Today, March 24th, China lit its 2008 Olympic Torch at Ancient Olympia in Greece, marking the first day of Beijing's "Journey of Harmony." Meanwhile, for Tibetans inside Tibet, the situation is far from harmonious as they continue to resist the Chinese government's brutal military crackdown.
Chinese authorities are hoping that the torch relay kickoff will divert the world's attention from its repression in Tibet. But they're wrong. The chorus calling for an end to the repression is growing.
And people everywhere are demanding immediate removal of Tibet from the Olympic torch relay.
If the IOC allows the Olympic torch to be carried through Tibet, the Chinese government will inevitably continue - and likely escalate - its repression of Tibetans, using brutal force and mass arrests in order to ensure a successful propaganda exercise. But we can do something about it.
Please contact your National Olympic Committee (NOC) today and ask them to urge the IOC to immediately remove Tibet from the Torch Relay Route. You'll find contact information for your country's NOC here: http://www.olympic.org/uk/organisation/noc/.
Tell them that under current conditions, allowing the torch to go through Tibet would make the IOC complicit in China's assault on Tibetans. At the bottom of this message are more talking points and a sample letter/email.
We're doing everything we can to make sure we're being heard. Almost exactly 11 months after lighting a Tibetan freedom torch on Mt. Everest to protest the torch coming to Tibet, SFT's Deputy Director Tenzin Dorjee is in Olympia today during the Olympic torch lighting to let them know we're keeping up the pressure. SFT held a jam-packed press conference last night and our mere presence in Olympia has authorities bristling. China's long flexed arm showed itself when Tendor was detained and searched as he entered Greece, and he and other Tibet activists continue to be harassed.
It was bad enough that China had hoped to use the Olympic torch, a symbol of freedom, to attempt to legitimize its rule in Tibet. Now, with the people across Tibet rising up and demanding their freedom, the stakes are even higher as the Chinese government looks to seize any excuse to continue its military crackdown against Tibetans.
Please, contact your National Olympic Committee today and urge them to voice their concerns to the IOC about this urgent issue. Your National Olympic Committee (NOC) not only represents your country's Olympic athletes, they represent your nation as well.
Find the contact information for your country's NOC here. Call them. Email them. Send them a letter. It's simple. Just tell them "no torch through Tibet." More talking points and a sample letter/email is below.
Tibet Will be Free.
> Say you would like to leave a message with the President of the NOC.
Here is a sample email/letter:
To the President of the NOC of [insert country],
As a citizen concerned about fundamental respect for human rights and dignity, I am deeply concerned that the International Olympic Committee and the organizers of the Beijing games are continuing with plans to carry the Olympic torch through Tibet.
Right now in Tibet, there is no freedom of speech or movement and the entire nation is under martial law. International sources report that over a hundred Tibetans have been killed and hundreds more arrested or detained. As reports spread of arbitrary arrests, house-to-house raids, killings, and even beatings of schoolchildren, it is unthinkable that the IOC would continue to move forward with 'business as usual.'
Allowing the torch to be carried through Tibet will greatly escalate tensions, giving the Chinese government an excuse to continue its violent crackdown, which will undoubtedly lead to more detentions and deaths.Allowing the torch through Tibet would indelibly tarnish not only the 2008 Olympics but the Olympic movement. The Olympic torch relay should be a celebration that unites people, not a propaganda exercise in which one people seeks to assert its dominance over another.
Tibetan people everywhere have made it clear that they do not want the Olympic torch to pass through their borders. The Chinese government's fervent desire to see the torch pass through Tibet is politically motivated, aimed at saving face despite the widespread protests, and asserting its sovereignty over Tibet. I urge you to place the needs of the Tibetan people and the values of the Olympic movement ahead of the Chinese authorities' desire to project an image of power and invincibility.
Please immediately appeal to the the IOC to withdraw the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the Tibetan provinces of Amdo and Kham - now annexed into China's Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Gansu - from the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay route.
People, athletes and governments of conscience worldwide have responded with an outpouring of support for Tibetans inside Tibet. Please join us in saying "no torch through Tibet."
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