01 May 2019
"Everything passes," the Dalai Lama said to me that time. I had been lucky enough to meet him at the then mayor's office in Venice, and on a later occasion he repeated that "everything passes" to me at an official lunch in Trento. I asked the Dalai Lama when the Chinese would leave, his answer was "this is not known" but, he continued, "The source of happiness is the good heart". Happiness, which in addition to being a gift, is also a task. I so envy the optimism of that strong personality. While I was talking to him about the Dolomites and the Ladins, he took my hand and drew me to him. He, the Dalai Lama, was focussed on that little I had to say to him. For me it was a great lesson in humility, while his unwavering strength in obstinately fighting in a peaceful manner against repression was an act of perpetual courage that strongly shaped me. An iron fist approach, constant suppression and unprecedented brutality are still the order of the day in Tibetan territories. Sixty years have passed since the Dalai Lama left his beloved country forever. It was March 17, 1959 and Tenzin Gyatso was twenty-four years old. The Chinese suppressed the uprising with weapons, a cultural genocide followed, that strong identity had to be suppressed. It was too dangerous to grant even a fraction of autonomy to the Tibetan community. Too many, and too uncontrollable, would have been the demands of the dozens of Chinese linguistic minorities. And so the convents are constantly monitored, the telephones under control, the internet connections blocked. The territory is sealed, hundreds of political prisoners are captured, monks are arrested, thousands of Tibetans are imprisoned. Little filters through the curtain of silence, and nothing is known of those who try to escape to find a new identity in India. On the Himalayan mountain ranges, the mountain guides take care of the children who are entrusted to them by their parents. Enduring horrible difficulties, they sometimes succeed, but more often they are shot by the Chinese, or die of hardship and general exposure. Since the inauguration of the rooftop railway, millions of Chinese have arrived in Lhasa, transforming it into a real metropolis based on a very fragile ecosystem. The Tibetan population is relegated to a position of second-class citizens in their own homeland. The fundamental rights of the Tibetan people guaranteed by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights are thus violated. The Chinese, with their propaganda, want to "help the world to better understand the true Tibet, an inalienable part of China since ancient times", saved from backwardness and slavery. They do not say that there have been so many continuous and devastating environmental destructions, from deforestation to pollution by nuclear waste. Yet the Roof of the World, the Land of the Gods, was a balanced and stable territory; the preservation of the environment was an essential part of the daily life of its inhabitants. Self-regulation", common to all Tibetan Buddhists, means using the environment to meet their needs and not out of greed. Yet now, in the largest lake of the Tibetan plateau, there is a landfill used for the storage of radioactive material. In Tibet there was no need for natural parks and reserves, the Buddhist knows of the interdependence of all the elements, living and non-living, present on the planet. The Tibetan government forbade hunting. And the Chinese do not say that Tibet possesses uranium deposits of oil, that there are mineral resources such as lithium and gold. And they're exploiting them uncontrollably. Saving the Tibetan Plateau from ecological devastation is essential not only for the survival of the Tibetans but also for the salvation of half of all humanity, not a local problem, but one of crucial importance at international level.