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Late one night in October 1988 I was woken by a telephone call from the United States. I was living in Japan then, teaching English and writing the occasional book review for the Japan Times. My twenty year work stint in exile Tibetan society had ended a few years earlier when I had been dismissed (with the aid of a violent McLeod Ganj mob) from my post as director of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) for the alleged irreverence of a couple of my plays.

An urgent voice in Tibetan asked “Jamyang Norbu, Jamyang Norbu, can you hear me. I am Thupten Jigme Norbu.” For a while I couldn’t place the name and then realized it was Taktser Rimpoche, the Dalai Lama’s oldest brother.

“Yes Rimpoche I can hear you, how are you?”

“Jamyang Norbu, Jamyang Norbu, do you know what has happened.”

“What is it Rimpoche?”

“They have given up our rangzen.”

“Rimpoche, what are you saying?

“Gyalwa Rimpoche made a statement at this place, Strasbourg…”

And he told me what had happened.

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Ambassador Martin Ihoeghian Uhomohbhi of Nigeria, the President of the UN Human Rights Council, this morning overruled an attempt by a Chinese delegate to interrupt a statement on Tibet by a German NGO. A member of Society for Threatened Peoples was speaking with reference to the response given by the Chinese authorities to three human rights experts of the Council, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people on the “alleged severe impact of resettlement programs and forced evictions that are currently being implemented in Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”

The Ninth Session of the Human Rights Council was having an interactive dialogue on the report submitted to the body by Prof. James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights of indigenous peoples. In an addendum to his report called “summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received”, the Special Rapporteur detailed the 3 October 2007 communication to the Chinese authorities stating: “It was alleged that tens of thousands of Tibetans are being negatively affected by nomad settlement and resettlement, land confiscation and fencing policies, which are mainly implemented in Golok (Guoluo) and Yushu districts of Qinghai province, but also in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other provinces that have large Tibetan populations, including Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. It was reported that these policies have had a very adverse impact on the traditional lifestyles and living patterns in Tibetan areas, affecting directly the fabric of traditional Tibetan life and devastating the economy of these communities. The implementation of these policies contributes to the challenges that Tibetan cultural and religious identity face today.”

To this communication which was joined by the Special Rapporteur Special Rapporteur on adequate housing and the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, China responded on 21 December 2007 claiming “…a series of projects for the benefit of the people in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) have been carried out. These projects support and encourage the rapid development of Tibetan economy and society, regenerate and strengthen agricultural and pastoral lands, and improve living and economic conditions of farmers and pastoralists. The Government stressed that, at the same time, it has paid attention to and respected the thoughts of the Tibetan people and supported their traditional lives, customs, and culture. The Government noted that it has received widespread support and favorable comments about the projects from the farmers and pastoralists.”

The statement by Society for Threatened Peoples delivered by Tenzin S. Kayta while welcoming China’s response alerted the Council that the NGO “believe the issue of consent of the Tibetans involved is fundamental … given the human rights crisis prevailing on the Tibetan Plateau, an independent analysis here would be impossible.” The three-minute statement added: “However, a documentary called, “Dispatches-Undercover in Tibet” released this year by Channel 4 British Television revealed that “the nomadic way of life being forcefully wiped out as native Tibetans are stripped of their land and livestock and are being resettled in concrete camps.”

A representative of the Chinese delegation reasoned that the NGO statement was not relevant to the topic under discussion in the Council to which the Council President ruled that the statement was in order when he even read the first paragraph of the NGO statement. The Chinese delegate then asserted that “Tibet was a part of China and Tibetan people are one of 56 ethnic groups of China” while rejecting notion of the existence of indigenous people in present-day China. “We don’t have indigenous people”, the Chinese delegate claimed.

Society for Threatened Peoples intervention also informed the Council about the interview given to the British TV documentary in which a Tibetan evicted from his grasslands says: “Life here is incredibly hard. People are suffering from hunger and hardship. They have no jobs and they have no food…no land. The only way they can fill their empty stomachs is by stealing. Nobody wanted to move here. But if you ask questions dressed like a Chinese, they won’t dare to tell you the truth. They will only have good things to say because we live in terror…Its just like living through the Cultural Revolution. Everybody is so depressed, they look awful, their faces have become pale, and their eyes are sunken. Everyone is afraid of speaking the truth. I could be arrested tomorrow if they knew what I’ve just said.”

After studying China’s response, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of indigenous peoples, observes that he “will continue to closely monitor the situation and called on China “to take the necessary measures to ensure that the development projects referred to do not infringe the human rights of the people affected and that any such adverse impacts be remedied promptly.”
Responding to China’s position that there are no indigenous people in China, Prof. Anaya stated that while he understands the “sensitivities” that many States have on the issue on the coverage of the term indigenous peoples. However, he encouraged “a human rights-based approach, one which looks to the particular issues involved and the human rights dimensions of those issues.” He added: “I see issues that are common to indigenous peoples throughout the world and the focus that I will be advancing is one on those particular issues on the human rights dimensions of them as I believe my predecessor did in his communication on the situation of Tibetans in China.”

Society for Threatened Peoples urged the Special Rapporteur also urged “the Special Rapporteur to closely monitor the situation in Tibet, including by seeking a fact-finding mission to ascertain the fate Tibetans evicted from their ancestral lands.”

On Monday, the Ninth Session of the Council heard a statement from the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay who said: “Genocide is the ultimate form of discrimination …We must all do everything in our power to prevent it. What I learned as a judge on the Rwanda Tribunal about the way in which one human being can abuse another, will haunt me forever.”

Taktser Rinpoche, also known as Thupten Jigme Norbu, the eldest brother of the Dalai Lama breathed his last yesterday (September 5, 2008 after prolonged illness at his home in Indiana in the United States. Born in 1922 in the small village of Taktser in Amdo province to Choekyong Tsering, later known as Gyayab Chenmo (1899-1947), and mother Dekyi Tsering, later known as Gyalyum Chenmo (1900-1981) Rinpoche was 86.

Thupten Jigme Norbu was recognized as the reincarnation of Taktser Rinpoche at the tender age of three by the thirteenth Dalai Lama and enrolled to Kumbum Monastery in Amdo where he began his monastic studies and was subsequently became its abbot at the age of 27.

In 1950, Rinpoche escaped Tibet to educate people about the atrocities in his country. Before moving to the United States in 1951, he traveled the world meeting government and United Nations officials to establish support for Tibet. Sadly, no one listened.

Taktser Rinpoche played a key role in advising the Dalai Lama to leave Tibet fearing the Chinese Communist Party’s intentions. Though pro-independence, a stand in sharp contrast to that of the Dalai Lama’s middle way approach, Taktser Rinpoche dedicated his life to serving the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people. In 1995, he founded the International Tibet Independence Movement and led three independence walks in Indiana, Washington and Toronto over the next few years.

“My admiration and respect for Taktser Rinpoche knows no bounds. His actions and dedication to securing Tibet’s independence are a true act of patriotism. He serves as an inspiration for all Tibetans,” Sonam Wangdu, Chairperson of the New York based U.S. Tibet Committee, was quoted as saying in a newsreport published in June this year on ITIM website. In the same report, Professor Larry Gerstein, president of the ITIM said of Rinpoche, “Since leaving Tibet in 1949, Rinpoche has been a strong and steady activist for Tibet’s independence.”

He served as the Representative of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile to Japan and North America. He was the first Tibetan to live in the United States.

He also served as Professor of Tibetan Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Taktser Rinpoche was also a writer and penned his autobiography, Tibet Is My Country as told to Heinrich Harrer in 1959. Tibet was co-written with Colin Turnbull in 1970, and a collection of essays from 1994 by Tibetans in exile, mostly Tibetan Americans called Tibet: The Issue Is Independence – Tibetans-in-Exile Address the Key Tibetan Issue the World Avoids features an introduction by Rinpoche. Along with Robert B. Ekvall he also wrote the first English translation of Younger Brother Don Yod, a Tibetan play by the fifth Panchen Lama Lobsang Yeshe in 1969.

Rinpoche founded the Tibetan Culture Center in 1979 in Bloomington which was later renamed Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in 2006.

In 2002 however he suffered a series of strokes and had been unwell since.
Even in ill health, Rinpoche remained active in his pursuit for the preservation of Tibetan culture and rights of the Tibetan people. He participated in the Freedom Torch reception ceremony in June 2008.

The Tibetan government in exile mourned the demise of Rinpoche with prayers in the afternoon as offices remained shut.

He is survived by his wife Kunyang Norbu, sons Lhundup Norbu, 46, Kunga Norbu, 45 and Jigme, 42 and their families.

DHARAMSALA—A group of Tibetan monks, originally from Tibetan-populated regions of China’s southwest Sichuan province, has been released from detention in Qinghai province and returned to their home areas, according to Tibetan sources.

The group had been held for more than four months in the town of Golmud, in Qinghai, with monks from other regions.

All had been studying in monasteries in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and were suspected of involvement in protests there in March against Chinese rule.

Monks originally from Qinghai had been released earlier into the custody of officials from Qinghai’s United Front and Religious Affairs Bureau and taken from Golmud into house arrest near their homes.

Held longer

The group from Sichuan—an area still troubled by anti-China protests—was held in Golmud for a longer time, a Tibetan monk living in India said, citing sources in the region.

“They were told that they would be detained pending receipt of a letter from the Sichuan authorities agreeing to take them into custody,” the monk, who asked to be identified only as Tsering, said.

“Finally, a group of 50 to 80 monks and laypersons arrived at the Aba [in Tibetan, Ngaba] county center in Sichuan on Aug. 27,” Tsering said. “They are being detained in a school compound close to the county government complex.”

“The county officials, the police, and the army are jointly monitoring them. They could be undergoing some kind of political re-education campaign.”

Tsering said the monks being held in the school compound are “not allowed to leave” the complex, though their relatives can visit them at the school.

Among those detained are 27 monks from Kirti monastery and monks from the Tse and Gomang monasteries in Aba.

“There are also some businessmen from Aba who were detained in Lhasa during the protests,” Tsering said.

Separate groups

Another monk, one of those released, said the monks were taken from Golmud and returned to Sichuan in separate groups.

“On Aug. 26, a group of 60 monks detained in Golmud was moved to the Aba area in Sichuan. Officials of the United Front and Religious Affairs Bureau, along with a group of local police, went to Golmud and took charge of the monks belonging to their respective counties,” the monk said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Other monks belonging to different areas in Sichuan were moved in different groups on Aug. 27, 28, and 29 from Golmud under escort by officials from their respective United Front and Religious Affairs Bureaus and the police. The last group of 14 monks was moved on Aug. 29 to the Kardze area from Golmud.”

The monks who were held in Golmud had endured beatings and psychological torture, the released monk said. “As a result, many became ill and several developed heart problems.”

“They have been told not to return to their monasteries in Lhasa. Even [now], in their hometowns, their movements are restricted, and they cannot leave without the approval of the local authorities.”

Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan service. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has “no physical health problems” and is expected to be released from hospital late Sunday, a senior aide said.

The 73-year-old leader was taken to hospital in Mumbai on Thursday after complaining of “abdominal discomfort,” according to his aides.

“Doctors say he has no physical health problems except that he is physically exhausted,” Tenzin Taklha, secretary to the Dalai Lama, told AFP on Saturday.

“The Dalai Lama will be in hospital until tomorrow (Sunday) evening and after that he will be out of the hospital,” he said.

“He may stay in Mumbai for a few more days of rest,” Taklha added.

The Buddhist monk had joined Tibetans in a 12-hour fast on Saturday to draw attention to the human rights situation in their homeland and pray for world peace.

“He has started his fast from his hospital bed,” Taklha said.

In recent months, the Dalai Lama pursued a gruelling travel itinerary as he campaigned for improved human rights in Tibet while China readied to host the Olympic Games in Beijing.

In 2002 the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists was admitted to hospital after falling ill with stomach pains. An infection was later diagnosed.

China sent troops into Tibet in 1950 and “liberated” it the following year. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama has been pursuing a “middle-path” policy — which espouses “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet, rather than full independence as many younger, more radical activists are demanding.

But China has vilified him as “mastermind” of what it called a drive to sabotage the Olympics and destabilise the country.

Violent protests against Beijing’s rule broke out across Tibet in March, sparking a heavy Chinese crackdown that has drawn global condemnation.

Dharamsala, August 30: Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala, the home of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, led a 12-hr mass fasting and prayer service, in conjunction with Tibetans and supporters around the world, to draw attention to the plight of the Tibetan people.

While observing fasting, the Tibetan exiles and supporters simultaneously offered prayers for the wellbeing and long life of the Dalai Lama, world peace and, for freedom from oppression in China, Tibet and elsewhere.

Tibetan Government offices, schools and usual businesses run by Tibetans here remained closed to observe the day-long mass prayer service and fasting. In a massive show of strengthening their nonviolent commitment to end China’s oppression in their Himalayan homeland, the courtyard of the Main Tibetan Temple (Tsuglag-Khang), the official venue for the peaceful action, remained packed to the fullest. Some five thousand or more, including Tibet supporters and people from Himalayan region, congregated since 7:00 in the morning to take part in it.

Fasting with prayers are also being observed by Tibetans at respective Tibetans schools, monasteries, nunneries and dharma centres that are located around Dharamsala but could not make it to the main Tibetan Temple here.

Many others are known to be observing the day-long fasting and holding prayers at their homes.
Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche and others members of the cabinet, Speaker and Deputy Speaker and members of the Tibetan Parliament and other senior government officials have taken part in the non-violent action for Tibet.

Senior leaders of the Tibet’s Government-in-exile, including Kalon Tripa (PM) and his cabinet ministers, and Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament took part in the day-long fasting and prayer service in Dharamsala on Saturday
“We are immensely fortunate and grateful that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consented to take part in person here, but due to a slight indisposition this could not happen,” PM Prof. Rinpoche said this morning in his official address to the gathering.

“However, His Holiness is observing the fasting and prayer from Mumbai today and we convey our immense gratitude and respect to him,” he added.

Rinpoche said this kind of activity was not a “protest led by hatred, rancour and anger but by the teachings of the Lord Buddha in all the vehicles to refrain from harming others and do everything to benefit others with love and compassion, which is the essence of spiritual practice”.

“Due to the consistent effort and guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to pursue non-violent methods to resolve the Tibetan issue, it has been many years that most of the Tibetan movements remained free from gross physical violence, he said. “This garnered immense support from around the world for the just cause of Tibet,” he added.

“Our pursuit of non-violence has not only enabled us to keep alive the Tibetan issue but also compelled the People’s Republic of China to respond to our policy of rapprochement irrespective of their sincerity” he said.

Rinpoche expressed hope that the sincere practice of non-violence by Tibetan people would “ultimately help change the mind of the PRC authorities to more compassionate” and urged all Tibetans to put “concerted non-violent efforts to bring natural end to the torture and persecution in Tibet”.

The Tibetan PM said “We pay our condolence and homage to those who lost their lives and those who are imprisoned, tortured and beaten in the recent uprisings in Tibet,” he said.

“We also pray and sympathise for the victims of the earthquakes in Sichuan and the one in South-western Tibet recently and the disaster caused by flood in some other part as well”.

Speaker Karma Chophel, also the chairman of the Tibetan Solidarity Committee, said today’s non-violent action was guided to enhance collective merits of all those people in the world in general and Tibetans in particular who have been victims of forced oppression and violence and deprived of fundamental human rights.

He said the non-violent action was to offer prayers for the long and healthy life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to relieve those Tibetan who are still enduring atrocities under the brutal Chinese oppression.

Since March this year, major anti-China unrests broke out in Lhasa that slowly spilled out into other Tibetan regions. Chinese communist authorities responded with military crackdown on Tibetan demonstrations leading to deaths and arbitrary arrests of hundreds of Tibetans, and left many more injured and missing.

The March protests in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet were among the biggest in almost 50 years of oppressive Chinese rule.

China sent tens of thousands of troops into Tibetan regions to quash the demonstrations. Its harsh response brought worldwide criticism, and several world leaders even threatened to boycott the Beijing Olympics, which ended last Sunday.

China repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan religious leader, and his followers of instigating the unrest and trying to derail the games. Facing strong international pressure, Beijing agreed to hold talks with the Dalai Lama’s representatives two times after large scale unrests across Tibet.

However, Beijing has continued to vilify the exiled Tibetan leader, most recently for a trip to France that ended last week.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, he accused Beijing of imposing a new, long-term “plan of brutal repression” and building new military camps in Tibetan areas.

The Dalai Lama has said that despite China’s harsh crackdown on the March demonstrations, he still supports a peaceful solution of meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people under China’s rule, not independence.

Today’s worldwide non-violent action campaign, initiated by Tibetan Solidarity Committee, is to further reinforce Tibetan people’s commitment to nonviolence and strengthen its force in their struggle for freedom under the Dalai Lama’s leadership.

Hubert Vialatte, Associated Press

The Dalai Lama wrapped up a high-profile visit to France that coincided with the Beijing Olympics by meeting behind closed doors with the French foreign minister after a religious ceremony Friday attended by the first lady.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, however, was conspicuously absent from both events. He and the exiled Tibetan leader may meet later this year – but avoided what would have been a politically sensitive meeting during the Olympic Games. Friday’s ceremony was among the Dalai Lama’s sole meetings with French authorities during his 11-day trip to France. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Human Rights Minister Rama Yade attended the religious ceremony, the inauguration of a Buddhist temple in the south of France.

Kouchner was the highest-ranking French official to meet with the Dalai Lama. “I told him he would always be welcome in France,” Kouchner told reporters after their talks.

Mathieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk of French origin who served as a translator during the trip, told reporters the “serious situation” in Tibet topped the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Kouchner.

“Coinciding with the Olympic Games, there’s a certain kind of extremely brutal repression that continues to reign,” Ricard said. The Dalai Lama wound a traditional white Tibetan scarf around the neck of first lady and former model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. She, Yade and Kouchner wore the long, silk scarves during the ceremony blessing the temple in the town of Roqueredonde.

Although his visit to France centered mostly around spiritual matters, the Dalai Lama ratcheted up his criticism of the Chinese, accusing Chinese troops of firing at a crowd of Tibetans in China this week and saying people may have been killed during the incident. In an interview with Le Monde daily released Thursday, the Tibetan spiritual leader accused China of imposing a new, long-term “plan of brutal repression” and building new military camps in Tibetan areas. He also expressed disappointment that talks this year between his representatives and Chinese authorities about Tibet ran aground without breakthroughs.

[from Phayul]
By Email
[Thursday, August 21, 2008 17:55]

By Maura Moynihan

The Beijing Summer Olympiad commenced with the Parade of Nations streaming through Bird’s Nest, dancers, canons, fireworks, with scores of diplomats, dignitaries and heads of state cheering from the stands. At 40 billion dollars and counting, one would expect a good show, and indeed it was.

In New Delhi, crowds gathered near Jantar Mantar for a different purpose. There are no fireworks, no corporate sponsors, no VIP lounge. Just a large tent under a neem tree, where the Tibetan Youth Congress has launched a counter Olympic tournament; “Indefinite Fast for Tibet – without food or water – to represent the plight of the six million Tibetans.”

The TYC statement reads; “We request responsible citizens and governments worldwide to stand up against China’s appalling human rights record in Tibet and not commit moral violence by remaining indifferent to the sufferings of the Tibetan people.”

Buddhist monks, refugees from Tibet lie on chairpois, day after day, without food or water in the monsoon heat. Lay Tibetans, and a beautiful wife and mother from Chennai, Asha Reddy, join the fast. You can see dehydration and exhaustion in their eyes and limbs, but their resolve transcends all pain. Their mission has summoned them to a feat of physical endurance to challenge every athlete in Beijing.

Reports from Tibet describe a chilling military crackdown. PLA soldiers stationed on every corner, in every temple. Every day, another soul and body broken by torture. Luractive payments for anyone willing to inform on friends and relatives. Above the TYC tent, banners show the faces of hundreds shot, tortured, killed by the PLA five months before the Olympics. Students and monks, carrying the Tibetan flag through the streets of Lhasa. An act of astonishing courage, a plea for justice, met with bullets, jail, death. No Olympic festivities for the citizens of Tibet.

Here in India the Tibetan flag flies, safely. Delhi’s official protest zone at Jantar Mantar is filled with citizens agitating for One Language One Law, Down with Dowry, Fair Representation for Cooch-Bihar, and The Tibetan People’s Mass Uprising. In the first week of the Beijing Games, a man from Southern China traveled to Beijing, to protest corruption by local Communist officials. He obtained a permit, entered the designated Olympic protest zone and was promptly arrested.

The Tibetan Youth Congress, founded in 1972, is committed to ahmisa and satyagraha, in the tradition of its model, the Indian Congress Party. The Chinese Communist Party has labeled the Tibetan Youth Congress a ‘terrorist organization”, as it launches vicious attacks on the TYC in the international press. Why is the mighty People’s Republic of China so petrified of an unarmed band of monks, students and housewives? Why is the Chinese Embassy sealed by armed commandoes? What do they so fear?

Monks on a hunger strike, in the monsoon heat. Banners with faces of the tortured and the dead. Citizens of the world calling for justice for Tibet. This is what the Chinese Communists Party fears. The truth.

Late into a rainy night, I bade farewell to the TYC volunteers and wandered into the Imperial Hotel, where a sumptuous lobby is filled with tales from the Raj. Redcoats in battle, the Sepoy Mutiny, Queen Victoria upon the throne, sultans, nawabs, maharajas on bended knee before their sovereign. Near the doorway, a small photo of Gandhi and Lord Mountbatten.

Around the corner, the people of Tibet surrender their bodies to the truth, as did the Mahatma to win India’s freedom struggle. 

Empires rise, and then they die.

Maura Moynihan first lived in India where her late father, Amb. Daniel Patrick Moynihan served as US Ambassador in New Delhi

New Delhi, August 19 – Szymon Kolecki, 26, Polish weightlifter who finished second in the men’s 94 kg at the Olympics made a strong statement when he shaved his head as a mark of solidarity with Tibetan monks just before the competition.

“This haircut is from this morning. I can’t directly say why I did it. It’s connected with certain things that the Olympic Charter forbids. But I will say that it’s symbolic,” he told a Polish news agency August 17. 

Kolecki, a member of the Polish team for the 2008 Olympic Games has been very outspoken about China’s policies. “I am outraged by what’s going on in Tibet. When I read about it, I can hardly believe I’ll compete in a country that bloodily suppresses street protests and persecutes people who don’t agree with the party. I can’t believe the Chinese have launched an immense operation to block Lhasa”, he said after the events unfolded in Tibet. 

Earlier in March, a week after the Lhasa unrest where Chinese troops subdued peaceful protestors he said, “Unless the Chinese regime becomes more moderate, I’ll compete with my head shaved in a gesture of solidarity with the Tibetan monks”.

True to his word, a bald Kolecki took centerstage on Sunday bagging the silver medal in his category.

He further added, “Until August 17th, I’ll be focused chiefly on my participation in the contest. But after that I’ll keep my eyes wide open and if I see something worrying, I’ll surely not look away.”

Kolecki was born on October 12, 1981 in Olawa, a town in south-western Poland and was a silver medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney after which a serious back injury forced him to put his career on hold. He recuperated and returned to weightlifting in late 2005 and remains a five time gold winner at the European Championships over the years.