Tibet Will Be Free (the SFT Blog!)

WELCOME TO THE STUDENTS FOR A FREE TIBET BLOG--------> This is the weblog of the SFT Headquarters. Here you can peek into the minds (not to mention actions, events, trainings, brainstorms, parties...) of the SFT staff, board members, volunteers, friends and fellow activists. Tibet will be free.

We've Moved:

Tibet Will Be Free has moved off of this site because Blogger is owned by Google. Visit the new TIBET WILL BE FREE at blog.studentsforafreetibet.org

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

An Audience with His Holiness


Tuesday, September 27th was an unforgettable day for SFT. His Holiness the Dalai Lama granted an audience to New York-area Tibet Support Groups including SFT, USTC (United States Tibet Committee), TJC (Tibet Justice Center) and others.

His Holiness spoke for a good fifteen minutes, during which he talked about the dangers to Tibetan survival posed by the China-Tibet Railway, the urgency of the Tibet situation, and most importantly, he spoke of hope. The thing that registered most deeply in my mind, as I listened closely to my leader's impassioned speech, was that he was getting old. But he was not giving up! Again and again, His Holiness said, "Work harder." It was as if he was acknowledging the fact that we were already working very hard - but that we need to work even harder if we were to achieve our goal. Although there were not many people in that audience, his message "Work Harder" was clearly intended for everyone working for Tibet and freedom everywhere.

After the audience, the SFT staff, board, and some of our most dedicated members and supporters went to Tibetan Kitchen to eat some momo and drink some beer (those under 21 drank water or soda, of course).

Monday, September 26, 2005

Messenger From a Burning House

A brilliant opinion piece in the LA Times by writer Pico Iyer. These are important words for anyone - from Larry King to Paul Martin to wealthy western 'Tibetan' Buddhists - who claim to admire the Dalai Lama. Just an excerpt:

How to try to preserve Tibet after half a century of occupation remains a tangled question: More and more Tibetans in exile, especially the young, believe the Dalai Lama is too conciliatory, too ready to forgive, and some urge attacks on Chinese power stations, roads and even officials. When the Dalai Lama, who just turned 70, is no longer around, it's possible that some Tibetans will turn, in desperation, to terrorism. His gamble — and hope — is that by taking the high road, and speaking for universal principles of tolerance and trust, he will gain some (mostly invisible) ground in the long run.

Those of us outside the Tibetan community face a very different, but no less urgent, task: As the Dalai Lama travels through the U.S., those who long to see him, to touch him, those who are eager to bask in his infectious optimism and warmth, must also try to help him in the place where he needs it most: urging China to change its policies before there is no Tibet to save.

Otherwise we just seize the parts of his message that inspire us and ignore the parts that challenge us. In doing so, we become dangerously close to being children gathering around a spiritual godfather, hungry for his wisdom and hardly caring that his home, across the way, is going up in flames.

Read the full piece in the LA Times.

Friday, September 23, 2005

SFT vs. the Chinese Ambassador: A Showdown

I woke up real early this morning, hoping to be the first one to arrive at work. But I was disappointed when I saw that Matt, Lhadon and Han were already there, hard at work printing handouts and preparing placards. Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong was going to give a speech at the Asia Society and we had a plan to disrupt his business.

Around 11:45 am, Tibetans and supporters, representing TYC, TWA and SFT in the New York area, waited in the lobby of the Asia Society building, pretending to be customers looking to buy museum sovenirs. When the Ambassador drove up to the entrance, we all jumped out from behind the shelves, pulled out Tibetan national flags from our pockets, and started chanting, "Shame on Zhou, Shame on China, Free Tibet Now." Confused and shaken, Ambassador Zhou was quickly shuffled away by his security guards into the elevator.

At the conclusion of the program at about 1:45 p.m. the security guards and the police started preparing a quiet exit for the Chinese Ambassador. But the building had only two exits, and we had both exits covered. Eventually, the Chinese Ambassador exited through the back door, where some of us chanted and waved the Tibetan flags for a full two minutes while he maneauvered his way through the crowd to his limousine. Let's just say, we got him! By the way, this is the same Chinese Ambassador who had to put up with Rich Felker, SFT's Regional Coordinator for Midatlantic, who chained himself to a pillar last year when the Ambassador visited the University of Virginia.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents

Reporters Without Borders has released what the AP calls an "ABC guide of tips for bloggers and dissidents to sneak past Internet censors in countries from China to Iran"

Check out the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents.

Hopefully the rat bastards at Yahoo! won't go reading it just to figure out how to foil the various schemes... hoping to railroad some more China critics in their effort to show the Chinese Communist Party how far they'll bend over for a buck.

In the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Tibet activists, Chinese Democracy activists and anyone who wants to see a billion people gain a measure of freedom from the Olympic opportunity, need to start writing without fear of persecution and punching holes in the great Chinese internet firewall. There isn't too much in the Handbook that most geeky types in the U.S. don't already know but it's a good start. Bravo to RPF.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Mock Hanging in Vancouver as Hu Dines!

From Jeff Langlois, SFT Canada Board Member:

Tonight's action was a resounding success, Kate and the rest of SFT Vancouver made a fantastic effort this past week and managed to pull together a great demo and action. We had about a hundred supporters in addition to many Falun Gong and Tiawanese who noisily greeted Hu Jintao. About half way through the demonstration Kate scaled a 50 foot flagpole and hung two banners before staging a mock hanging. It lasted for over an hour and in the end they just let us walk away without any charges or even a warning. It really was a night of victories.

I have attached a few of the first photos from the action (that is Kate hanging under that shroud). Also, visit

http://www.940news.com/nouvelles.php?cat=23&id=91702

for the first bit of coverage (the mock hanging is not reported on but our fabulous media spokesperson Pema Lhalungpa managed to get a great quote in there!)

Talk to you all soon,

Jeff Langlois

Friday, September 16, 2005

SFT UK REPRESENT!

Along with UK-based Free Tibet Campaign, SFT UK took the lead in a high-profile political theater protest against Canadian company Bombardier at the "InfraRail 2005 Exhibition," a railway industry trade show that took place in Manchester on Thursday.

SFTers everywhere have been targeting Bombardier for its partnership with the Chinese government in the ghastly China-Tibet railway, which the Dalai Lama recently remarked would be responsible for "cultural genocide" of the Tibetan people.

They apparently made quite a stir inside the exhibit before being ejected by security. To read more, check out the SFT UK page with the Press Release.

Rally at the UN

Thursday was a remarkable day of action for SFT. Over one hundred Tibetans rallied outside the United Nations alongside activists for East Turkestan, the Falun Gong, Togo, Ethiopia, and Kashmir. After five hours of chanting, shouting, singing, and speeches (including a powerful one by Uyghur political prisoner Rebiya Kadeerr), we marched all the way across Manhattan, along 42nd Street to the Chinese Consulate, chanting all the way. Our police escort even helped us out by honking to the beat of our slogans! Hu Jintao, the UN, and all of New York were loudly reminded that we will not rest until Tibet is free. Check out some pictures below



Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Chinese Welcoming Bush to NYC

One odd bit from yesterday's activities at the Waldorf was the presence of a Chinese military style marching band as part of the welcoming committee for Hu Jintao. To put it bluntly, they were horrible -- though it was curious to see them there to welcome President Bush's arrival too. Sorry if the quality is bad, they're from my camera phone
Matt


The beauty products from the skin of executed Chinese prisoners

Okay *this* is just too much:

A Chinese cosmetics company is using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe, an investigation by the Guardian has discovered.

Agents for the firm have told would-be customers it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments from skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot. The agents say some of the company's products have been exported to the UK, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is "traditional" and nothing to "make such a big fuss about".
...
He suggested that the use of skin and other tissues harvested from executed prisoners was not uncommon. "In China it is considered very normal and I was very shocked that western countries can make such a big fuss about this," he said. Speaking from his office in northern China, he added: "The government has put some pressure on all the medical facilities to keep this type of work in low profile."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/china/story/0,7369,1568622,00.html

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Live Blogging from Waldorf Astoria...

I'm at the corner of 53rd and Park. We're all sitting around wondering "Where's Hu?" and the only answer is "Hu Knows?". He was supposed to be here at 11am, but as of 4pm (when I finally showed up) he is still in transit, or maybe he's taking a nap somewhere.

In the meantime, the Chinese Foreign Minister (we suspect) decided to make a visit to the loyal Chinese demonstrators on the street. Little did he know there were plenty of Tibetans and Falun Gong waiting in the midst to make his press opportunity a bit unpleasant. Kusho-la, Tendor, and Matt were right at the front...see the link below to a quicktime movie (you may need to download quicktime here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime) that i just filmed of the encounter.

Click here for the Quicktime movie of "Chinese official press moment spoiled". Its 19MB so it may take a little while to download. You may want to save it to disk.

Hopefully, Hu will arrive soon. I may not be here to cover it, but there will be plenty of other folks around to tell the tale later...

Canada Protests - News Highlights

Here's two videos of the news coverage on the Canada protests. (Windows Media Player Required)

CTV News Toronto: Janice Golding on the protests 2:13

CTV News: Roger Smith on the human rights issue 1:52

My favorite part is when Hu is asked a question about Tibet and says "The question does not exist!". What does he think he's got Jedi mind powers or something?! Or maybe he's been watching our own White House press conferences.

Oh, and....Go Canada!!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

TIBETANS AND STUDENTS PROTEST VISIT OF CHINESE PRESIDENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2005


Contact:
Dechen Goff - 647-886-5076 (mobile)
Kate Woznow – 778-322-3071 (mobile)
*Photo opportunity*


TIBETANS AND STUDENTS PROTEST VISIT OF CHINESE PRESIDENT
Canadian Government Urged to Press Hu Jintao on Tibetan Issue


OTTAWA, September 9th – China's President Hu Jintao will be met with protests calling for Tibetan independence during his first official visit to Canada today. Members of Students for a Free Tibet Canada (SFT Canada) are planning a demonstration in Ottawa to bring attention to China's ongoing military occupation of Tibet and pressure Prime Minister Paul Martin to ensure that Tibetan self-determination is on the agenda for discussions with the Chinese President. Protests are also planned for Vancouver, Toronto and New York.


"The situation in Tibet has not improved since Hu Jintao came to power," said Dechen Goff, a young Tibetan-Canadian lawyer and Chair of the SFT Canada Board of Directors. "The Chinese authorities continue to imprison and torture Tibetans for nothing more than the peaceful expression of their religious and political beliefs. The only change we've seen lately is the effort by the Chinese government to improve their public relations on the Tibetan issue."


Hu Jintao’s visit to Canada comes on the heels of China's recent celebrations of the “40th anniversary” of the establishment of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR)-- the Chinese governments' most recent attempt to depict Tibet as an integral part of China rather than a distinct nation andd people with a rich history of independence.


"The image Beijing is attempting to put forth in anticipation of the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games-- of China as a progressive and modern democratic nation-- is grossly inaccurate," said Kate Woznow, National Coordinator of SFT Canada. "It's up to the governments and citizens of free countries like Canada to reject this myth and hold China accountable for its continued systematic repression of Tibetans' fundamental right to determine their own future."


Business interests are expected to dominate the agenda of the Chinese President's landmark visit to Canada. In recent months, Bombardier, Nortel and PowerCorp (Investors Group) have been the targets of a campaign by SFT Canada and other Tibet support groups for their involvement in the Chinese Government's controversial China-Tibet railway. This project is the cornerstone of China's so-called “Western Development Plan,” aimed at aggressively developing the occupied territories of Tibet and East Turkestan (Xinjiang) in order to consolidate Chinese government control over the restive regions.


###

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yahoo 'helped jail China writer'

Sad to see that so many of my technology brethren are still so easily blinded by greed and lust for the "world's biggest internet market". Doesn't anyone learn from the past?:

"Internet giant Yahoo has been accused of supplying information to China which led to the jailing of a journalist for "divulging state secrets". Reporters Without Borders said Yahoo's Hong Kong arm helped China link Shi Tao's e-mail account and computer to a message containing the information. The media watchdog accused Yahoo of becoming a "police informant" in order to further its business ambitions.
<..snip..>
The companies say they have to abide by local regulations, and point out that since China is set to be the world's biggest internet market, they cannot ignore it."

More here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4221538.stm

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Awesome Update on Cal Fair Story Below

Chris Mckenna of Tibet Justice Center: "Now the editorial board has jumped in on our side…. I was trying to get a hold of them earlier to see how the school reacted (or if they have reacted). I’ll keep everyone posted."

A great, on-target Editorial from the Sacramento Bee:

Editorial: Sensitivity lesson

Sac State gives China a free pass

Published Wednesday, August 31, 2005

College administrators can't be expected to be fully up to date on international politics. But those at Sacramento State's College of Continuing Education who helped arrange display space for blatant Chinese propaganda at the State Fair fell woefully short.

The exhibit - "Folkways of Tibet" - shows the kinds of artifacts one expects in such a display. But it omits how Tibet became part of China: It was subjugated by the communist regime that took power in 1949. Nor was there a hint of how Beijing has stifled Tibet: installed a puppet spiritual figure, browbeat other countries into shunning the exiled Dalai Lama, destroyed thousands of monasteries, killed countless Tibetans (some estimates exceed 1 million) and moved hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese into Tibet to dilute its indigenous character.

It's not surprising that the Chinese government, which helped plan and pay for the exhibit in cooperation with a graduate of California State University, Sacramento, failed to include any of those troubling facts in the exhibit. But it added insult to falsehood by including a film in which one Tibetan says: "Had it not been for the Communist Party, this beautiful life now would not be possible."

Someone at CSUS should at least have checked out the content of this travesty, which Alice Tom, dean of continuing education, said had not been done. She did, however, offer an astonishing ex-post-facto rationale for why the exhibit is a success: "We've created something for people to learn from."

That adds fantasy to slipshod planning. It's likelier that for every person who may have been sensitized to the reality in Tibet, there are far more who, seeing the exhibit out of context, may believe what China's propagandists want them to. It's not only the students at CSUS who need continuing education.

If you don't want to register (it's free but still...) you can cut and paste the link into a browser window and it should go straight to the page:
http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/story/13498363p-14338938c.html