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Tibet activists hang banner, blockade Beijing's 'Chinese ethnic culture park'

August 15, 2008

Tibetan Woman Detained Along with Seven Others
August 13, 2008

Beijing, August 13 -- Five Tibet activists blockaded the front
entrance of the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, at the south end of the
Olympic Park, at 12:30pm today. The five were behind locked bicycles
across the entrance to the park, which prominently features an
exhibit of Tibetan culture. They wore t-shirts reading "Free Tibet"
and held a banner reading "Tibetans Are Dying for Freedom." A sixth
activist, a Tibetan-Japanese woman, made a statement about what they
were doing and the situation on the ground in Tibet. Nearby, two
other activists unfurled a banner over a pedestrian bridge, which
read "Free Tibet."

The two activists at the bridge were immediately detained by security
officials. The six outside the park were detained after approximately
five minutes. The activists are: Pema Yoko, 25, a Tibetan-Japanese
woman resident in the UK; Americans Tom Cohen, 41; Martin Thomas, 36;
Jennifer Kirby, 30; Jene DeSpain, 31; James Brady, 41; Bani
Campozano, 20; and Jonathan Fox, 29, an Israeli-American. Their
present whereabouts are unknown.

Construction for the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park began in 1992 when
Beijing bid for the 2000 Olympics. A key priority for the Chinese
government in its Olympics propaganda has been to portray a picture
of harmony between Han Chinese and Tibetans, as well as Chinese
minority groups. The Culture Park is a tool in the Chinese
government's attempt to convince Chinese citizens as well as the rest
of the world of the legitimacy of its rule in Tibet.

"The Chinese government is actively waging an Olympics propaganda
campaign to showcase Tibet as legitimately theirs and Tibetans as
happy under Chinese rule, but the reality is much different," said
Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet.
"While Tibetan song and dance is on display in Beijing, in Tibet, our
culture is under siege and our people are being forcibly kept from
speaking out about their repression at the hands of the Chinese authorities."

As part of this crackdown, there has been a dramatic increase of
troops in sensitive areas in eastern Tibet. Two Tibetan women were
shot last Saturday, August 9th, in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (Chinese:
Aba, Sichuan). One was injured in the hand and one in the leg; they
are currently in the Ngaba County Civil Hospital. Since August 3rd,
troops have increased from 2,000 in the town and surrounding area to
10,000 in the town alone. On March 16th, Chinese paramilitary troops
fired into a crowd of peaceful protesting Tibetans in Ngaba, killing
up to 13 according to eyewitnesses.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is a network of young people and
activists campaigning for Tibetan independence, with 700 chapters in
more than thirty countries worldwide. SFT's international
headquarters are in New York, with offices in Toronto, London, and
Dharamsala, India.

In Asia, Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director,  and
Kate Woznow, Campaigns Director,
1 917-289-0228 or +44 2070-846-359
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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