenever they deem appropriate. Matteo Mecacci also supported the Dalai Lama’s recent request for an inquiry into the wave of self-immolations across Tibet. Since 2009, more than 130 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in dramatic acts emerging from the anguish of oppression. Most of them have called for freedom and for the Dalai Lama to be allowed to come home.

Mr. Mecacci’s views on these subjects were expanded in an opinion piece published today in the Italian publication Europa. (View English translation here.)

Mr. Mecacci, a former Italian Parliamentarian, also met members of the government and Parliamentarians in Rome together with ICT’s EU Policy Director Vincent Metten. Mr. Mecacci will speak at a panel discussion in Livorno on June 14, coinciding with the Dalai Lama’s teachings on June 14-15. The debate will take place at Teatro Goldoni in Livorno at 6.30 pm on Saturday 14 June with the participation of Maria Grazia Rocchi, Member of the Italian Parliament, Thubten Wangchen, member of the Tibetan Parliament in exile, Claudio Cardelli, President of the Association Italia-Tibet, Nyima Dondhup President Tibetan community in Italy and Franco Battiato, a popular Italian singer.

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