By Phurbu Thinley
The banner reading "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" hangs on the Great Wall of China, and was taken off by Chinese authorities only after two hours
Hong Kong, August 7: Six Tibet independence activists from UK, US, and Canada were detained today after unfurling a 450-Sq foot Free Tibet banner on the Great Wall of China.
The huge banner read "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" in English and Chinese, Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) said in its latest statement.
The dramatic action atop China’s famous landmark structure took place on the eve of the one-year countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Tibet advocacy groups assert that China is attempting to use the 2008 Games as a tool to legitimize its illegal occupation of Tibet.
The six activists staged the demonstration for two hours before they were taken away by the Chinese authorities, SFT reported.
Melanie Raoul (Vancouver, Canada), Sam Price (Vancouver, Canada), Leslie Kaup (South St. Paul, Minnesota), Nupur Modi (Oakland, California), Duane Martinez (Sausalito, California) and Pete Speller (Cambridge, UK) are six of them.
The pro-Independence group for Tibet has no clue about their current whereabouts.
This is the independence group’s second such surprising protest.
Earlier this year, five activists from the organisation were arrested and later deported by China after they staged protest at the Everest base camp unveiling similar banners.
"The Chinese government is exploiting the Olympics to gain acceptance as a world leader,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy Director of SFT. “By protesting at the Great Wall, the most recognizable symbol of Chinese nationhood, we're sending a clear message that China's dream of international leadership cannot be realized as long as it continues its brutal occupation of Tibet," he said.
Dorjee was among the five activists who staged the dramatic protest at the Tibetan side of the Everest base.
"We're appealing to the international community to shine the light of scrutiny on China in the coming year," added Dorjee. "The Olympic dream of Tibetans is freedom by August 2008, and we call on the IOC and the global community to help us make this a reality," he says.
SFT said that today’s protest was also directed at the IOC for failing to fulfill its commitment to hold the Chinese government accountable with regards to its human rights record.
On August 4 2007, hundreds of Tibetans and their supporters, led by four prominent organisations,launched the “Bring Tibet to the 2008 Games” campaign in New Delhi to promote and advocate inclusion of “Team Tibet” in the 2008 Olympic Games. (Photo by Tenzin Choejor)
In 2002, IOC President Jacques Rogge said, "If human rights are not acted upon [by China] to our satisfaction then we will act."
According to Human Rights Watch report
released last week, "the Chinese government shows no substantive progress in addressing long-standing human rights concerns."
Matt Whitticase, spokesperson for Free Tibet Campaign said, "The IOC assured the global community that China's human rights record would improve as a result of staging the Games. Instead, we have seen the opposite with a hardening of China's position in Tibet, a sustained government-sponsored resettlement program of Tibetan nomads, increased social and economic marginalization of Tibetans following the launch of the China-Tibet railway, and the closing off of Tibet to journalists and media scrutiny.
“To stop the Chinese government from acting with impunity in Tibet, the IOC must publicly demand that journalists have unrestricted access to Tibet. By refusing to ‘act’, as it promised, the IOC only helps China to cover up its lamentable human rights record in Tibet," Whitticase said.
Meanwhile, SFT’s Executive Director Lhadon Tethong is currently in Beijing and is said to be trying to meet with IOC President Jacque Rogge today who is in Beijing for tomorrow's celebrations.
Tethong is demanding the IOC to immediately oppose propaganda efforts by the Chinese government to underscore its claim to Tibet, and use its influence to affect Substantive progress on human rights in China and a meaningful resolution to the occupation of Tibet.
In Beijing, since Wednesday, Tethong has been openly blogging at www.BeijingWideOpen.org, exposing the reality behind China's blatant Olympics propaganda, SFT said.
To mark the Olympics one-year countdown, Tibetans and their supporters worldwide are organizing protests to demand a solution to the Tibet issue.
According to SFT, demonstrations at China's historical landmarks, sports arenas, and at Chinese Embassies and Consulates around the world would continue to the August 2008 Games in Beijing.
As one year countdown to the 2008 Games begins tomorrow, Tibetans and their support groups around the world are expected to spark off a major movement under the International Day of action for Tibet
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For more information, contact:
Kate Woznow (Hong Kong) + 852 657-34874,
Matt Whitticase (Hong Kong) + 852 915-21256,
Tenzin Dorjee (New York) +1 917-304-4571