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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

Plain clothed security officers detain Associated Press photographer Ng Han Guan, center, after pro-Tibet protesters held a demonstration opposite the National Stadium, where Olympic athletics competition had just finished, early Thursday July 21, 2008 in Beijing. Swarms of plainclothes police took away four foreign activists protesting Chinese rule over Tibet – the latest in a series of such demonstrations during the Olympics. Ng, and one other AP photographer were roughed up by the security officers, forced into cars and taken to a nearby building where they questioned before being released. (AP Photo/Greg Baker) 

As the Olympics are beginning to wind down, the Dalai Lama said on Thursday that Chinese security forces opened fire on a crowd this week in eastern Tibet and may have killed 140 people. “The Chinese army again fired on a crowd on Monday August 18, in the Kham region in eastern Tibet,” he told Le Monde. “One hundred and forty Tibetans are reported to have been killed, but the figure needs to be confirmed.”

He said that since March, when China cracked down on protests against Chinese rule in the Himalayan territory, “reliable witnesses say that 400 people have been killed in the region of (Tibetan capital) Lhasa alone.”

“Killed by bullets, even though they were protesting without weapons. Their bodies were never given back to their families,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader who is in France for a 12-day visit.

France is struggling to mend ties with China after President Nicolas Sarkozy angered Beijing by threatening to boycott the opening of the Olympic Games following the Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

“Mend ties”? With China after all they’ve done? It blows my mind. It also angers me that the Tibetan people are worth less than political machinations. I really thought the games would provide a venue for people to speak up and speak out for freedom–but it seems as though athletes are just focused on self-glory and getting a damn medal.

Five pro-Tibet activists unfurled a banner spelling out “Free Tibet” in English and Chinese in bright blue LED “throwie” lights in Beijing’s Olympic Park tonight. The five were detained by security personnel after displaying the banner for about 20 seconds at 11:48 pm August 19th. Their whereabouts are unknown.

 

The detained activists are Americans Amy Johnson, 33, Sam Corbin, 24, Liza Smith, 31, Jacob Blumenfeld, 26, and Lauren Valle, 21.

“The Chinese government is desperate to turn the world’s attention away from its abuses in Tibet as the Olympics take place, but the creativity and determination of Tibetans and their supporters has once again ensured that Tibetan voices are heard and seen in Beijing despite the massive security clampdown,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “The Chinese leadership must realize that the only way it can make the issue of Tibet disappear is to acknowledge the demands of the Tibetan people and work with them to bring an end to China’s occupation of Tibet.”

The lights used on the banner are blue 10 mm light-emitting diodes (LEDs) powered by small batteries, commonly known as “throwies.” Throwies are open-source technology attributed to OpenLab and Graffiti Research Lab, developed as a means of creating non-destructive graffiti and light displays. This is the first time ever that they have been used on a banner. James Powderly, free speech activist and co-founder of the Graffiti Research Lab (GRL), was detained in Beijing early this morning (link).

Students for a Free Tibet has staged seven protests in Beijing over the last two weeks, placing the issue of Tibet’s occupation front and centre as China hosts the Olympic Games. The protests have included a dramatic banner hang near the Bird’s Nest Stadium; a display of Tibetan flags near the Bird’s Nest just before the opening ceremony began; a symbolic die-in at Tiananmen Square; a protest by a Tibetan woman with flags outside Tiananmen Square; a blockade of the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park; and “Free Tibet” banner hang outside the CCTV headquarters. Thirty-seven members and supporters have been detained and deported, not including those detained today.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is a network of young people and activists campaigning for Tibetan independence, with 700 chapters in more than 30 countries worldwide. SFT’s international headquarters are in New York, with offices in Toronto, London, and Dharamsala, India.

Contacts: In Asia, Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director, and Kate Woznow, Campaigns Director, +1 917 289 0219 or +44 20 7084 6245

Watch video here.

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.

PARIS, Aug 16 – The Dalai Lama said on Saturday China was mistreating and torturing civilians in Tibet while the Olympic Games were going on.

“Unfortunately the Olympic spirit is not being respected at all by Chinese officials in Tibet,” he said in an interview on France’s TF1 television, when asked if the tradition of an Olympic truce was being respected.

“There are restrictions on the circulation of information, very strong censorship,” he said.

“Civilians are often arrested, violently tortured to the point where they die. It’s really very, very sad,” he said.

The Dalai Lama is on a two-week visit to France, mostly focused on religious commitments. He has made few political comments but he criticised China’s actions in Tibet at a meeting on Wednesday with French legislators.

The visit has triggered a domestic row in France, where critics accuse President Nicolas Sarkozy of caving into Chinese pressure by declining to meet him.

On Saturday he met Sarkozy’s challenger in last year’s presidential election, Segolene Royal, who said she intended to visit Tibet.

Foreign activists have staged a number of protests in Beijing to highlight what they say is repression of Tibetans in the Himalayan region but the Dalai Lama has appealed to supporters not to disrupt the Games.

The Daily Telegraph [Sunday, August 17, 2008 12:51]
By Claire Harvey

WE’VE seen almost every possible emotion at these Olympics: misery, joy, despair and a wonderful display of raw surprise by the man from Togo.

Benjamin Boukpeti was so astonished at winning Togo’s first medal (of any colour) in the K-1 slalom that he snapped his oar in half, then waved the Togo flag so violently that he capsized. It was lovely.

There has been some sensational soprano grunting, too, from the tiny girl weightlifters. Not sure if it counts as an emotion but, as a display of feeling, there’s nothing so emphatic as a staccato pre-jerk bark from a little lady with barrel thighs.

But there’s been no hint that the athletes in Beijing think or feel anything beyond the rush of lactic acid. Where’s the political consciousness, people?

Apart from an open letter sent to Chinese Premier Hu Jintao before the Games, in which 120 past and present athletes (sadly, none of them Australian) raised concerns about Tibet, there has been a depressing silence.

Don’t competitors want to acknowledge that they’re competing in a police state? Are they conscious of what happens beyond the ring of army tanks around the Olympic precinct? What a shame.

When the International Olympic Committee handed hosting rights to China, we read a great deal of speculation about how the IOC hoped it could help democratise China.

My natural inclination is to suspect the IOC of dodginess at every opportunity, but I did have some hope that this might just turn out to be more than one diseased old regime clapping another on the back.

Perhaps, I thought, this will shine a disinfecting light into the dark corners of repression. And, surely, some brave athlete will use their time on the winner’s podium to stick two fingers up to the regime.

If anyone has the opportunity to use fame for good, it’s Olympic athletes.

They have the exposure – and the orthodontic perfection – to get a message heard around the globe. They also have a captive audience of journalists desperate to hold Beijing accountable for the off-field bullying and brutality we all know is going on.

If Michael Phelps can get the Olympic rings tattooed on one hip and a big M for Michigan University on the other, why not a T for Tibet on his ankle?

What’s stopping Libby Trickett saying something like: “Oh, and while I’m live on television, I’d like to thank China for hosting the Games and encourage the government to embrace the spirit of openness and harmony by releasing a few political prisoners”.

Yes, I know the Australian Olympic Committee has said athletes aren’t allowed to do that sort of thing, and I’m well aware our Olympic bureaucrats have a record of petty score-settling that may make team members wary of doing anything naughty.

The AOC, remember, spent three decades punishing Peter Norman for wearing a human rights badge on the podium while Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave a black power salute at the 1968 Games.

Today’s athletes have the same opportunity to make their voices heard. They’ve had all the benefits of education, travel and, in many cases, exposure to the work of international charities to enlarge their sense of global citizenship.

And they’re the only ones who can do it.

The Beijing Organising Committee is doing everything in its power to stop journalists raising politics. A BOCOG moderator blocked a question about the Russia-Georgia war during a press conference for a Georgian medal-winner.

When asked why, BOCOG spokesman Wei Wang trotted out the usual pap about Rule 51.3 of the Olympic Charter, which forbids the promotion of political agendas.

BOCOG may feel comfortable bullying journalists but the politburo isn’t going to try taking a medal off an athlete for chucking in the odd “Free Tibet!” at the end of a press conference.

It’s worth the risk, isn’t it?

By Tenzin Sangmo

Dhondup Tsering, 63 years old. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)
New Delhi, August 16 – The Tibetan Youth Congress has today launched the third batch of hunger strikers with renewed vengeance. After the second volume of six men were forced to the hospital August 14, TYC President Tsewang Rinzin made the announcement at the camp site earlier today.

The third group of fasting Tibetans include Dhondup Tsering, 63, Camp No. 16, Bylakuppe who is the oldest among all eighteen participants, Tsering Tashi, 21, hails from Ladakh, Thupten Tsewang, 20, from Sera Jey was one of the marchers from TYC Independence March to Bodh Gaya in May, Jampa Kelsang, 33, Sera Jay, Nawang Samten, 26, Drepung Gomang, core marcher of Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement’s March to Tibet which began from Dharamsala and Tashi Gyamtso, 31 from Drepung Monastery in South India.

Dhondup Tsering, 63 told Phayul, “I am here to condemn China’s inhuman actions against peaceful demonstrators in our homeland. China’s highhandedness in all three provinces of Tibet has left thousands injured and dead since the March unrest.” He further added that though he realized he was the oldest among all the three batches who have participated in the indefinite fast so far, he was of sound health. His main motive was to share the pain of those suffering inside Tibet and he was determined to do just that.

The first batch of hunger strikers who were discharged from hospital a couple of days ago returned to Jantar Mantar yesterday and shared their experiences. They implored fellow Tibetans not to lose hope and said their struggle was worth every sacrifice in the world.

An Indo-Tibet flag flew high at Jantar Mantar with the words “Thank You India” written across it.

(Photo by Tenzin Sangmo/Phayul.com)

On the 61st anniversary of its Independence, TYC paid tribute to India thanking her for her generosity and hospitality. India is home to over 1,20,000 Tibetan refugees and according to TYC, “August 15th is a moment of joy, of happiness for Indians, a nation, a race that for the past 50 years have been providing us asylum, has given us a second life, “a home away from home”. The opportunities both commercial and educational, India has provided to the Tibetans is highly commendable as no nation would treat refugees as its own Citizens. Tibetans are truly grateful for the love and the affection being showered upon them by Indians. Hence, on this special day, the Tibetan Youth Congress would like to thank India wholeheartedly for everything that it has done for the Tibetans.” An Indo-Tibet flag flew high at Jantar Mantar with the words “Thank You India, Happy Independence Day” written across it.
Sunghyun Park, a Tibet supporter from South Korea who studies in Paris and a familiar face among pro-Tibet rallies in New Delhi said, “I was one of the protestors at the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay earlier this year. I think the unjust, repressive policies of China are thoroughly wrong. I totally support the hunger strikers and respect their effort and sacrifices for the Tibetan nation. Personally, I hope they won’t lose their health.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has backed away from a DMCA take-down request to remove a YouTube video of a Tibetan protest at the Chinese consulate in New York.

The video in question (see below) was clearly not an example of copyright infringement. YouTube and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) both pushed back against the IOC, which then withdrew their complaint. As the EFF notes, however, the inaccurate title of the video was “Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony,” so in all likelihood, the IOC was filing DMCA notices for Olympics content, which has been springing up on YouTube faster than they can take it down.

Anthony Falzone, Executive Director of the Fair Use Project, was impressed that YouTube went beyond the call of duty in pushing back at the IOC. With the sheer volume of DMCA requests that YouTube must be fielding with the Olympics, taking the time to double-check the content is certainly impressive. At the same time, however, it highlights how much work YouTube has to do in terms of policing copyrighted content. The number of legal notices they have to respond to consume time and resources that might be put to better use.