Beijing, August 9 – Five Tibet supporters held a dramatic protest in Tiananmen Square early this afternoon, calling for an end to the Chinese government’s occupation of Tibet. Four of the activists, lying down and draped in Tibetan national flags, staged a mock die-in with the famous portrait of Mao in the background. A fifth activist spoke about their reason for protesting there today.
The five activists, David Demes, 21, from Germany, Evan Silverman, 31, Diane Gatterdam, 55, and Joan Roney, 39, from the United States, and Chris Schwartz, 24, from Canada, were detained by security approximately ten minutes after the protest began.
“The Chinese government is seeking to cover up its ugly occupation of Tibet with the bright lights of the Olympics,” said Matt Whitticase, Press Officer of Free Tibet Campaign. “Our action at Tiananmen Square today highlights the determination of Tibetans and people of conscience that no amount of repression from the Chinese government will extinguish the desire of Tibetans for freedom and to speak out against China’s worsening abuses in Tibet.”
“The world is watching China today as the Olympics begin, and with this action, the voices of the Tibetan people will be heard despite the best attempts of the Chinese authorities to silence them,” said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “The Chinese government will not be allowed to use the Olympics to hide the reality of its harsh rule inside Tibet.”
The action follows two other high-profile protests by Tibet supporters in Beijing. On August 8th, one hour before the opening ceremony began, three activists held Tibetan flags aloft near the Bird’s Nest stadium and the Olympic Park. They were tackled by security and swiftly detained; they were deported from Beijing at 1pm today and are on flights to New York. Earlier in the week, four members of Students for a Free Tibet hung two banners outside the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium. The two Americans and two Britons were detained and swiftly deported. They arrived in their home countries on August 7th.Watch the video here.
In Beijing: John Hocevar, eyewitness, founder of Students for a Free Tibet, +86 15 011 000 494
Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director, Students for a Free Tibet and Kate Woznow, Campaigns Director, Students for a Free Tibet, +1 917-289-0228 or +44 2070-846-359
Matt Whitticase, Free Tibet Campaign, + 66 844 549 764