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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Pro-Tibet film gets rare Beijing showing

August 8, 2008

By Ben Blanchard
Reuters
August 6, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) - A new documentary made by a pro-Tibet group on
what Tibetans think of the Olympics premiered in Beijing Wednesday
under a veil of secrecy.

The film, "Leaving Fear Behind," was shown to a small group of
foreign reporters in a dingy hotel room in central Beijing, not far
from Tiananmen Square.

Security officials, in an unusual move, did not interrupt the screening.

"Now that the Olympic Games are finally upon us, it's a chance to
show how Tibetans feel and what their hopes are," Dechen Pemba, a
British Tibetan woman deported from China last month, said in a
videoed statement.

The film featured a series of interviews with Tibetans talking about
how their culture had been trampled on, how they still loved exiled
spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and how they viewed the Olympics as
having done little to improve their lives.

"Outsiders may think that the Tibetans are treated very well and that
they are happy. But the truth is that Tibetans are not free to speak
of their suffering," one Tibetan said on the film.

"Even if I had to sacrifice my life for this message to be seen by
the Dalai Lama, I agree and welcome this chance," said another.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 after an abortive uprising
against Chinese rule.

Farmer Dhondup Wangchen and his monk friend Golog Jigme were detained
shortly after finishing the film, but managed to smuggle tapes out of
the country. "It is very difficult for Tibetans to go to Beijing and
speak out there. So that is why we decided to show the real feelings
of Tibetans inside Tibet through this film," Dhondup Wangchen said in the film.

Four foreign protesters displaying pro-Tibet banners near the main
Bird's Nest stadium were detained earlier in the morning, in a
measure of the issue's sensitivity ahead of Friday's Olympic opening ceremony.

China has accused followers of the Dalai Lama of stirring riots and
protests in Tibetan regions in March in a bid to upstage Olympic
preparations. The Dalai Lama has denied the claim and said he does
not oppose the Games.

But groups campaigning for an independent Tibet have said the Beijing
Olympics should be an opportunity to voice criticism of Chinese policy.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)
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