July 29, 2008 · Print This Article
On eve of Beijing Olympics, Tibetans and their supporters ask athletes to support Tibet
For Immediate Release: July 29, 2008
Contact: Tenzin Dorjee +1 917 289 0228
Han Shan +1 917 289 0228
New York – Less than two weeks before the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, Tibet supporters have placed a full-page ad in the New York Times, appealing to Olympic athletes to show support for Tibet while in Beijing. The ad reads in part, “ At every Olympics, there is one athlete who ends up inspiring the world with their courage and character. We’re hoping that athlete is reading this.” The ad appeared in the Times today, July 29th, on page A9.
The New York Times ad was sponsored by Students for a Free Tibet, whose recent dramatic protests at Mt. Everest base camp, the Great Wall of China, and the Golden Gate Bridge have grabbed worldwide headlines. Listed at the bottom of the ad is the web address www.AthleteWanted.org, a website sponsored by Students for a Free Tibet and the International Tibet Support Network, a global coalition of over 150 Tibet support organizations.
Tibet groups in North America, Europe, India, and Australia have been reaching out to Olympic hopefuls and athletes from many participating nations, providing information and materials to encourage them to show support for Tibet while at the Games in August.
“Olympic athletes have the platform and the power to inspire the world,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “At the Beijing Games, we believe athletes have the opportunity to inspire not only with their athletic performances, but also by standing up for what is right by supporting human rights and freedom for Tibet.”
The website lists ideas and resources for showing support for Tibet in Beijing this summer. The website suggests raising a Tibetan Flag, wearing ‘Team Tibet’ clothing, and other creative, nonviolent statements of support.
“The Chinese government is using the Olympics as a pretext for an ongoing campaign of brutal repression targeting Tibetans,” said Han Shan, Olympics Campaign Coordinator for Students for a Free Tibet. “We are searching for an athlete to show the Chinese government the true Olympic principles of friendship, solidarity and fair play by standing up for Tibet at the Beijing Olympics.”
“At a time when Chinese authorities are ruthlessly silencing Tibetan voices, it means more than ever when free people speak up for Tibet,” said Yangchen Lhamo, a San Francisco Bay Area-based spokesperson for Students for a Free Tibet. “We believe many athletes compete in the Olympics not just for themselves and their countries, but because they believe in the values of liberty, justice, and human dignity that the Olympics represent. These are the ideals that Tibetans are struggling and dying for at this moment.”
Ms. Lhamo has been involved in outreach activities to U.S. Olympic athletes undergoing processing at San José State University before heading to Beijing. Tibetans from the Bay Area have been on the campus of San José State University and at San Francisco International airport to meet athletes as they arrive.
Tibetans from a coalition of San Francisco-area Tibet groups called “SF Team Tibet” are handing out packets to athletes containing a copy of the New York Times ad, flyers with information about Tibet and the current crackdown by Chinese authorities against freedom protests, ideas of nonviolent actions athletes could take to show support for Tibet at the Olympics, a small Tibetan flag, and a “Team Tibet” embroidered patch. Tibetans have reported being repeatedly threatened with arrest by San José police for being on the campus of San José State but continue their outreach efforts.
Tibetans across the Tibetan plateau continue to suffer under a massive clampdown by Chinese authorities in the wake of protests that began in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa on March 10th, anniversary of the 1959 uprising against China’s occupation, and rippled across the Tibetan plateau. Hundreds of Tibetans were killed in China’s violent crackdown against Tibetan protests, and thousands of Tibetans remain detained, according to conservative estimates from a variety of sources. Buddhist monasteries and nunneries have been sealed off, and Chinese officials have touted political indoctrination campaigns designed to break Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule.
Recently, reports have emerged that at least 1,000 Buddhist monks from the major monasteries around the capital city Lhasa have been shipped more than 1,000 kilometers away to prisons and detention camps in northern and eastern Tibet. The Times of London reported that family members of the monks have been told they will be released only after the Olympics, and forced to return to their home villages. A large majority of the monks studying in Lhasa have traveled there from other parts of Tibet to study at the renowned monasteries around the capital. With a few limited exceptions, international media remain effectively barred from Tibet.
-30-Written by ft08editor · Filed Under Press Releases