April 18, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York – Students for a Free Tibet calls on the International Olympic Committee to reject China's plan to run the Olympic torch over Mount Everest and through Tibet. The IOC is currently meeting in Beijing and will make a final decision on China’s proposed torch route – including plans to take it through Tibet and Taiwan – by April 26th.
“Allowing China to run the Olympic torch through Tibet would mean the IOC’s mark of approval for China's military occupation of our nation,” said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “Nothing in the mission of the Olympic Games includes providing validation for the most abhorrent and shameful policies of the host nation.”
“The IOC has nine days to make the right decision and keep the Olympic torch out of what the Associated Press recently called a ‘politically charged territory’,” Tethong continued. “It has no business helping the Chinese government strengthen its claim over Tibet. The IOC has a moral obligation to stop the Olympic Games from becoming a means for China to legitimize its authoritarian rule over Tibet and other occupied territories.”
“This shouldn’t be a hard decision for the IOC members to make,” said Kate Woznow, Director of Students for a Free Tibet in Canada. “The international community expects the IOC to show they have a backbone and will not allow the Chinese government to use the Olympic Games to cover up the terrible reality of China’s repressive rule in Tibet.”
“Olympics organizers are quoted as saying ‘the torch symbolizes peace and friendship,’” Woznow added. “Sending the torch through Tibet would undermine this message and shows a complete disregard for the suffering of the Tibetan people.”
The thirty-ninth Olympic Games are scheduled to be held in Beijing in August 2008. China has proposed bringing the Olympic torch to the summit of Mount Everest next year on its way to Beijing. The Beijing Games have already been the subject of major protests by the Tibetan exile community and have been called “the Genocide Olympics” by Darfur activists. Tibet has been occupied by China since 1949.
Lhadon Tethong (917) 418-4181 (New York)
Kate Woznow (778) 322-3071 (Vancouver)Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is a network of students and young people campaigning for Tibetan independence. With 650 chapters in more than thirty countries worldwide, SFT is working to shine the Olympic spotlight on China’s occupation of Tibet. SFT is based in New York, with offices in Vancouver, London, and Dharamsala, India.www.studentsforafreetibet.org