Yesterday we learnt that yet again the Chinese authorities have tried to prevent the Tibet hot air balloon from flying in Europe.
It appears that in the days before the 28th Raduno Aerostatico Internazionale, which was held in the Italian city of Mondovi on 9th and 10th January, officials from the Chinese consulate in Milan contacted the Aero Club Mongolfiere Mondovi to ask for information about Tashi and to question the legitimacy of her participation in the event. Consular officials then travelled to Mondovi from Milan to meet with the organisers.
After the event the organisers issued a press release in which they insisted that Tashi was free to fly. She took to the skies on three occasions over the course of the event to the delight of the public, some of whom had travelled from across Italy to see her the Tibet hot air balloon for themselves.
It remains unclear to us why the Tibet hot air balloon continues to attract the attention of Chinese consular officials. We do not hold any position in relation to the political situation in Tibet and are not affiliated to any organisation. The balloon is a representation of the Tibetan flag. It does not bear any logos and is not campaigning for any particular cause or position. The aim of the project is simply to raise awareness of the situation of the Tibetan people who we believe should be free to express their identity through their language, religion, culture and flag. These are rights that are important to us in Europe and which we take for granted.
The story of Tashi’s visit to Italy has been covered extensively in the Italian press with numerous appearances on local and regional newspapers and the national newspaper La Stampa. Tashi also appeared on Rai Uno in front of 7 million Italians having their breakfast! You can see more coverage on our Facebook page.
We are very grateful to the organisers for allowing us to fly and to everyone who has supported us. Grazie mille!