That’s just how it goes in Tibet these days

March 23rd, 2009 § 1

Rare footage of a protest made it out of Tibet this past weekend. The Tibetans who sent it will likely be caught, and if they are, they will definitely be tortured and imprisoned. That’s just how it goes in Tibet these days.

Click here if the embedded video does not work.

Tibet is under de-facto martial law. The plateau has been virtually sealed off from the outside world, and Chinese troops and security forces are in the streets everywhere. All communication is strictly monitored, and in some places mobile phone service has been shut down completely. » Read the rest of this entry «

Shocking Footage from Tibet

March 20th, 2009 § 5

The Tibetan government-in-exile just released this shocking footage smuggled out from Tibet. It is awful. I sat at my desk and cried while I watched it. The Chinese government doesn’t see Tibetans as human beings. They never have.

WARNING: This video includes extremely graphic footage.

Click here to watch the video.

We’ve heard so many accounts about the terrible violence the authorities have used against Tibetans in the past year, but this is the first video footage that has made it out. It’s very hard to watch, but it is our truth and nothing China does can hide this from the world.

Here’s Students for a Free Tibet’s statement in response to the footage.

China 1/3 closer to truth about Tibet protests

March 3rd, 2009 § 1

China is moving closer to telling the truth about the protests in Tibet over the past few days. As of now, they are only 1/3 of the way there.

Chinese officials now admit that Tape self-immolated in Ngaba on February 27th.

Xinhua:He attempted to set himself alight using inflammables while holding a portrait of the Dalai Lama and a “snow lion flag” in token of “Tibet independence” on a street in the Aba county seat at about 1:38 p.m. Friday.” » Read the rest of this entry «

Protest Before Opening Ceremonies

August 9th, 2008 § 0

Tibetan Flags Protest Beijing 080808 from Students for a Free Tibet on Vimeo.

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.

Free & Safe in Hong Kong

August 8th, 2007 § 61

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.

[youtube iJP7NrSa3lg]

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]

Minorities Park Slideshow

August 4th, 2007 § 9

Yesterday I wrote about my experience visiting the racist theme park outside of Beijing. Today, I’ve posted a slideshow of photos taken during our visit.


I hope these images will help communicate the source of the deep, disturbed feelings I was trying to share with you through my written words. Remember, this is all a fake recreation of a culture that China has been trying to destroy for the last fifty years.

Click the “read more” link to view the photos… » Read the rest of this entry «

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.


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.


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

August 2nd, 2007 § 16

I can’t believe I’m here. It’s surreal and overwhelming. The heat. The throngs of people everywhere. But somehow I feel calm. I’m not sure why… I just do. Every so often I get a fluttering in my stomach – like this morning when I bumped into a police officer just as I was getting off the plane – but otherwise, I’m fine. “Phil” met me at the airport. He’s a good friend and was a welcome sight. Unlike me, he’s been here before and so has been taking the lead with navigating this massive city.

We filmed this video in the taxi on our way into the city. Can you notice my goof? I clearly have a lot to learn about being in a place – for the first time in my life – where you are not allowed to talk about Tibet. But I am thankful that most of the taxi drivers here do not understand English.

[youtube mB3DO0uG2gg]

Our first stop was Tiananmen Square. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by this place. There are so many layers of history and politics and conflict here. Trying to get at the history and meaning of this place is like peeling an onion. I’m a bit surprised it hasn’t simply been renamed “Mao Square.”


Dominating the south end of the square is the mausoleum holding the embalmed corpse of Mao Zedong. And of course to the north, that famous image of Mao hangs on “the Tiananmen” (Gate of Heavenly Peace) from which this square derives its name.

I definitely was not filled with heavenly peace when I saw Mao watching over the square. Looking at his face, all I see is the man who subjected my people to untold suffering. It wasn’t hard not to smile when we took these photos.

Aside from Mao, the other thing you can’t miss in Tiananmen and in Beijing at large is the Olympics hype. There are billboards shouting about “One World One Dream” and stores selling all the usual commemorative items.

Here I am with the Olympic mascots including the cartoon Tibetan antelope they call “Ying Ying” (we know her as “Yingsel the Rangzen Antelope” – check it out:


The plans to summit Mt. Everest with the Olympic torch, the choice of a Tibetan antelope as an official mascot, and the littering of Olympics advertising with images of smiling Tibetans clearly show that the Chinese government hopes  to use the Beijing Olympics to legitimize its rule in Tibet.

We took the below photo in front of the 2008 Olympics countdown clock on the eastern flank of Tiananmen Square. In Dharamsala, our friends have installed their own 2008 Olympics countdown clock. It’s not automatic like the one here, with LED numbers. Instead, every single night, one of them has to change it by hand, so it will be correct the next morning. This ritual reminds them daily how much time is left to prepare for one of the most important opportunities ever handed to the Tibetan freedom struggle.


The Chinese government hopes the glow of the Olympics will blind the international community to the brutality of its occupation of Tibet. They hope the world will accept China as a leader among nations and see it as a country that is free and open. They hope the world will forget about 6 million Tibetans who continue to suffer under Chinese rule. We cannot let this happen. We must speak out and fight back. We must challenge them at every turn… and that’s why I’m here.

Let’s see how open this place really is.

That’s not fog…

August 1st, 2007 § 2

it’s the air in Beijing… that I have to breathe… and that the Olympics athletes will have to suck into their lungs as they run, jump, bike, and do other activities that usually require clean, fresh air. Yikes!

See more photos and get the full story from The Atlantic

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