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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Beijing: Night Light 'Free Tibet' Banner

August 21, 2008

Free Tibet 2008
August 20, 2008

Beijing -- Five pro-Tibet activists unfurled a banner spelling out
"Free Tibet" in English and Chinese in bright blue LED "throwie"
lights in Beijing's Olympic Park tonight. The five were detained by
security personnel after displaying the banner for about 20 seconds
at 11:48 pm August 19th. Their whereabouts are currently unknown.
Read the press release.

The detained activists are Americans Amy Johnson, 33, Sam Corbin, 24,
Liza Smith, 31, Jacob Blumenfeld, 26, and Lauren Valle, 21. (bios of
activists are below)

"The Chinese government is desperate to turn the world's attention
away from its abuses in Tibet as the Olympics take place, but the
creativity and determination of Tibetans and their supporters has
once again ensured that Tibetan voices are heard and seen in Beijing
despite the massive security clampdown," said Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy
Director of Students for a Free Tibet. "The Chinese leadership must
realize that the only way it can make the issue of Tibet disappear is
to acknowledge the demands of the Tibetan people and work with them
to bring an end to China's occupation of Tibet."

The lights used on the banner are blue 10 mm light-emitting diodes
(LEDs) powered by small batteries, commonly known as "throwies."
Throwies are open-source technology attributed to OpenLab and
Graffiti Research Lab, developed as a means of creating
non-destructive graffiti and light displays. This is the first time
ever that they have been used on a banner. James Powderly, free
speech activist and co-founder of the Graffiti Research Lab (GRL),
was detained in Beijing early this morning.

Bios and photos of the Tibet supporters detained for unfurling the LED banner:

Lauren Valle, 31, was born in Falmouth, MA, and currently lives in
Brooklyn, NY. She studies Eastern Religion and Philosophy at Columbia
University. She has supported various organizations working to build
a more just and sustainable world. She is taking action for Tibet
this summer because she believes that the Olympics represent a unique
and critical opportunity for people of conscience to come together on
a global level and speak out for human rights.

Amy Johnson, 33, was born in Detroit, Michigan where she grew up
until moving to Georgia when she was 13 years old. She attended the
University of Boulder, Colorado and lived there on and off for 15
years. Amy studied Policy and Social Values along with Peace and
Conflict Studies and since then has worked with kids in various
capacities, from teaching and counseling to leading international
service trips abroad.

Amy has recently started her own company. She is also a Metalsmith
who makes politically-oriented jewelry from bullets she has found in
the mountains around Boulder. Amy recently relocated to Los Angeles,
and is pursuing commercial opportunities for her jewelry, in addition
to continuing environmental and social justice efforts.

Jacob Blumenfeld, 26, was born and raised in San Diego, California.
His mother passed away when he was 5 years old and he, along with his
brother and sister, were raised by their father. He went to a Jewish
school and then to Vassar College.

As a teenager and throughout college, Jacob became involved in
numerous social justice projects. After college, he became involved
in efforts for immigrant rights in San Diego, as well as projects
promoting independent media. Jacob now lives in Brooklyn, NY and is
pursuing his PhD in philosophy at the New School for Social Research.
He teaches philosophy and is still active in many social justice
projects in New York, such as the Regeneracion Childcare collective
and Jews Against the Occupation. This is the first nonviolent action
Jacob has taken related to Tibet, but has been aware of the situation in Tibet.

As a Jew whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, Jacob feels an
obligation to support the struggles of all peoples oppressed for
their racial, ethnic or national identities, from Palestine to
Chiapas to Tibet. The movement for a Free Tibet is part of a larger
struggle for freedom from occupation, and hence Jacob considers it
part of his struggle as well.

Liza Smith, 31, was born in Boulder, Colorado and grew up in the
Shambhala community -- with students of Trungpa Rinpoche – and was
raised practicing Tibetan Buddhism. She currently lives in Oakland,
CA where she works for the Fellowship of Reconciliation Colombia
Program. Liza has been active in human rights for Colombia for the
last 10 years. She has organized against US military aid to Colombia,
lead delegations of Americans to Colombia to accompany threatened
human rights leaders, and lived in Colombia.

Liza has benefitted greatly from the teachings of the Tibetan
Buddhist tradition and has taken action in China because she believes
in the global struggle for human rights and that all struggles to
live in peace, whether in the US, Colombia or Tibet, are deeply interconnected.

Samantha Corbin, 24, was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and
currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She has worked as an environmental
and social justice activist and organizer in New York and Washington
DC for many years. Some of the campaigns she has been involved with
include advocating for the right of Appalachian residents who are
fighting the multi-national banks funding mountaintop removal coal mining.

Sam has worked with SFT as a volunteer and organizer and has also
served as a climb trainer at an SFT Free Tibet! Action Camp. Sam
traveled to China this summer to speak out in solidarity with
Tibetans inside Tibet and feels it is her responsibility as a person
who values justice to speak out at this critical time.

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