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

Friday, October 28, 2005

Microsoft Bows to Chinese Pressure on Bhutan Tibet Link

Save Tibet | October 24th, 2005

Microsoft has barred the use of the Bhutanese government's official term for the Bhutanese language, Dzongkha, in any of its products after Beijing complained that the term had affiliations with the Dalai Lama. In an internal memorandum, Microsoft employees were told not to use the term Dzongkha in any Microsoft software, language lists or promotional materials since "Doing so implies affiliation with the Dalai Lama, which is not acceptable to the government of China. In this instance, replace "Dzongkha" with 'Tibetan - Bhutan'."

The Kingdom of Bhutan is situated in the Himalayas between India and Tibet. The state religion is the Drukpa Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and Dzongkha, a Tibetan dialect, is the official language. Dzongkha has a linguistic relationship to modern Tibetan in a similar way to that between Spanish and Italian.

The use of the word Dzongkha was graded by Microsoft as a 'ship-stopper', which means that a product may not be produced in any form until the problem is resolved. Microsoft has four levels of error severity, ship-stopper being the most severe.

Likely uses of the term may have been in Language Lists for Microsoft products or in Microsoft's Encarta product, which includes an encyclopedia and world atlas.

In June 2005 civil liberties groups condemned an arrangement between Microsoft and Chinese authorities to censor the internet. The American company aided censors in removing words like "freedom", "democracy", "human rights", "Tibet" and "Dalai Lama" from the net in China with a software package that prevents bloggers from using these and other politically sensitive words on their websites.

Earlier this year Microsoft boss Bill Gates praised China's leaders, who have mixed market economics with rigid political control. "It is a brand new form of capitalism, and as a consumer it's the best thing that ever happened."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Another techtoy bit o' fun

I'd like everyone to try this new service "Frappr" out. Basically, its a way we can create a global map of where all of SFT supporters are. You can quickly add your location, photo, and a text or link. You can add multiple locations, as well, so insert your favorite Tibetan restuarant, SFT hangout, or any other interesting place.

Click on the image to start Frappin: Check out our Frappr!

You can permanently find our Frappr map at http://www.frappr.com/studentsforafreetibet
I hope this can help all of us scattered around the globe to feel a bit more connected.

Tibet Tones (now for free!)

I'm planning to "relaunch" the ringtones and wallpaper service I launched a year or so ago. I've renamed it TibeTones (or maybe its "Tibet Tones"), and am working on a new website.

In the meantime, all the existing tones and pics are now available absolutely free! You can also easily download them and send them around to friends, upload them to your phones (for Verizon users), and do basically anything you want with them!

So, go have some fun right now at Tibet Tones

And if you have any ideas for a new ringtones or picture, please send them to me, or write them here in the blog comments!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

ITSN in London

Here I am in London at the annual meeting of the Steering Committee of the International Tibet Support Network... good folks from Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) from all over the world.

ITSN is a coordinating body made up of TSGs around the world. The Steering Committee consists of representatives of TSGs from every region of the world. Good work happened this weekend and I predict that it's going to take off this year!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

SFT Fundraiser in Boston

Friday night, October 20

SFT Board members Rick, Dechen, Nyesang and Wangyal hosted a house party at Rick's very old house in Boston (the house was built in 1867, soon after Rick's ancestors saw the end of the American Civil War). Besides raising enough funds to temporarily postpone SFT's constantly looming financial predicament, the party was one crazy mix of pleasure and pleasure. See for yourself!


The party has begun














Boston Tibetan Dance Troupe (Redux)















Gorshay - Tibetan Circle Dance - brings the night to a rapturous close












Hope fills the room with music


















Wangyal goes Sinatra, and the ladies go wild

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rockin' Volunteer Crew at SFT HQ

We had an amazing volunteer crew here at the SFT office today and this evening helping us to get out a big (verrry big) mailing. We're sending out the fall/winter edition of Banned in Tibet, the SFT Newsletter (available online as a PDF for the first time here) to all of our members and supporters. That's a lot of labels and stamps and these silly little perforated circular stickers the post office demands we seal each Newsletter with before we put 'em in the mailbox.

Grassroots Coordinator Tendor has also been workin' overtime (which in SFT terms means double-overtime) getting a big pakage together... and then duplicating it a few hundred times... to send out to all of the SFT chapters worldwide. No small task.

And of course, the whole thing would have been impossible without the extra hands here today (and yesterday, and last week, for the last 10 years, etc.). Thanks again everyone. Below (L-R): Yangchen, Yankey, Tsomo, Tenkey, Tendu, Chime and some guy who apparently thinks he's pretty lucky. Yeah, that would be Tendor.

Welcome SFT IPFW Blog!

I'd like to welcome SFT Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne's blog to our blogroll. Sara and Michelle are doing a phenomenal job organizing in the Midwest. Their blog is a superb example of how SFT chapters can use blogs to share information about chapter events with their members while telling the world what they are doing to make Tibet a free nation.

Great work Sara and Michelle! Keep it up!

Cheers,
Matt

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

SFT Party & Fundraiser at Hi-Fi


New York Area SFTers should come by and be sure to bring all their friends (and have their friends tell their friends and so on and so on...).

Monday, October 17, 2005

SFT Smith Organizes Sold-Out Event

On Saturday night, SFT Chapter at Smith College organized a fullhouse event, attended by over 200 students and parents. The featured performers of the event, a group of monks from Drepung Gomang monastery, showcased the spi-ritual aspects of Tibetan culture for about an hour. Dawa Yangzom, Chapter President of Smith SFT, introduced the evening with words that describe every Tibetan's deepest emotions. "Although it's wonderful to have the monks perform onstage and showcase Tibetan culture," she said, "I wish that we didn't have to do this in the first place." She added that ideally, all Tibetans would prefer watching such sacred performances in the Barkhor Square before the Potala, not on stage in a foreign country."

Tenzin Seldon, Chapter Chair of Mount Holyoke SFT, shared a moving and eye-opening account of her personal journey in Tibet. Traveling in Tibet can be deceptive, she said, because there is a veneer of colorful freedom that belies China's relentless, systematic destruction of Tibetan culture, religion and language.


Dawa Yangzom, President, Smith SFT Chapter

Nervous before the show: Drepung Gomang monks wait for the right time to appear onstage

Buddhist Dialectics: are they debating the merits vs demerits of the Iraq War?














One Group: members of SFT Smith and Drepung Gomang, neighboring SFTers, and myself in the hot blue suit jacket.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

More on jailed Chinese blogger

[A]s the 37-year-old married reporter behind the numeric pseudonym "198964" learned, he shouldn't have assumed that Yahoo defends press freedom. When Chinese security agents asked executives at Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) to identify the man, they did so. Police grabbed him on a street, searched his house and seized his computer and other belongings, according to documents filed in his defense.

Mr. "198964," whose real name is Shi Tao, is serving a 10-year jail sentence for "divulging state secrets abroad." Bloggers, human rights groups and journalism organizations, including PEN and Reporters Without Borders, condemned the action.

More from BoingBoing.net

Monday, October 10, 2005

Quick Blog Update

Hi, everyone! We've update the blog sidebar on the right to feature live, dynamic content coming from all over the web. The top displays SFT photos from the popular Flickr service. You can add your photos into this "stream" by uploading your own photos onto Flickr and tagging them with the "SFT".

Below that, you'll see now the actual latest headlines from the SFT Canada and SFT U.K. blogs, instead of just the boring links.

And finally, we have the latest Technorati blog search results for "Tibet". Find out what people from all over the world are discussing about Tibet in their blogs.

Hope you enjoy the new features!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

SFT UK in NYC

Alice, Ben, and Fiona - three of the superstars of SFT UK - are in New York. Strategically mixing business & pleasure, they're hanging out with SFT staff & getting to know SFT board members (photo at left is a bunch of us out for dinner at Tsampa Restaurant), checking out the SFT office, and meeting with all of us on topics ranging from upcoming campaign and action opportunities to fundraising and solidifying the network of student Tibet activists across the UK.

It's been nice to have 'em here and I hope they're having a little fun on the visit. Too bad Saturday (yesterday) was such a dreary, rainy day. For most of the day, we were in Brooklyn for the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress' founding anniversary celebration. Founded in 1970, TYC turned 35 - or 36 in Tibetan years (start on "1") - and there were speeches, spirited performances, a political rap by namgyal Yeshi ["China is lying, our people are dying..."] and of course, an excellent yak dance (who were those yak-suit-clad freedom fighters?).

L-R: Ben, Alice, Han, and Fiona talk shop in the SFT HQ "Lounge"

L-R: SFT and TYC super-activist Kushola Sonam Wangdu,
'old school' SFT Board member Sophia, UK SFTer Alice
(from England)and UK SFTer Fiona (from N. Ireland) at the TYC
Founding Celebration in Brooklyn (Williamsburg) organized by
the Regional TYC of New York & New Jersey.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Midwest Regional Conference Blogging Demo

Hi I'm bloggin live with a bunch of SFTers from the Midwest! They don't know how to blog, but hopefully after this they'll go to Blogger to sign up for their own blogs and link to the SFT blog.

[UPDATE: PICS FROM THE CONFERENCE BELOW!!]


I hope they buy how easy this is.

Matt

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mobile Phones and Activism

A week ago I attended an activist conference in Toronto, focused on how to utilize mobile phones for civic engagement, social justice, and human rights work around the world. It was quite a gathering, and you can see the full information on it here: http://www.mobileactive.org

As part of the event a declaration was written. Here is the "SMS" 160 character version:

"Mobile phones serve Communication. Communication serves Humanity. Humanity should serve Humanity. Mobile phones: tech 4 people changing the world."

You can read the complete and amazing declaration, in which we declare that communications technology is a right derived from the inalienable right of freedom expression, and make other bold statements.

SFT can and should make use of mobile technology more. From sending simple text messages reminders out to get people to come to rallys, coordinating large teams of people during actions, or creating our own propaganda through ringtones.

Here's some links to get you started:
Getting Started "Gutter-tech Guide to SMS": http://www.mobileactive.org/wiki/index.php?title=Guttertech_Guide_to_SMS
TXTMob - free service for setting up SMS/test message mailing lists: http://txtmob.com/