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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Australian athletes offered Olympics "rights" pack

July 15, 2008

By Rob Taylor

CANBERRA Mon Jul 14, 2008 (Reuters) - Australian athletes and supporters
wanting to support Tibetan independence and human rights at the Beijing
Olympics were on Monday offered "rights" packs, but warned they could
upset Chinese authorities.

The activist Australia Tibet Council said it had responded to an
unspecified number of requests from athletes for material to support
Tibetan freedom claims by producing packs containing t-shirts, badges,
stickers and temporary tattoos.

"Going right back to March, people have been approaching us and asking
how they can help Tibet in Beijing," campaign coordinator Simon Bradshaw
told Reuters, declining to name any high-profile athletes asking to take
part.

But Bradshaw said the resource packs could be confiscated from athletes
and spectators at the airport entering China, warning they may "face
consequences."

Bradshaw and former Australian Olympic swimmer Michelle Engelsman showed
a green and yellow T-shirt reading: "I support human rights," written in
both Mandarin and English.

The carefully-chosen wording made no mention of Tibet, avoiding it did
not violate the Olympic charter prohibiting political and racial
propaganda, Bradshaw said.

Engelsman said she hoped at least some athletes would wear their t-shirt
once they finished competing in events.

Australian cyclist Cadel Evans, currently placed second and favorite to
win the Tour de France, is one prominent Australian athlete who has worn
"Free Tibet" t-shirts under competition clothing, exposing it at times
during lead-up races.

Evans sponsors a Tibetan child, has "free Tibet" links on his website
and unveiled the t-shirt with the Tibetan independence flag during the
April Liege-Bastogne-Liege race, in a move likely to prompt close
scrutiny from Chinese officials in Beijing.

The packs also contained information about the Tibet issue and China's
crackdown on anti-government riots in March.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said Filipino rights activists had
mailed about 20,000 letters to China, calling on officials to free
political prisoners, allow a free press and abolish internet censorship
ahead of the Games.

Aurora Paring, head of the group's local chapter, said the letters were
part of a global "million signatures" campaign to remind China of its
commitment to promote human rights during the Olympics.

(Additional reporting by Manny Megaton in Manila; Editing by Jeremy
Laurence)

(For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" here;
and see our bog at blogs.reuters.com/china)
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