Join our Mailing List

"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Isn't the Beijing Olympics Our Party, Too? Shouldn't We Speak Out? -- A View from India

July 9, 2008

By Kevin Stoda
July 7, 2008

What should we do about the Olympics set for Beijing in September
2008?  Should we go to Beijing for the opening ceremonies, as many of
the leaders at the current Hokkaido G8 summit are planning to do?

After the earthquakes in China this spring, have we stopped listening
to the cries for justice eminating from Tibetans in their homeland
(or from exile around the globe)?

As the Olympics nears, people all over the world are trying to decide
(a) whether to support or (b) how to support the Olympic movement in
China.  It is not surprising then that students here in India are
discussing what to do, too.

This particular 4th of July, I arrived in Manali township in Himachal
Pradesh.  HP is a land of monasteries and fruit orchards in the midst
of many Himalayan mountains of around 20,000 feet.  The following
morning morning, I went for a walk in the nature reserve across from
my hotel and found that Students for Free
Tibet   were just wrapping a
5-day conference on the topic of the 2008 Olympics to be held in
neighboring China within two months.

One of the Indian students approached me and encouraged me to get the
word out about the campaign which they are currently running.

These Indian youth and others in Students for Free Tibet movement are
currently running an "Athlete Wanted Campaign" .  This particular campaign
from  Students for Free Tibet includes the posting of  a full-page
advertisement in the New York Times and in newspapers around the
world stating: "At every Olympics there is one athlete who ends up
inspiring the world with their courage and their character.  We are
hoping that athlete is reading this."

The Students for Free Tibet's  message concludes with this thought:
"With the Olympics beckoning and the world looking to be inspired  by
your heroism we remind you that 6 million Tibetans look to you for
the very same thing.  You can be there for Tibet, they cannot.  You
can speak up for Tibet, for they have been silenced."

In other words, the Students for Free Tibet are telling  tens of
thousands of athletes, their trainers and there families from all
over the planet to not be silent. Students for Free Tibet say that
this responsibility to speak up is "the torch" that each athlete will
carry into the stadiums of this 2008 Olympiade in Beijing.


As a whole, since 1962 (when India basically lost a border war with
China), India has had a poor self image of itself.  It sees itself
politically as a weak nation state--even though it can hold its own
against nuclear Pakistan and has its own nuclear arsenal.

This self-perception is one reason India tends to speak softly and
hardly ever carries a big stick with its notorious neighbors, China and Burma.

Moreover, since its inception, India's historical position has been
to act as a non-alligned nation.  This has led it to follow a more
isolated path of diplomacy, more isolated than either the U.S. or
European states would have liked to have seen it do during the Cold
War-era (and even in the current war on terrorism).  This separate
path to international diplomacy has led, for example, India to stay
out of international treaties on nuclear arsenals,

This is one reason that the Indian Left is ready to walk out of the
ruling government in India currently.

In a short article in EXPRESS INDIA entitled "Don't Bow to the U.S.:
Left to UPA", it is made clear that not even the possibility of
having the U.S. support India's nomination to receive a permanent
seat on the U.N.Security Council is enough to satisfy leftist- and
non-aligned interests for the stalled U.S.-Indian nuclear treaty
before years end.

Those opposing the new treaty with the U.S.A. state: "Giving in to
the US on such vital issues will be counterproductive and will
actually detract from India's credibility as an independent power
which necessitates its representation in the Security Council."

On the other hand THE INDIAN EXPRESS posted another article with a
very similar title on the 4th of July: "Don't Bow to China on Tibet".

According to reporter Hemlata Verma, "The issue of Chinese
government's claims on Tibet and some bordering portion of the Indian
Territory in Arunachal Pradesh dominated the celebrations of 94 years
of Indo-Tibet Border Conventin that had resulted in demarcation of
McMahan Line in 1914."

At the occasion of the Indian-Tibetan anniversary signing, Lok Sabha
Khiran Rijiju stated, "China's claims on Tibet are baseless as
history shows that Inida never shared border with China", i.e. prior
to the time China completely took control of Tibet in the 1950s.

Rijiju, speaking at the same convention in Shimla in Himanchal
Pradesh, emphasized that "India's safety and integrity was connected
with peace in Tibet." (NOTE:  China is still claiming a large chunk
of Indian sovereign territority in the Himalayas.)

Another speaker, Karma Chopal, explained that for centuries "Tibet
and China have been at war against each other and many times
boundaries were defined but China continues to violate them."

Finally, Chopal also expressed the view, "Tibet is self-sufficient to
survive as an economy and to protect their tradition and
culture."  In other words, Tibet never was nor ever will be a
so-called failed state.


On visiting  Himalayan and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in and around
Manali, I have often observed numerous posters concerning the need to
boycott the Olympics or posters on the brutality of Chinese
occupation of Tibet. At other times, torture and death in the
Himalaya were summarized on other walls through pictures and news
clipping -- from as recent as last spring's Tibetan uprising.

There was an especially tear jerking summary on a red wall concerning
the ongoing search for the Panchen Lama, or the anticipated successor
to the Dalai
The real Panchen Lama and his parents had disappeared in 1995 in the
hands of the Chinese regime,  and they have not been heard from since.

Likewise, there was a fairly strong argument for the entire world
community to join in a fight for Tibetan rights, freedoms, and
sovereignty based on the historical injustices the Tibetans have
faced over the past 50-plus years.

Here is what was written on that wall to the right of one entrance to
a monastery near downtown Manali, India:


"Tibet, once an independent sovereign state was forcefully occupied
by China in 1959, in the name of liberation and progress. China has
been systematically trying to wipe from the face of this earth the
Tibetans as a distinct race and culture.  The Chinese rule in Tibet
is more brutal and inhumane than any other communist regime in the
world. In 1960, the International Commission of Jurists found through
intensive investigation that China had committed acts of genocide on
Tibet.  Over 1.2 Million Tibetans have been killed, more than 6000
monasteries and institutes of learning have been destroyed--and
Tibetans are deprived of the basic rights of expression, speech,
movement, religion, etc.Tibetan women are subjected to forced
abortion and sterilization. Tibetan children are deprived of the
basic childhood education, arbitrary arrest, repression, torture, &
imprisonment have been the regular feature of this regime for the
last 50 years. [Meanwhile] 7.5 million Chinese have been transferred
to Tibet--making 6 million Tibetans in Tibet a minority in their own land."

"The question of Tibetan Independence is not only matter of Tibetans
alone.  It is directly related to Peace in Asia and the world at
large.  We, therefore, appeal to the world communities to help us in
our struggle for  complete independence."

This large-print text (or announcement) on that  Manali monastery's
entranceway was signed by the local TIBETAN FREEDOM MOVEMENT, Manali,
Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, and the Regional Tibetan Women Association.

In short, there are voices in India and from around the world in
support of Tibet and in support of Tibetans anywhere, but what do we
do about the Olympics and what should or could Olympians due to speak out?


First of all, we need to remember that protest requires
imagination!  (So, my suggestions below are not in any ways totally inclusive!)

Second, here some suggestions for athletes:

(1) Walk around singing bars from Alice's Restaurant--even on the
podium when receiving your medals--perhaps fans can home along, too.

(2)  Go out and demand that Tibetan food be served on your
compound--demand it before your arrival.

(3) Go out and enjoy Tibetan food while participating in the Olympics
and let all your friends, especially your blogger buddies and ESPN
know about it.

(4) When doing stretching exercises, lay down in the grass and spell
out Tibet or Free Tibet or even Dalai Lama--you will need teamwork
for this and a camera.

(5) Be sure to visit Tibet or demand a visit to Tibet while in China!
(Imagine what it would be like if 11,000 athletes said, "We want to
see and meet Tibetans in Tibet before it's gone.)

(6) Write your Congressmen or government and let them no you want
your own regime to protest in a loud voice on behalf of the people of Tibet!

Finally, non-Olympic participants, could do the same, i.e. sing along
with ALICE'S RESTAURANT, demand Tibetan food be served in Beijing and
Shanghai, visit Tibet, take photos of real Tibet, leave behind FREE
TIBET graffiti everywhere, blog about it, put something about it on
You-Tube, etc.

You can also write your congressman or send money to a Tibetan relief
or organization, including one that supports  temples and society
inside Tibet or in neighboring lands, like India.

In any case, let not a single day of these 2008 Olympics go by
without doing something creative to help Tibet or going out of your
way to financially, politically, and spiritually to support the
Tibetan peoples.

Guthrie, Arlo, Alice's Restaurant

  "Don't Bow to the U.S.: Left to UPA",

Guthrie, Arlo, Alice's Restaurant    or

"MANALI: Land of Monestaries and Orchards",

"Torture in Tibet",

USAID "Tibetan Torture Survivors Program",

Verma, Hemlata, ""Don't Bow to China on Tibet", THE INDIAN EXPRESS, 4
July 2008, p.6.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank