Corby is to forge links with a Tibetan community after the borough council agreed to adopt the remote village of Rigul.
The move means the council has become the first in Britain to formally partner a community in Tibet and it is hoped other places in the UK will follow suit.
A proposal for the link with Rigul, put forward by deputy leader Cllr Jean Addison and seconded by Cllr Chris Stanbra, was agreed at a full meeting of the council on Thursday (September 19).
No public funding will be used but it is hoped residents and groups in the Corby area will support fundraising for Rigul’s school and health clinic, established by the charity, the Rigul Trust.
Cllr Chris Stanbra said: “This is about this council leading the way and making a stand. We should extend the hand of friendship and wouldn’t it be great if other places did the same.”
Cllr Mary Butcher added: “These are a peaceful people who are losing their way of life. This is a way of showing that we care.”
Paul Golding, of the London-based Tibet Society, and Margaret Richardson, of the Rigul Trust, visited Corby last week to show support for the plan at a meeting organised by Cllr Bob Riley.
They spoke of conditions under the Chinese regime, with Tibetans arrested and detained for printing political leaflets or even displaying a photograph of the Dalai Lama. Those arrested are tortured and many disappear without trace.
They are denied the right to education in their own language and possession of the Tibetan national flag is a crime.
For more information visit www.tibetsociety.com and www.rigultrust.org.