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Tibet support groups send letter to Coca-Cola

April 23, 2008

News Release
For Immediate Release

23 April 2008
 
Tibet support groups send letter to Coca-Cola
[Montreal] – More than 150 Tibet groups worldwide have signed a letter sent to Coca-Cola and other key Olympic sponsors, stating that they will be complicit in a humanitarian disaster in Tibet unless they use their undoubted influence to compel the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to drop Tibet from the Olympic Torch Relay.

The groups justify their concerns that a humanitarian disaster will unfold as the torch passes through Tibet by citing a statement made by Jampa Phuntsog, governor of the Tibet Autonomous Region, on 9 April. In his statement Phuntsog confirmed he expected Tibetans to protest and warned ominously “We will without doubt deal with these persons severely….we will not be merciful.”

The letter, a full version of which appears below (see note 5) highlights that “there is a direct, tangible link between the ongoing repression in Tibet and the coming of the Olympic Flame.” It goes on to highlight a leaked IOC memo which makes it clear that the IOC is fully aware that deaths may occur along the route of the torch. The memo advises IOC officials to respond to news of deaths simply by expressing "deepest sympathies or condolences".

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For more information:
Dermod Travis, Canada Tibet Committee
514.487.0665
dermod@tibet.ca
 
Notes to editors:
1: The Beijing Olympic Torch is scheduled to ascend Mount Everest during the first two weeks of May, and pass through Tibetan areas, (parts of Yunnan, Sichuan, Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai and Gansu) between 7 and 30 June. See map which shows areas of Tibet where protests have taken place since 10 March http://www.tibetnetwork.org/files/protests2008/Tibetprotestsmap12April.jpg
 
2. Similar letters to the one below to Coca Cola have been sent today to Adidas, Budweiser, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Kodak, Lenovo, McDonald's, Panasonic, Samsung, Snickers (Mars Inc), Staples, Swatch, UPS, Visa and Volkswagen
 
3. The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organisation of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.
 
4. The Canada Tibet Committee is part of the International Tibet Support Network, a global coalition of Tibet related non-governmental organizations, which works to maximise the effectiveness of the worldwide Tibet movement. ITSN Member organizations hold varied positions on Tibet's future political status, but all regard Tibet as an occupied country and are dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet, and to working actively to restore the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their own political, economic, social, religious, and cultural status.
 
5. Full text of letter to Coca Cola follows.
Dear Mr Isdell,

Thank you for your letter of 2 April. I am replying on behalf of the 153 Member organizations of the International Tibet Support Movement.

Whilst your statement of concern with regard to the situation in Tibet is welcome, we feel that such concern must now be backed up with strong and immediate action on the part of Coca-Cola in order to avoid being publicly complicit in the humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in Tibet and likely to be exacerbated when the torch passes through in May (Everest) and June. To our dismay, the International Olympic Committee has so far failed to act to prevent China taking the torch through Tibet, so it is now urgent that you use your influence as a key Olympic Sponsor to avert disaster.

Please understand that there is a direct, tangible link between the ongoing repression in Tibet and the coming of the Olympic Flame, as Chinese authorities clear a path for the Torch Relay, employing the harshest of means. China’s parading of the torch through Tibet is extremely likely to provoke protests by Tibetans whose feelings have been inflamed by recent violent crackdowns by the Chinese authorities on Tibetan protesters. Tibetans also deeply resent the way in which China is mis-using the torch for nationalistic self-promotion.

Jampa Phuntsog (Chinese: Qiangpa Puncog), the governor of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), has admitted that China expects protests from Tibetans. In a press conference on 9 April he said: “I don’t doubt they will create trouble during the torch relay in Tibet”. Ominously, the governor went on to say "We will without doubt deal with these persons severely...we will not be merciful."

The Chinese authorities have shown they will use violent and lethal force to put down such protests. The international media widely reported Chinese paramilitary forces firing into crowds of peacefully protesting Tibetans and killing more than 10 Tibetans in Kardze town on 3 April. 
On 17 April, 100 Tibetan monks and lay people were beaten and detained in Rebkong County, just an hour away from Xining, where the torch is scheduled to be carried on 24 June. Overall, the authorities have now confirmed that at least 4,000 Tibetans have been detained. Tibet supporters understand that well over 100 have died.

On 19 April, Nepalese officials reported that soldiers and police have been authorized to shoot to stop any protests that might occur on the Nepali side of Mt. Everest when the torch ascent occurs. If Nepalese soldiers are licensed to use deadly force on people protesting China's Olympic Torch, Chinese soldiers will presumably have received orders at least as extreme. Meanwhile, a leaked memo from the International Olympic Committee makes it clear that the IOC knows that deaths may occur because of protests along the torch route within China (including Tibet), but advises officials to respond simply by expressing "deepest sympathies or condolences".

This failure by the IOC to act to prevent deaths, but merely to express condolences, is unacceptable.

Your letter of April 2 states that Coca-Cola is “the longest-standing sponsor of the Olympic Movement”. The undersigned groups are in no doubt, therefore, that Coca-Cola has huge influence upon the IOC and can use such influence to persuade the IOC to have Tibet removed from the Torch Relay.

We call upon Coca-Cola to use its influence to force the IOC to rescind its permission for the Olympic Torch to pass through Tibet. Failure to do so, provoking inevitable Tibetan protests and a violent crackdown by the Chinese authorities, will establish direct linkage between the Olympic Torch and further bloodshed in Tibet. In such circumstances the IOC and the Olympic Torch Relay sponsors would have Tibetan blood on their hands. Such a scenario would do untold harm to Coca-Cola’s brand and reputation and would lead to global protests outside Coca-Cola’s offices by exiled Tibetans and Tibet supporters.

We believe, therefore, that for both ethical and commercial reasons, Coca-Cola must bring its undoubted influence to bear upon the IOC to remove Tibet from the Torch Relay and, in so doing, prevent a further humanitarian disaster in Tibet.

We further hope you will agree to an urgent meeting with yourself, in order to convey to you personally the concerns of our member organizations and make a direct appeal that you act.

Yours sincerely
 
Alison Reynolds
On behalf of the Member Organizations of the International Tibet Support Network
North America:
Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina
Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Boston Tibet Network
Canada Tibet Committee
China Tibet Initiative
Colorado Friends of Tibet
Committee of 100 for Tibet
International Tibet Independence Movement
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet
Monadnock Friends of Tibet
Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association
Pasadena Friends of Tibet
Rangzen Alliance
San Diego Friends of Tibet
Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
Sierra Friends of Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet - Canada
The World Tibet Day Foundation
The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago
Tibet Committee of Fairbanks
Tibet Justice Center (formerly ICLT)
Tibetan American Resource Alliance
Tibetan Association of Santa Fe
Tibetan Cultural Association - Quebec
TIBETmichigan
Tibetech.org
Toronto Tibetan Youth Congress
U.S. Tibet Committee
Western Colorado Friends of Tibet
 
Central & South America:
Amigos de Tibet, Chile
Asociacion Cultural Peruano Tibetana
Casa Tibet Mexico
Comite Brasileiro DE Apoio Ao Tibet
Fundacion Pro Tibet - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Grupo De Apoyo a Tibet Chile
Pensando en Tibet Mexico
Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay
Salvadoran Friends of Tibet, El Salvador
Tibet Independiente, Chile
Tibetan-Costarican Cultural Association
 
Western Europe:
Aide aux Refugies Tibetains
Amici del Tibet-Friends of Tibet Italy
Association Dorje
Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet
Association Jamtse Thundel (France)
Association of Tibetans in Germany
Association Rangzen
Associazione Italia-Tibet
Austrian Committee for Tibet
Autodetermination Tibet, France
Briancon05 Urgence Tibet
C.S.P.T. Midi-Pyrenees Rencontres Tibetaines
Caisse d'Aide aux Prisonniers Tibetains
Casa del Tibet - Spain
Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (Madrid)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (CSPT)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Switzerland)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain Bretagne
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain de l'Herault
EcoTibet Ireland
Eco-Tibet France
Ewam Centre, Italy
France-Tibet
Free Tibet Campaign
Games of Beijing, Switzerland
Groupe Non-Violent Louis Lecoin, France
International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter
La Porte du Tibet, Geneva
Tibet Support Group Belgium – Les Amis du Tibet – Vrienden van Tibet
Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg
Lions Des Neiges
Lions Des Neiges Mont Blance, France
Maison des Himalayas
Maison du Tibet - Tibet Info
Nos Amis de l'Himalaya
Objectif Tibet
Passeport Tibetain
Reseau International des Femmes pour le Tibet
Rhone Tibet
Save Tibet, Austria
Society for Threatened Peoples International (Associate Member)
Solidarite Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet France
Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association
Tibet 59 / 62
Tibet Democratie
Tibet Initiative Deutschland
Tibet Libertes, France
Tibet Society, U.K.
Tibet Songtsen House, Switzerland
Tibet Support Group - Ireland
Tibet Support Group - Netherlands
Tibet Unterstutzung Liechtenstein
Tibetan Community Austria
Tibetan Community in Britain
Tibetan UN Advocacy, Switzerland
Tibetan Women's Association Switzerland
Tibetan Youth Association in Europe
Tibetisches Zentrum Hamburg
TSG Free Tibet And You
Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France
Urgence Tibet
Vercors Tibet Resistances
 
Northern Europe:
Friends of Tibet in Finland
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
Students for a Free Tibet Denmark
Swedish Tibet Committee
Tibet Friends Christiania
Tibet Support Committee Denmark
Tibetan Community in Denmark
Tibetan Community Sweden
 
Central & Eastern Europe:
Friends of Tibet Society St. Petersburg, Russia
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Tibet Desk (Associate Member)
Polish Movement for a Free Tibet
Tibetan Programme, Poland
Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship
The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia (Associate Member)
Lithuanian Tibet Culture Foundation
Tibet Support Association - Hungary
Tibet Support Group - Krasnodar Region, Russia
Tibet Support Group - Romania
Tibet Support Group - Slovenia
Tibet Support Group - Sochi Region, Russia
Tibetan Programme - The Other Space Foundation (Associate Member)
Zida Cels, Latvia
 
Asia:
All India Students Forum for Free Tibet
Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India
Core Group for the Tibetan Cause
Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H. H. the Dalai Lama
Friedrich-Naumann Foundation (Associate Member)
Friends for Tibet and Tibetans - Delhi
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet
Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet
India Tibet Friendship Society
India Society for Tibetan Community
Mahatma Gandhi Tibet Freedom Movement, India
National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India
Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia
Tibet Lives, India
Tibet Solidarity Forum, Bangladesh
Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan
Tibet Support Network Japan (TSNJ)
Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre (TPPRC) Delhi
Tibetan Women's Association (Central)
Tibetan Youth Congress
 
Australasia:
Australia Tibet Council
Friends of Tibet New Zealand
Students for a Free Tibet New Zealand
Tibetan Community of Australia (Victoria)
 
Africa & the Middle East:
Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People
Tibet Support Group Kenya 
 

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