TIBET ACTIVISTS HANG BANNER, BLOCKADE BEIJING’S ‘CHINESE ETHNIC CULTURE PARK’ – TIBETAN WOMAN DETAINED ALONG WITH SEVEN OTHERS
August 13, 2008 · Print This Article
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 13, 2008
Contacts: In Asia, Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director, and Kate Woznow, Campaigns Director,
+1 917-289-0228 or +44 2070-846-359
***Photos and video footage of the action and the activists’ bios will be available shortly at: http://freetibet2008.org/globalactions/ethnicpark/
Beijing – Five Tibet activists blockaded the front entrance of the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, at the south end of the Olympic Park, at 12:30pm today. The five were behind locked bicycles across the entrance to the park, which prominently features an exhibit of Tibetan culture. They wore t-shirts reading “Free Tibet” and held a banner reading “Tibetans Are Dying for Freedom.” A sixth activist, a Tibetan-Japanese woman, made a statement about what they were doing and the situation on the ground in Tibet. Nearby, two other activists unfurled a banner over a pedestrian bridge, which read “Free Tibet.”
The two activists at the bridge were immediately detained by security officials. The six outside the park were detained after approximately five minutes. The activists are: Pema Yoko, 25, a Tibetan-Japanese woman resident in the UK; Americans Tom Cohen, 41; Martin Thomas, 36; Jennifer Kirby, 30; Jene DeSpain, 31; James Brady, 41; Bani Campozano, 20; and Jonathan Fox, 29, an Israeli-American. Their present whereabouts are unknown.
Construction for the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park began in 1992 when Beijing bid for the 2000 Olympics. A key priority for the Chinese government in its Olympics propaganda has been to portray a picture of harmony between Han Chinese and Tibetans, as well as Chinese minority groups. The Culture Park is a tool in the Chinese government’s attempt to convince Chinese citizens as well as the rest of the world of the legitimacy of its rule in Tibet.
“The Chinese government is actively waging an Olympics propaganda campaign to showcase Tibet as legitimately theirs and Tibetans as happy under Chinese rule, but the reality is much different,” said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “While Tibetan song and dance is on display in Beijing, in Tibet, our culture is under siege and our people are being forcibly kept from speaking out about their repression at the hands of the Chinese authorities.”
As part of this crackdown, there has been a dramatic increase of troops in sensitive areas in eastern Tibet. Two Tibetan women were shot last Saturday, August 9th, in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba, Sichuan). One was injured in the hand and one in the leg; they are currently in the Ngaba County Civil Hospital. Since August 3rd, troops have increased from 2,000 in the town and surrounding area to 10,000 in the town alone. On March 16th, Chinese paramilitary troops fired into a crowd of peaceful protesting Tibetans in Ngaba, killing up to 13 according to eyewitnesses.
Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is a network of young people and activists campaigning for Tibetan independence, with 700 chapters in more than thirty countries worldwide. SFT’s international headquarters are in New York, with offices in Toronto, London, and Dharamsala, India.