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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

10 days in jail for holding up a flag

August 24, 2008

Beijing Wide Open Blog
August 22, 2008

On Wednesday night, a lone Tibetan, with two supporters at his side,
flew the Tibetan flag near the Bird's Nest stadium as the men's 200
metre dash finals were ending. Norbu, a Tibetan from Germany, raised
the flag while two American men, John and Jeremy, raised their fists
in the air and bowed their heads in an act of defiance modeled after
John Carlos and Tommie Smith's protest at the Olympics in 1968 in
Mexico City after the same event. Nearby, Briton Mandie McKeown
observed and tried to document the simple action with her camera.

It was all over in a matter of seconds. Norbu, John and Jeremy were
tackled to the ground by plain clothes police. The police descended
on Mandie almost immediately, taking her camera and her phone. This
is one of only two photos we have to document this powerful action:
the Associated Press photographers on the scene were detained and
roughed up and their memory cards were confiscated.

We just received news that these four individuals are likely to be
sentenced to ten days in Chinese detention. Like the artist James
Powderly, and the five citizen journalists, bloggers and activists
detained on August 19th, Norbu, John, Jeremy and Mandie have been
sentenced to jail for nothing more than peaceful expression and
documentation of political views that differ from those of the
Chinese leadership.

But the treatment of our friends and supporters is far from the worst
of it. Yesterday, two elderly Chinese women in their late seventies,
Wang Xiuying and Wu Dianyuan, were told they could spend one year in
a labour camp for daring to apply for permits to protest in the
Olympic 'protest zones' about their eviction from their homes.

This might seem shocking to some but this is the true face of the
Chinese government. This is the China that I know best. All this talk
of 'protest zones' and 'permits' to express dissent was at best a big
PR scam facilitated by the International Olympic Committee and Hill &
Knowlton. Just a shiny polish painted on the same old authorities to
make them appear more friendly and welcoming to the world. But now,
the polish is wearing off and the true colours of the Chinese
authorities are shining through. It was all for the Olympics and it was a lie.

Thankfully, in moments of deceit and oppression like this there are
individuals and people of conscience who refuse to be silent and are
willing to push for change. The action of Norbu, John, Jeremy and
Mandie on Wednesday night is one example. And then there are
exceptional characters of Mrs Wang and Mrs Wu. Apparently they have
staged many protests over the past few years and have been arrested
five times. But they have refused to back down. Even after being
threatened with one year in a labour camp one of them was on CNN
today saying, "you cant be afraid, if you are they come to bully you."

If only more people in this world had their courage.
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