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Tibetan Freedom Torch in Philadelphia

June 20, 2008

US-Tibet Committee (USTC)
June 18, 2008

[Philadelphia, PA] - On May 21, 2008 US-Tibet Committee (USTC),
Tibetan Association of Philadelphia and Tibet supporters held the
Philadelphia leg of the Tibetan Freedom Torch Relay.  The Tibetan
Freedom Torch Relay is a parallel torch relay to the Olympic Torch
relay.  While Tibet is excluded from the 2008 Beijing Olympics,
Tibetans and Tibet supporters have organized their own relay to bring
awareness to the public of Tibet's struggle for freedom and justice.

The Tibetan Freedom Torch lighting ceremony began at noon outside
Philadelphia's City Hall.  It was then escorted by large group of
people waving Tibetan national flags to Independence Mall, which is
the site where the American colonies declared their independence from
the British Empire in 1776.

At Independence Mall, a prayer ceremony for those who had died in the
Sichuan-Tibet earthquake was held.  Several speakers then talked
about the recent protests in Tibet and the harsh reprisals by the
Chinese Government.  The Olympic Games are supposed to stand for
peace and harmony but the host of 2008 Olympics, China, is brutally
stamping out religious and political freedom in Tibet.  Four months
after the Tibetan protests began, Tibet remains sealed off from
foreign journalists and tourists and Tibetan monks and nuns are being
forced to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  China has failed to
live up to its own promises of improving human rights in the run up
to the Olympics and is in violation of numerous international human
rights laws.

Among the speakers at the rally outside Independence Hall were Jeff
Granett, MD (USTC), Tsering Jurme, Tsering Wangdi (Tibetan
Association of Philadelphia), Kalaya'an Mendoza (Students for a Free
Tibet), Wangchuk Shakabpa (USTC), Floyd Platton (Tibetan Buddhist
Center), and Ven. Lobsang Samten (Tibetan Buddhist Center).  Special
guest speaker Tenzin Sangpo, a former political prisoner, also gave a
stirring and emotional speech about the need to pressure China to end
human rights abuses in Tibet.

A group of Tibetans from New York City had also driven down that day
to attend the relay in Philadelphia.

Pictures from the Philadelphia Tibetan Freedom Torch Relay can be
viewed at

The Tibetan Freedom Torch was launched in Greece on March 10, 2008
despite China's security presence. It has been traveling around the
world since then. This Torch symbolizes the hopes and aspirations of
the Tibetan people for freedom and justice and the commitment of the
people around the world to helping achieve this dream. The Olympic
torch should embody the ideals of peace and harmony for all, but this
year, China's government is trying to use the Olympic torch relay to
cover up its brutal occupation of Tibet and abysmal human rights
record. The Tibetan Freedom Torch relay gives voice to the true
ideals of Tibetans and reminds the global public of the need for
action to bring an end to China's illegal occupation of Tibet. The
Tibetan Freedom Torch will travel to more than 50 cities between
March 10th and August 7th, when Tibetans plan to carry the torch to
Tibet. The relay will finish on August 8th, the day the Olympics
begin in Beijing. For further information about this Torch, visit
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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