Exposing the truth behind China’s occupation of Tibet
China has brutally occupied my homeland for over 50 years but my people continue their courageous resistance. Follow this blog, as I share what I see, feel, and experience... leaving Beijing wide open.
By protesting the video put out by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile that shows Tibetans being beaten and tortured in Tibet last year, and then blocking YouTube to make sure that nobody in China’s borders sees the footage, the Chinese government made international headlines and ensured that millions more people will see and hear about the footage.
This is the beauty of a lying, paranoid force like that of our friends in Beijing – they just can’t help themselves. It’s like my friend said to me the other day: “They’ve already lost, it’s just a matter of time.”
I got a call early this afternoon from a Tibetan with an eyewitness account of another protest at a monastery in Amdo, Ngaba (Aba). This monastery is just a few kilometers away from Kirti monastery where the other protest took place on the 27th. It took all day to piece the following story together:
This morning hundreds of monks at Sey monastery managed to gain entry into the monastery’s main prayer hall by saying that they had to get their belongings from inside. Once inside they sat down and began theMonlam Chenmo (New Year prayer ceremony) even though the monasteries have been ordered not to hold any religious gatherings in the month of March. They are not even supposed to open up the prayer halls. » Read the rest of this entry «
On February 25th, the first day of the Tibetan New Year, around 100 monks in Mangra (eastern Tibet) held a candlelight vigil and protest march from Lutsang monastery to the local town center.
Following this daring protest, the monastery was surrounded by People’s Armed Police and reports now indicate at least 3 of the monks have been detained.
Despite overwhelming repression and a heavy Chinese military presence in Tibet, Tibetans continue to resist Chinese rule. The ‘No Losar’ movementis one of the most creative civil disobedience campaigns ever seen in Tibet. Despite the Chinese authorities’ best attempts to stop them, Tibetans right across the plateau canceled traditional Tibetan New Year celebrations and turned this normally festive time into a somber time of mourning for those killed and imprisoned since last year’s protests.
This afternoon eight SFTers, including Pema Yoko a national coordinator of SFT UK, conducted a dramatic multi-part nonviolent direct action at the entrance to the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park. A group of protesters locked down at the entrance of the park by chaining bicycles together and holding a banner that said “Tibetans are dying for freedom.” Two others went to a foot bridge and held a banner reading “Free Tibet.”
Chinese security came out in force and there’s been a fair amount of coverage of them swarming over our activists and taking down the banners. I have to say, I got a big kick out of the sight of a Chinese police raising a Tibetan flag on TV.
Police swung him on to a couch and pinned him down by sitting on his arms. When they relaxed, he tried to get away but was tripped up. He was then bundled into a police van and asked him what his views on Tibet were.
No matter how many times the IOC and BOCOG promised that the Chinese authorities would grant Olympic journalists freedom and access, you always knew that something like this was possible and the intensity of the Chinese police aggression belies every single word uttered by Jacques Rogge in the years leading up to the Games.
The Chinese government has not been changed one iota by the Olympics. Yet everywhere you look, you can see how the Beijing government has brought their style of brutal occupation and militaristic policing to the Olympics. Watching the Chinese police beat and harass activists and journalists today with the whole world as their guests in Beijing makes me truly fearful for what they will do and are now doing in Tibet, behind closed doors and with no foreign journalists there to watch.
Please watch this video. Five free Tibet activists staged a dramatic die-in today in Tiananmen Square, in the shadow of Chairman Mao’s famous portrait. Tiananmen Square was, of course, made infamous in 1989 when the Chinese government unleashed a massacre against pro-democracy demonstrators. I’m proud that these five protesters brought a message of Tibetan freedom to this important place in Chinese history. Just as China wants to use the Olympics to make the world forget June 4, 1989, it too wants the world to forget about its ongoing crackdown in Tibet. Today’s protest will help ensure that Tibet’s voice is not silenced.
The five protesters were Chris Schwartz, 24, of Montreal, Canada; Diane Gatterdam, 55, Evan Silverman, 31, and Joan Roney, 39, all from New York; and David Demes, 21, of Germany.
I hope these activists’ protest will inspire others around the world to speak out against China’s occupation of Tibet. I hope the action team is safe and doing well. Your actions prove yet again that we will not be silenced.
Last night, just before the start of the opening ceremonies, three SFT activists — Jonathan Stribling-Uss, 27, and Kalaya’an Mendoza, 29, Americans, and Cesar Pablo Maxit, 32, an Argentine-American — were immediately and forcibly detained after unfurling Tibetan flags. We’ve just found out that all three were deported from China earlier today and are on a flight back to New York.
Tibetans have never backed down from their desire for independence in five decades of brutal Chinese occupation. And SFT and our global activists will keep speaking out during these Olympic Games. China thinks they can hold the world’s focus on sport and Beijing’s bright lights, but we’re proving that they can’t keep focus off of Tibet.
As you’ve seen here, the Chinese authorities finally detained Paul and me yesterday afternoon. I guess they couldn’t bear the idea of us running around Tiananmen Square during their one-year countdown bash. Well, what happened next confirms my suspicion that China has been feeling the heat in a big way. They reunited us with our friends, the “Great Wall Six,” (ha ha!) and flew us all to Hong Kong, where we were met at the airport by friendly faces and TV cameras. We’re here. We’re safe. We’re proud. We’re really, really tired. More soon.
Update: I’ve posted a short video below, recorded just after our arrival in Hong Kong, that shares some of my quick thoughts on our detention, the reality of “openness” in China, and my hope for the impact of our efforts… much, much more to come.