Activism, Notable Links, World

Beijing Wide Open

A good friend of mine, Paul Golding — whom I worked with at Free Tibet Campaign — has had quite an adventure this week. I am happy to report that he is safe in Hong Kong, with the other seven ‘Free Tibet’ activists. This was not so this morning when I took a look at the latest project he’s been involved in. Apparently he’s been away in Beijing working alongside Lhadon Tethong who ‘travelled to the heart of the nation that has brutally occupied her homeland for over 50 years.‘ Paul sent a text to ali from China a little over a week ago with the web address for Beijing Wide Open so that we could learn about his current post. He recently left Free Tibet Campaign, after nearly eleven years of dedication to the campaign, with even more to the cause.

There was no coincidence for their trip, today begins the one year countdown to the Beijing Olympics 2008. While China prepared to celebrate in Tiananmen Square, Free Tibet activists held peaceful protests outside the Chinese Embassy here in London. Back in Beijing Paul and Lhadon were being put into detainment, after having been followed all week by at least a dozen plain clothed police. They were kept from attending and reporting from the kick-off ceremony in Tiananmen Square and later flown to safety in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, six other people of conscience staged a peaceful protest by hanging a banner from the Great Wall reading: “One World. One Dream. Free Tibet” [“One World, One Dream” is the motto for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.] The activists —from Canada, the US and Britain– called for an independent Tibet, and claimed the International Olympic Committee was not holding China accountable for human rights abuses. Activists say China is using the Olympics to try to legitimise its claims on Tibet, which it says it has ruled for centuries – a fact many Tibetans dispute. [Read the full article: BBC World ]

While I was volunteering at Free Tibet Campaign, my mom asked me why the plight of the Tibetan people was so important to me. I remember first hearing a Tibetan woman speak in a small auditorium while I was studying at Hope College. She had been a political prisoner in Tibet. The things she recounted while she spoke were unbelievable. Years later I found myself visiting Tibetan communities in Nepal and India. Recently, until June 2007, I was volunteering for Free Tibet Campaign in London. The cause has stayed with me and one of the reasons it has become so important to me is because it is being pursued in a non-violent manner. I believe in non-violence when solving conflict and I believe the impact it would have on the world were this conflict to be solved in a peaceful way, would be far greater than the wars being fought around the world each day.

If these human rights abuses could be put to an end; if the Tibetan people were given autonomy in Tibet; if the Dalai Lama was allowed to visit his homeland; if the Panchen Lama was freed or his whereabouts even known; if each of these things was able to happen without a war, but with non-violent action, how would that impact the world today?