For Immediate Release
THOUSANDS DEMAND “NO TORCH IN TIBET” IN GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION
[Montreal, Monday, 31 March 2008] – Protests, vigils, and marches took place in over 80 cities and 27 countries around the globe today, stepping up demands for the Olympic Torch not to be carried through Tibet on its five-month relay. The events were timed to coincide with the arrival of the Olympic Torch for the first time in Beijing. In Tibet, food and water supplies have reportedly been cut off at the three major monasteries around Lhasa. One hundred and forty Tibetans have died and more than a thousand Tibetans have been detained since the uprising began with peaceful protests on 10 March.
In Canada, Tibetans and supporters held events in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, London, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria to mark the Global Day of Action.
“Carrying the Olympic Torch through Tibet would be a callous provocation to Tibetans who have already risked their lives in recent days to show the world that China’s policies in Tibet cannot be borne,” saidDermod Travis, the Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee. “The events of the last few weeks prove that China’s attempts to assimilate Tibetan hearts and minds have failed, and the Tibetan spirit remains unbroken.”
The protestors were joined by members of Avaaz.org, a global online advocacy organization that has collected 1.4 million signatures over the last 10 days from around the world on a petition which calls for dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama. This is believed to be one of the largest and fastest-growing global online petitions in history.
The crackdown on protests in greater Tibet (including Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan) has taken an even more chilling tone in recent days, with reports of several hundred Tibetans being removed from Lhasa by train to an unknown destination, and “truckloads” of Tibetans being rounded up and detained through house to house searches. Those detained include former political prisoners and Tibetans who have studied in India.
“It is unfathomable that the International Olympic Committee and Torch Relay sponsors would allow China to take the torch through Tibet when the entire region is on military lockdown and tactics not seen since the Cultural Revolution are being used to suppress the population,” said Travis. “We would like to see the Olympic ideals remain intact through Beijing 2008, but the current course of the IOC seems set to make these Olympics go down in history as an endorsement of brutality and oppression.”
The IOC’s Coordination Commission for the 2008 Olympics is in Beijing until April 3rd. More than one hundred and fifty Tibet support organizations called on IOC President Jacques Rogge in a letter two weeks ago to cancel the planned visits of the Olympic torch to all Tibetan areas. The organizations, part of the International Tibet Support Network (see below) have also sent letters to the Torch Relay sponsors – Coca Cola, Lenovo, and Samsung – calling on them to withdraw their sponsorship unless Tibet is dropped from the route, and will now be appealing to National Olympic Committees to support their demands.
Notes to Editors:
1. Details of the signatories of the global petition are available from Avaaz on +1 866 394 2338 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
2. National Olympic Committees of the world will be meeting in Beijing from 7 – 9 April as part of the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
3.The Canada Tibet Committee is part of the International Tibet Support Network, a global coalition of Tibet related non-governmental organizations, which works to maximise the effectiveness of the worldwide Tibet movement. ITSN Member organizations hold varied positions on Tibet's future political status, but all regard Tibet as an occupied country and are dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet, and to working actively to restore the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their own political, economic, social, religious, and cultural status.
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For more information:
Executive Director, Canada Tibet Committee