Trying to meet the IOC President

August 6th, 2007 § 14

We just got back from Tiananmen Square where there is a massive stage being built for the one-year countdown on the 8th. Senior IOC officials have invited over 200 National Olympic Committees to Beijing to attend this event which will start at 7pm and be attended by 10,000 people.

While in the Square I called Robert Roxborough, the IOC Communications Coordinator, to ask for a meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge. Roxborough had just arrived in Beijing and said that he hadn’t had a chance to figure out the schedule yet. I explained that I had written an open letter to IOC President Jacque Rogge and wanted to meet with Rogge to discuss how China is using the Olympics to legitimize their rule in Tibet.

Roxborough took my name and numbers and said that he’d call me back.
So now I am waiting. And if you read this Robert – I trust that you will call me back soon.

[youtube 8BIrj726RvE]

Video from the Lama Temple

August 5th, 2007 § 19

My previous post covered my visit to the Lama Temple. I’ve now got a video posted, so you can experience this “museum” more fully yourself.

[youtube zEAtcRoEPRw]

You can see this in the middle of this video, but here’s a transcript of what I overheard the tour guide say about the Dalai Lama, and my question to him.

Tour Guide (to group of foreign tourists):
“They are all Buddhas, so they will never die. When their body dies, we will be left another young boy who will be the next Dalai lama. After this Dalia Lama dies, we will have another Dalai Lama. The present Dalai Lama, he is living in India Because in 1950 when this Dalai Lama was young, 30, he wanted to separate Tibet out of China and this kind of behavior makes the official government quite angry. Then he escaped out of Tibet.

Now Dalai Lama is getting old. So of course he is thinking about his next life, the next Dalai Lama. He wants to select his next one. Of course he cannot select where he will live. He knows when he passes, maybe without the permission of central government of China, maybe he cannot get re-life… so this is his problem so he is getting much closer relationship now with Central Government”

Me (Lhadon): so is it that the Dalai Lama needs permission from the central government to be reborn?

Tour Guide: Yes, yes.

Me (Lhadon): But isn’t the Communist party atheist. There is no religion right?

Tour Guide: Its not a problem with religion. Dalai Lama still has lots of followers that want separate for Tibet. But Dalai Lama himself and Tibetan people want Dalai Lama to be back because he is from Tibet.

Bird’s Nest Video

August 4th, 2007 § 0

Here’s a short video I shot at the Bird’s Nest which I’ve just been able to upload now. Not sure if it will translate, but the scale of the construction is immense.

[youtube LAGha-DTgzE]

Please read my earlier post on my visit to this future site of the 2008 Olympics.

Day 3 – Being Followed

August 4th, 2007 § 8

Strange calls, people following and watching us… is this how it feels to live under oppression?

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Outside the window, you can see our “tail” in two cars. They have been following us all day, without trying to hide the fact that they were watching us.

Day Two – The Railway

August 3rd, 2007 § 10

This morning we went to Beijing West Railway Station, the departure point for trains to Tibet. This mostly express service started last July. Even though I knew we weren’t going to make the trip to Tibet, just being there at the station was exciting. We had our bags with us and I imagined us just jumping on the train and being whisked away to that beautiful land that I’ve never seen with my own eyes.

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The station is massive and teeming with people. I searched the crowds for Tibetan faces and saw only a few that might have been. Nobody obvious, that’s for sure.

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A very sweet young Chinese man in the ticket line in front of us asked me if I was Chinese. When I said no, he told me we can’t buy tickets there; he showed me a small red pass book and explained only people with this book can purchase tickets there. But we decided to stay in the line to talk to an agent anyway.

What we learned at the counter is that there are trains to Lhasa leaving daily at 9:30pm but they’re all booked up until Monday. And even then, we would have to get a visa to go there. Strangely, she told me that since I was Canadian, I would have to go to the Canadian embassy to get the forms. We later saw an English message scrolling on a massive electronic signboard that said foreigners wanting to go to Tibet Autonomous Region had to seek permission from any number of Chinese government offices.

Watch the video below to hear my account of this:

[youtube JsKSKgaUCHM]

It’s clear that Tibet is a restricted area for foreigners. For a supposed “inalienable” part of China it sure gets special treatment. The hoops foreigners have to jump through to gain access to Tibet mean the authorities can strictly control all who enter…except of course, Chinese who go in droves.

According to Chinese media reports the railway to Tibet took 1.5 million passengers into Tibet and over “650,000 tons of goods in or out of Tibet” just last year. While we can’t rely on Chinese government numbers – especially on issues they are sensitive about – two important questions arise:

First, how many of these “passengers” were tourists, and how many were Chinese settlers paying for a one-way steerage seat to seek their fortunes in Tibet? A Tibetan interviewed recently on Radio Free Asia said that many were staying and making the already terrible socio-economic situation for Tibetans even worse with prices in and around Lhasa doubling and increasing competition for scarce jobs. (Read excerpt of this interview)

Second, what was taken out of Tibet? The Chinese government announced recently that it has “discovered” 16 significant mineral deposits all along the rail line. Really, with the help of Canadian and other foreign mining companies the Chinese have been quietly prospecting along the route for a long time and now, as we said would happen, resources and profits will be leaving Tibet with little or no benefit to Tibetans. Instead, Tibetans will be left with scarred and polluted lands. (Read more on mining in Tibet)

There is no doubt that China is colonizing Tibet by encouraging this influx of Chinese settlers and exploiting Tibet’s natural resources. Both are supported by the railway to Tibet, which begins in the station I was in today.

What is left to say? It has to stop.

Day One – Good Night and Good Luck

August 3rd, 2007 § 10

Some reflections at the end of our first day here in Beijing. Lots of emotion and adrenaline mixed with a good dose of exhaustion and paranoia.

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Thank you for all the supportive comments and well-wishes. I wish I could respond to each you, but I have to be careful about how and when I access this blog.

More to come, so stay tuned and spread the word…

Yingsel Press Event

August 1st, 2007 § 3

Students for a Free Tibet Press Conference on Yingsel, the Rangzen Antelope.

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If you’d like to follow the continuing story of Yingsel, check out her blog at http://yingsel2008.org

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