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Former rower cycling to help Tibetan cause

August 17, 2008

Casey MacLeod,
The Leader-Post (Regina, Canada)
August 14, 2008

With the first week of the Olympics underway, the focus for most
people worldwide is on the joy and spectacle of the games, but David
Kay's focus is on Tibet and on the highway stretching before him.

Kay, a former member of Team Canada's rowing squad and Pan American
Games medallist, is cycling across Canada to raise awareness of the
ongoing human rights violations in Tibet in what the Canada Tibet
Committee calls Tibet's Race for Rights.

"This is my response to China's human rights record in the lead up to
the Olympics and the commitment that it made in 2001 to improve its
human rights record in order to host the Olympics this summer,"
explained Kay, who made a stop in Regina Wednesday.

"I don't feel they've improved and many other international
organizations feel the same way. There's a lot of human rights abuses
going on against journalists and political activists and religious
associations."

Kay said there seems to be a disconnect between the Canadian and
International Olympic committees' actions and their views about the games.

"The COC and the IOC say that the Olympics are about sports and
they're not about politics. If that were the case then why were human
rights such an issue in 2001 when China was making a bid to host the
Olympics?" he said.

"If it was necessary for them to make a commitment to improve its
human rights, then obviously politics is part of the Olympics, it's
in the Olympic charter itself."

Kay added that no country, Canada included, has a "clean slate" when
it comes to the abuse of human rights, so "we need to take every
opportunity that we can to improve human rights."

"Clearly there's an opportunity this summer with China hosting the
Olympics. Never before has there been so many foreigners in China at
the same time," he said.

"I'm not, nor is most organizations, calling for a boycott this
summer. What we are asking for specifically is Canadian athletes,
that once their competitions are over and once they've done their
best representing Canada ... that they think about what they think
about human rights in China ... and act according to how their
conscience dictates. There's many ways that they can do that that are
completely within the IOC protocol."

As Kay crosses each province he rides to honour various people who
have been affected by China's human rights violations in Tibet.

"As I ride through Saskatchewan it's a Tibetan nun who's 27 years
old," he said of Tsering Tsomo. "She was demonstrating peacefully,
handing out leaflets calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, and
she was severely beaten and arrested by Chinese police for simply doing that."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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