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Canada Tibet Committee co-signs letter to Olympic Torch Sponsors

March 19, 2008

Communiqué de presse / Media Advisory
Pour diffusion immédiate / For Immediate Release
Canada Tibet Committee co-signs letter to Olympic Torch Sponsors
(Montreal, Wednesday, 19 March 2008) – The Canada Tibet Committee today joined 152 Tibetan organizations worldwide in signing the following letter to the three corporate sponsors (Lenovo, Samsung and Coca-Cola) of the Olympic Torch relay in advance of the Beijing Games:
We the undersigned, representatives of 153 Tibetan organizations and Tibet Support Groups around the world, are writing to you with great concern about the Olympic Torch Relay’s planned stops in Tibet in the upcoming weeks. In recent days, the international media has been flooded with reports and images of Tibetans, including Buddhist monks, demonstrating against China’s oppression and subsequently being beaten and even killed by Chinese soldiers. As the Chinese government brutally cracks down on protesters in Tibet and expels all independent observers and media personnel from Tibetan areas, it is becoming increasingly evident that carrying the Olympic torch through Tibet and up Mount Everest would exacerbate the crisis in Tibet.

To Tibetans, carrying China’s Olympic Torch into the heart of their land and up one of Tibet’s most holy mountains is a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to use the Olympics to stake their claim more firmly on Tibet. The situation all over Tibet, but especially in Lhasa, is
already at a boiling point, and adding to the tension by bringing the Torch to region will likely provoke more protests and more heavy-handed crackdowns.

The Chinese government’s insistence on using components of the Olympics, such as the torch relay, for political purposes opens their corporate partners up to condemnation from the global public. The irony of China celebrating the opening of the Beijing 2008 Olympics with a performance of traditional Tibetan opera while Tibetans in Lhasa will be mourning their dead and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Tibetans will be languishing in prison for simply raising their voices from freedom, makes it tasteless for [COMPANY]’s name to be associated with the 2008 Games.

I am certain that you do not wish for [COMPANY] to be associated with the brutality and bloodshed in Tibet. As one of only three sponsors of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay, you hold significant influence with the Relay organizers and with the International Olympic Committee.
We therefore call on you to immediately request that the International Olympic Committee withdraw all Tibetan areas – including the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan – from the Olympic Torch Relay. We also encourage you to demonstrate your opposition to the oppressive tactics being used by the Chinese authorities in Tibet by withdrawing your sponsorship of the Torch Relay and publicly calling for the release of all Tibetan political prisoners, for journalists to be allowed access to Tibetan areas, and for the Chinese authorities to immediately stop their violent suppression of Tibetan protesters.

We look forward to your prompt response.

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For more information/ Pour plus d’informations:
Dermod Travis                                                           
Canada Tibet Committee                              

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