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Students for a Free Tibet: Our Nation Episode 4



Zhu Weiqun, Vice-Minister of the United Front Work Department, received a noisy reception during his visit to London, Students for a Free Tibet said. Tibetans and supporters chanted slogans against Zhu and Chinese government at Chatham house at St. James square where Zhu took part in a ’round-table’ discussion on the recent failure of the eighth round of talks.

A Chinese FedEx employee briefly disrupted the protest as he stormed towards the Tibetan protesters in an attempt to provoke the Tibetans into confrontation. He snatched a Tibetan national flag from a Tibetan protester and snapped the flagpole. The Chinese man was warned by the police for his provocative behavior.

Padma Dolma, a Tibetan student, threw herself in front of the Chinese diplomat’s entourage carrying a Tibetan national flag. Four other Tibetans splashed tomato sauce onto the windows of the car in which Zhu was traveling.

A protester splashes tomato sauce on a van carrying Chinese officials in a symbolic representation of bloody killings in Tibet.

The protesters banged the glasses and yelled, “Zhu Weiqun, liar, liar.” Pema Yoko, who took part in the skirmish, said the Tibetans will not stand down to the Chinese government. “We showed the London public that the Chinese government is responsible for the bloodshed and death of hundreds of Tibetans in a brutal crackdown after the protest in Tibet in March this year.”
Zhu Weiqun in the firs ever press conference by China after talks with Tibetan envoys accused the Dalai Lama as being responsible to for the failure to make any progress.

Zhu Weiqun was among the Chinese representatives who met with the Tibetan delegation during the two-day talks in Beijing last week. The Executive vice minister of China’s Central United Front, the Chinese government department in charge of talks with representatives of Dalai Lama, said Monday that no progress was made at recent talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama and accused the exiled leader of trying to split Tibet from China.

“The sovereignty is the most fundamental issue. The Dalai has — by denying Chinese sovereignty over Tibet — been trying to seek a legal basis for his claims of independence or semi-independence over Tibet,” Zhu said at the press conference on Nov 10.

Tibet supporters also condemned the Chinese government’s latest wave of hard-line rhetoric. “To spuriously blame the Tibetan side for the collapse of talks was patently false, but to accuse the Dalai Lama of plotting ‘apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Tibet is both ludicrous and deeply offensive to all Tibetans,” said Terry Bettger, Campaigns Coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet UK. “Rhetoric like this only serves to embarrass Chinese diplomacy on the world stage, and exposes the absolute lack of sincerity the Chinese government have shown to talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys.”

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.

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.

BEIJING: Activists wrapped themselves in Tibetan flags on Saturday and lay down in Tiananmen Square in a protest that was angrily rejected by Chinese onlookers who followed the group and shouted “Get out!” The demonstration by five members of Students for a Free Tibet was a breach of heavy security in the heart of Beijing on the first full day of competition in the Olympic Games.

The protesters, three American, a Canadian and a German, “were calling for an end to the Chinese government’s occupation in Tibet,” according to Lhadon Tethong, executive director of the New York-based group. They clasped each others’ hands and walked around the square, chanting “Freedom for Tibet,” and “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet” , a play off a Beijing Olympics motto, according to a video footage.

While their protest was initially regarded with curiosity by onlookers, a group of young Chinese men suddenly started shouting “Get out! Get out!” and began aggressively surrounding the foreigners, the footage showed. Some wore red and yellow headbands, China’s national colors.

They eventually were separated from the protesters by men who appeared to be plainclothes security agents and were led away, said John Hocevar, a member of Students for a Free Tibet who was videotaping the protest. He said he did not know where they were taken. Officials at the Beijing Public Security Bureau and Tiananmen Square police station would not comment.

The action came a day after three Americans from the group were detained while displaying Tibetan flags near the entrance to National Stadium, which hosted the opening ceremony for the games Friday night. They were deported Saturday on flights to New York, the group said. On Wednesday, four other members hung pro-Tibet banners from two light poles outside the stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest. They were led away by police and later deported to Europe and the United States.

“The Chinese government is seeking to cover up its ugly occupation of Tibet with the bright lights of the Olympics,” Matt Whitticase, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement on Saturday. Also on Saturday, security officers in Hong Kong removed a university student who tried to display the Tibetan flag during the Olympics equestrian competition.

Seated in the front row, the student, Christina Chan, displayed a placard bearing the Canadian flag. When she tried to peel away the Canadian flag to reveal a Tibetan flag beneath it, security officers covered her with a blue cloth and asked her to leave. They carried her out of the venue after she refused.

Pro-Tibet activists around the world have staged demonstrations in the run-up to the Summer Games, claiming China is using the sporting event to legitimize its rule in Tibet. Tibet has been an extremely sensitive topic since protests against almost 50 years of Chinese rule turned violent in the region’s capital of Lhasa in March. Many Tibetans insist they were an independent nation before Communist troops invaded in 1950, while Beijing says the Himalayan region has been part of its territory for centuries.

Dharamsala, July 22: A group of Tibetan non-governmental organisations based in Dharamsala today announced to spearhead a new round of “Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement” campaigns to take Tibetan freedom struggle to a new height as Beijing prepares to showcase 2008 Olympics as China’s “Coming out party”.

The committee members of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement (TPUM) said they would organise “numerous actions” in Dharamsala, administrative centre of Tibetan exiles in India, and other international venues like UN and IOC Offices in Geneva and New York, European Union in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The group said the actions would be organised in a more vigorous manner both during and after the Beijing Olympics, but declined to give more specific details.

“We have Tibetans and supporters all over the world who will actively take part in our campaign activities” Dr. B. Tsering, president of Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA), said at a press conference here today. “Accordingly we will arrange and organise effective campaigns at relevant places,” she added.

The group, in their press statement, said they believed in the “fierce urgency of now” to exploit various channels and means to convey the demands and the aspirations of the Tibetan people and raise Tibet issue at strategic international levels by putting pressure on relevant international bodies.

Describing 2008 as a “critical point” for Tibetan freedom struggle, the committee members of the TPUM today emphasised on the need of “more consolidated campaigns” and urged fellow Tibetans and supporters worldwide to show “even greater unity” for Tibet’s cause.

Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement (TPUM) was formally launched on January 4, initially by Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet, National Democratic Party of Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet, India. The group described its formation as a “global movement of Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet taking control of our political destiny by engaging in direct action to end China’s illegal and brutal occupation of our country”.

Tibetan Youth Congress later withdrew from the group to carry out its own set of actions under the campaign banner “Tibetan People’s Mass Movement”.

“We are today at the crossroad of historic moment in the Tibetan People’s struggle for freedom, truth and justice,” B. Tsering, said reading out reading out TPUM’s press statement.

“We will also support Tibetan Youth Congress in their campaigns, if need be,” B. Tsering said, reacting to a media question. “They have our solidarity since what we are doing is for the Tibetan people’s cause,” she added.

“Our unity in action and focus in purpose during the following months will not only define the long and strategic preparations that we have made for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but more importantly to realise the true political aspirations of our brothers and sisters who made great sacrifices,” she noted referring to enduring resistance shown by Tibetans inside Tibet against China’s rule.

She said the “ongoing popular uprisings in Tibet which began on March 10 in Lhasa and the spontaneous spread to all part of Tibet” had effectively demonstrated Tibetan people’s “deep-rooted resentments against the Chinese colonial policies, and also the united face of the Tibetan people as a cohesive force in resisting Chinese communist regime”.

Protests in Tibet against Chinese rule erupted in March, and China was condemned internationally for its ensuing security crackdown that Tibetan exiles said left more than 200 people dead and hundreds more either injured or arrested.

“The uprising in Tibet further endorsed the non-violent fabric of the Tibetan struggle and brought to the forefront the appalling human rights situation inside Tibet at a time when China prepares itself for international spotlight,” Tsering said.

Among other demands TPUM calls on China “To remove all obstacles to the unconditional return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and his rightful place as leader of the Tibetan people, and “Begin dismantling the colonial occupation of Tibet” and release of all political prisoners in Tibet.

“Furthermore, TPUM will launch an all out-struggle on a war-front scale against draconian designs of spearheading a second cultural revolution in Tibet after the Olympics as declared by Zhang Qingli, the communist party Secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region,” Tsering said.

According to Gu-Chu-Sum president Ven. Ngawang Woebar, as a result of China’s military crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators after widespread protests since March and violent repressions taking place in Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, a cultural revolution-like tragedy is already taking place inside Tibet.

[From Students for a Free Tibet]

The Chinese authorities appear to have U-turned on plans to allow foreigners back into Tibet next month amid fears that protesters could disrupt the Olympic flame’s trip to the summit of Everest.

Their decision comes in the wake of demonstrations which have dogged the torch relay on its passage through London, Paris and San Francisco and look set to continue in other cities.

The flame’s trip to the top of the world’s highest mountain has been described by the Chinese organisers as one of the highlights of its tour – and by Tibetan support groups overseas as its most contentious stop. They argue that it symbolises China’s control of the region.

Tibet’s tourism authority announced last week that the region would reopen to foreign holidaymakers on May 1, having been closed to non-Chinese travellers since riots broke out in Lhasa in mid-March.

But today travel agents said the bureau had ordered them to stop arranging such trips, citing the need to secure safe passage for the Olympic torch relay to Everest in early May.

While the main flame continues its journey around the world, another flame was taken from the lighting ceremony in Beijing to Tibet because experts predicted the best conditions for an ascent would be next month.

Officials had closed the north face of Everest before last month’s riots began – citing environmental concerns – and persuaded Nepal to block access. Many believe they fear a repeat of last year’s protest by five US mountaineers, who unfurled banners calling for Tibetan independence.

An employee at the Tibet China Youth Travel Service, based in Lhasa, told the Associated Press news agency: “We received the emergency notice from the tourism bureau that, considering the safety of the torch which will go
to Mount Everest in May, agencies are not allowed to receive tourist groups and foreign tourists.”

He added that the government’s decision would hurt Tibet’s burgeoning tourism industry, but that he expected trips to resume after the torch relay to Everest.

An employee of the Tibetan Tourism Bureau confirmed that changes have been made to the original decision to reopen the region.

Yesterday, Tibet’s governor, Qiangba Puncog told a press conference: “For these separatist forces, the Olympics in Beijing will be a rare opportunity.

“I don’t doubt they will create trouble during the torch relay in Tibet,” he said.

The main torch will also pass through Tibet in June, on its way back to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the games.

The People’s Armed Police (PAP) newspaper reported today that commanders have ordered the force to ensure “internal security and stability” for the Olympics as well as tackle terrorist threats.

The PAP has led the crackdown on riots in Lhasa and protests in other parts of China with large Tibetan populations.

Commanders called the security tasks highly “political and sensitive”, and stressed that Chinese President Hu Jintao had made security concerns a top priority for a successful Olympics.

The paper last week issued a “political mobilisation order” to PAP troops telling them to prepare for an arduous time ensuring order and control before and during the games.

Journalists have been prevented from entering areas where unrest has taken place – except for a handful allowed on to strictly limited state-organised tours – despite a special law allowing them to travel outside Beijing without notifying the authorities in the run up to the Olympics.

But Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said this morning he had pressed Beijing to fully implement the new regulations.

Speaking after a meeting with the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, Rogge said: “We know the implementation of this [media] law is not perfect, there are shortcomings. I have asked the authorities to implement the media law in full … and I have insisted this must be done as soon as possible.”

Separate restrictions still apply to reporting in Tibet.

From an email I received:

Nearly three weeks have passed since Tibetan monks from Drepung Monastery carried out peaceful protests demanding their freedom. Their action spread to Sera Monastery and then to the streets of Lhasa and into the hearts of Tibetans across Tibet and around the world, igniting a nationwide uprising.

Despite massive military presence, widespread incarceration, torture, and an ongoing media blackout, Tibetans continue to rise up.

On Thursday, a group of monks disrupted a tightly controlled Chinese government media tour of Lhasa – the only foreign media allowed into Tibet since the national uprising started on March 10th. As dozens of journalists and their government handlers toured the Jokhang temple, thirty monks burst out of a room to tell the journalists that “Tibet is not free” and not to believe China’s lies.

At great risk to their personal safety, these incredibly brave monks have sent yet another message of freedom to the world.

Help SFT continue its support of Tibetans inside Tibet.
To Donate go to:

Tibetans are rising up like never before against Chinese rule. After suffering for half a century and in this Olympic year, with all eyes on China, Tibetans are risking everything for their freedom. This is the uprising of a people against their oppressor, and the only possible outcome is freedom. But Tibetans inside Tibet still need our support more than ever before.

SFT has had its work cut out for it over the past weeks: the lighting of the Tibetan Freedom Torch; our recent protests in Olympia Greece; thousands of emails, faxes and letters targeting decision makers around the world to remove Tibet from the torch relay route; working around the clock to ensure the international media tells the true story of what is happening inside Tibet. And we’re just getting started. SFT will continue to be at the forefront of international efforts to ensure that Tibetans’ call for freedom is amplified around the world in the lead up to and during the Beijing Olympics.

Donate now. Help SFT make history for Tibet in 2008.

On Monday, March 31st, as the Olympic torch relay arrives in Beijing with much celebration and fanfare, Tibetans and supporters around the world will take part in a Global Day of Action for Tibet. Click here to find a protest or vigil near you. If you are organizing an event on this day, please let us know by email:

On the day of action, Avaaz – the global organization that has collected an unprecedented 1.2 million signatures in support of Tibet – will be delivering this historic petition to Chinese embassies and consulates around the world. Help reach the goal of 2 million signatures before Monday! Sign the Avaaz petition – Stand With Tibet.

For up-to-date information on the situation inside Tibet, please continue to monitor SFT’s website  and blogs.

Thank you so much for your continued support of SFT and Tibetans around the world.

Tibet will be free.

Kalaya’an Mendoza
Grassroots Coordinator
Students for a Free Tibet