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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

In-flight Film Will Urge Olympians to Protest

May 25, 2008 (Australia)
May 24, 2008

* Protest film to be shown by Qantas
* It will be on flights with Beijing-bound Olympians
* Olympic officals say protests banned

A NEW film in which the great Australian sprinter Peter Norman implores the current generation of Olympians to protest against human rights violations will be screened on all Qantas flights carrying team members to Beijing.

The film Salute documents the so-called Black Power Protest during the medal ceremony for the men's 200m at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games.

In the aftermath of the global Olympic torch relay, which was beset with protests over China's oppression of indigenous people in occupied Tibet, the film and Norman's sentiments could light the fuse for a new Games protest 40 years on.

Paramount have bought Salute for worldwide distribution and Qantas picked up the rights to screen it on all flights from July 24.

The film has been five years in the making but tragically in 2006 Norman died of a heart attack, never having seen the finished product directed and produced by his nephew Matt Norman.

In 2005, Norman showed he was still an activist with a strong social conscience when he told The Daily Telegraph: "Today there is a whole new generation but someone still has to stand up and make a statement on behalf of the down-trodden.

"Once you've earned the right to stand on that podium you've got that square metre of the world that belongs to you. What you do with it is up to you - within limits.

"I'm not sure a rehashing of what happened in 1968 would have the same impact.

"And if a Chinese gold medallist made a civil rights protest the risk to them would probably be far greater (than it was in 1968 to Tommie Smith and John Carlos) because they're doing it on home turf.

"We're not advocating a repeat of '68 but people should be aware of the civil rights situation in China. It's a wonderful opportunity to do something of a positive nature."

Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred said despite an International Olympic Committee rule prohibiting any form of protest at the Games, Australian team guidelines had been redrafted to permit freedom of expression.

"The team will be able to express a point of view on human rights, Tibet and any other issue in media interviews and, for the first time ever, in blogs," he said.

"However, they won't be allowed to stage demonstrations of political, racial or religious origin - certainly not in venues - and that would include wearing a Free Tibet T-shirt."

Norman set an Australian record - which still stands - in winning the silver medal, splitting two giants of American athletics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

As the American national anthem played for the winner Smith and Carlos stood in their long black socks, heads bowed, each with one arm raised with a fist gloved in black leather.

Norman, who empathised with the protest movement of the period, wore a Project For Human Rights button to show his solidarity during the medals ceremony.

Salute will premiere on June 8 at the State Theatre during the Sydney Film Festival and will open nationally from July 24.
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