On the heels of its global success last week, 'Candle for Tibet' declares that it will not let Tibet be forgotten after the Beijing Olympic Games, and publicizes its next action: vigils outside Chinese embassies worldwide on the night before the Olympic closing ceremony.
Tel Aviv, August 11, 2008 — Three days after millions of people from over 150 countries lit candles for freedom in Tibet, 'Candle for Tibet' (CFT) announces its next protest action.
CFT is organizing public candle lighting vigils in front of every Chinese embassy across the globe on Saturday, August 23, at 9:00 p.m. of each embassy's local time. This date is the night before the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Last week's CFT action, called "The Greatest Light Protest on Earth," started Thursday at 9:00 p.m. on the eve of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Thursday's protest event began with thousands of people in Dharamsala, India marching with candles and torches in their hands. Millions more in hundreds of cities around the world then joined the global candle lighting vigil when their local time hit 9:00 p.m.
CFT participants lit candles in their homes, with friends and in public squares and other settings to express their support of freedom for Tibet. Vigils were reported in almost every major city in the world. In Sydney, Australia alone there were at least four separate vigils.
Protest group Sad Smokey Mountains also lit red smoke flares from the peaks of mountains worldwide, and the Art of Peace Foundation held a CFT candle lighting vigil during the launch party for its album 'Songs for Tibet.' Artists who contributed tracks to the charity album include Sting, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Alanis Morissette, and Imogen Heap.
Tibetan vocal diva Yungchen Lhamo and Buddhist scholar and author Robert Thurman also participated in candle lighting vigils. And His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered his blessing of the collective global event.
"We realize that Tibet is in the news because of the Olympic Games, but we will not allow the world to forget Tibet just because the Olympic Games have ended," said David Califa, who started the CFT campaign four months ago. "We believe that after the world has seen China's showcase of 'digitizing' its people during the opening ceremony, we can expect much greater participation in our next light protest."
CFT participants are also encouraged to light candles at home, with friends and in public places on August 23 if there is no Chinese embassy in their area. Califa advises those who plan to protest in front of a Chinese embassy or in another public space to get a permit to do so.
"Our people are already working on getting the appropriate permits from police and local authorities around the world," said Califa.
Thurman, who led last week's CFT vigil in New York City's Union Square, has said, "The Candle for Tibet initiative is a most wonderful thing, fitting in with the Tibetan tradition of lighting votive lamps in long rows in temples and in special butter lamp houses outside. We seem powerless to ameliorate conditions on the ground [in Tibet] in the present crisis moment. This peaceful prayer vigil, since it focuses the minds of many millions on the different sufferings of tormented and tormentor alike, is a powerful way to intervene. And it does not preclude anything else we can think of and do further on. I hope everyone who reads this will join in this important effort."
"We have been receiving fantastic reports from all over the world" said Califa, an Israeli citizen who has received significant help with organizing the CFT campaigns from Jens Muegge of Germany and Qristina Cooper, a UK citizen living in the US. "When I woke up on Friday, I had more than 1,200 e-mails waiting from participants wanting to share how their local vigils went. It was a simply amazing collective global event."
The CFT campaign is a true grassroots campaign. Started as an event in the social networking Web site Facebook, it quickly moved into an independent Web site at www.candle4tibet.org and launched its own social network at candle4tibet.ning.com. Candle4Tibet now boasts over 4,000 registered network participants who have assisted in the organizing of millions of vigil participants worldwide.
The campaign has no formal administration of any kind, no official spokesperson and no established relations with the media, and it operates on a miniscule budget. However, it has grown exponentially by leveraging its participants' contacts in almost every social network across the Internet as well as the contacts of organizations that support the CFT mission.
Today CFT enjoys support from H.H. the Dalai Lama, the International Tibet Support Network (ITSN), an international coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that support Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet, and numerous other Tibet and human rights support groups. It is also endorsed by prominent public figures such as Thurman.
A complete list of CFT public vigils that took place can be found at www.candle4tibet.org/en/vigils
. Photos and videos of last week's candle lighting vigils may be seen at candle4tibet.ning.com/groups