Dalai Lama calls on supporters to stage peaceful protests during the Olympics:

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Dalai Lama has called on Tibetans and their supporters to protest peacefully during this yea's Beijing Olympics against China's worsening human rights abuses in Tibet. His comments came in an exclusive interview given to British broadcaster, ITV News, on Thursday 17 January.(1)
The remarks on protests were not included on screen and were reported by ITV. Free Tibet Campaign, which helped ITV obtain important pictures shown in the film, has obtained a transcript of the interview:

Asked by ITV's China correspondent, John Ray, whether supporters of Tibet "should be allowed to express, in China, at the time of the Olympics, in a peaceful way, their support for the people of Tibet" the Dalai Lama responded that peaceful protests would be justified in order to bring the Tibetan issue to the attention of the Chinese public:

It is worthwhile to remind. I think the (Chinese) government knows that, but the Chinese people sometimes may not realize the problem. So I think it is worthwhile. So in the eyes of millions of Chinese I think worthwhile to remind them there's a problem. That I think is very important."(2)

Asked if now was the best time for peaceful protest, the Dalai Lama responded: "I think so."

Asked if the situation is better or worse in Tibet since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded Beijing the 2008 Games, the Dalai Lama responded without hesitation that the situation is "certainly worse."

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said: The IOC has had seven years to act on China's abysmal failure to improve its human rights record. Instead it has remained silent. The Beijing Olympics are now destined, rightly, to be known as the Games of Shame. Anyone who cares about human rights abuses in Tibet - and in China - should heed the Dalai Lama's call for peaceful protest. The world is entitled to see the oppressive Chinese regime for what it really is."

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(1) The interview can be seen below:

(2) It is interesting that the Dalai Lama should raise this. Free Tibet Campaign often hears from Tibetans living in exile about conversations they've had with Chinese citizens abroad. It is not uncommon that the Chinese citizens begin by believing what they have been told: that Tibet was a feudal society before it was brought back into the motherland and that Tibetans have benefited enormously from modernisation. By the time Tibetans explain their history and what has been going on in their country since the occupation, most of the Chinese with whom they are conversing say, apologetically, that they had no idea. So it makes sense that the Dalai Lama sees the Olympics as an opportunity to educate the Chinese people about the real situation.

For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
Or call on +44 (0) 207 324 4605/+44 (0)7515 788 456