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Polish Province Shows Solidarity with Tibet

August 8, 2008

Gazeta Wyborcza (the Polish's daily)
August 5, 2008

On Friday, the day the Olympic Games open in Beijing, the provincial
government of Malopolskie will display Tibetan flags. The Chinese
have sent a sharp protest.

The flags will be displayed on all buildings administered by the
Ma?opolskie provincial government, including in the centre of Cracow
on the Slowacki's Theatre , Teatr Stu, the Cracow Opera's buildings,
or in Zakopane on the Teatr im. Witkacego building. Also in less
high-profile places, such as in the town of Wielkie Drogi on the
educational buildings.

'A total of 156 buildings across the province the fly the flags.
These will be schools, museums, theatres, hospitals, clinics,
official buildings', says Anna Rudzka at the Ma?opolskie Province
Marshal's Office. 'The province authorities have spent close to
PLN10,000 to buy the flags.'

The decision on displaying Tibetan flags across the province was made
by the provincial assembly on the last day of March, shortly
following reports that the Buddhist monks' peaceful protests in Tibet
had been crushed by the Chinese military.

'We want to remind those of the region's inhabitants who will be
following the Games in People's Republic of China about the country's
human rights violations', says Kazimierz Czekaj, Civic Platform (PO)
councillor and the campaign's initiator. 'We want to make a clearer
gesture than just passing a appeal protesting the situation in Tibet', he adds.

The councillors wrote in a special resolution: 'The use of force
against Tibetans demanding their rights has already caused the death
of hundreds of people, and many more have been wounded, imprisoned or
persecuted. My, the Poles, know what it means to right for freedom
and human rights. We also know the importance of the international
public opinion's solidarity, because we experienced it on numerous
occasions during the time of Solidarity. That is why we cannot keep
silent. We demand that the Chinese government immediately
discontinues the reprisals in Tibet. We demand respect for the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.'

China's reaction was not long in coming. An official letter was sent
to the Ma?opolskie provincial assembly by the Standing Committee of
Jiangsu Province, with which Ma?opolskie four years ago signed a
friendship and cooperation agreement. It read, 'A few rioters
committed acts of violence, including scuffles, armed robberies,
plunders and arsons, violating law and order and causing great damage
to life and property. These are independence slogan-chanting thugs.
It is not right to believe the version of the events presented by
just one side, the clique of Dalai and a few press agencies.'

'It's a foregone conclusion that we'll fly the flags. We're just now
sending them to all the units in our jurisdiction with the
instructions that they should be displayed on the day of the
Olympics' opening', says Lukasz Strutynski, secretary of the
Malopolskie marshal.

Translated by Marcin Wawrzynczak
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