July 02, 2006

Free Tibet Activists arrested in Beijing for protesting China's Tibet railway

Tibet activists scaled the façade of Beijing’s Central Railway Station and unfurled a banner reading “China’s Tibet Railway: Designed to Destroy." The protest was held on the eve of the launch of the new rail line that will link, for the first time, Beijing and Lhasa. Tibetans fear that the Chinese Government will use the railway to further its colonization of Tibet by moving in ever-larger numbers of Chinese settlers and military personnel while transporting out Tibet’s vast natural resources. Police detained three women from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom; their whereabouts remain unknown.

"China's Tibet railway has been engineered to destroy the very fabric of Tibetan identity,” said Lhadon Tethong, the Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. "China plans to use the railway to transport Chinese settlers directly into the heart of Tibet in order to overwhelm the Tibetan population and tighten its stranglehold over our people. We will continue to take action to defend Tibetan culture and today's protest is but a preview of what China can expect as we approach the 2008 Beijing Olympics."

Hu Jintao, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and former Party Secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, will officially open the railway on July 1st in Golmud – an eastern Tibetan town and starting point for the newly extended 1,200 km line to Lhasa. Chinese authorities claim the railway will bring economic development to Tibet while Tibetans hold that the true motivation is consolidation of China's political control of the region. Tibetans fear that the railway will facilitate the entry of large numbers of Chinese settlers into Tibet, further marginalizing Tibetans socially and economically, bolster China's military strength in the region, and cause irreparable damage to Tibet’s high-altitude ecosystem. Many Tibetans see the railway as the final phase in China's plan to wipe out Tibetan identity and culture.

"The Chinese government openly admits its political motivation for this project," said Matt Whitticase, Campaign Spokesperson for Free Tibet Campaign. “The completion of the railway marks the realization of Mao’s dream to assimilate Tibet into China. Through our global day of action we hope to expose this reality and give voice to Tibetans inside Tibet who are not free to speak out in opposition to this devastating project."

A Tibetan news website* based in India has posted statements from Tibetan refugees recently-arrived in Nepal testifying to their concerns about the railway. Yamphel from Rebkong County says, "The Railway has become a matter of concern for all Tibetans, when older generation passes away, younger generations would be converted into Chinese."

Tibetans and their supporters will hold protests worldwide on July 1st to denounce the launch of the railway. The "Reject the Railway" campaign will see protests at Chinese embassies and consulates in major cities around the world, including Ottawa, New York, London, and Dharamsala, India. Tibetans in exile are wearing black armbands to symbolize their resistance to the railway and China's ongoing occupation of Tibet and to show their solidarity with Tibetans suffering under Chinese rule. Tibetan shopkeepers and restaurants in Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, will close their businesses on July 1st in support of the "Reject the Railway" campaign.


(1) Katie Mallin, 34, from London works for Free Tibet Campaign

(2) Omi Hodwitz is a 29-year old Canadian woman from rural eastern British Columbia. After graduating high school, she went to work for Greenpeace, serving on the Rainbow Warrior and climbing in many dramatic protest actions to defend the environment and speak up for human rights. She is a senior Action Climbing Trainer who teaches nonviolent activists the safe and effective use of nonviolent direct action. She has worked with Students for a Free Tibet since 1998. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours in Criminology from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.

(3) Kathy Ni Keefe, a 36 year-old American woman, began her activism in 1990 by joining Parisian students in a sit-in under the Eiffel Tower to protest the first Gulf War. She returned to the U.S. and began working with Greenpeace and The Ruckus Society on environmental and human rights campaigns. Kathy first joined up with SFT in 1998, teaching nonviolence and climbing workshops at Free Tibet! Action Camps, and working on the direct action protests that helped stop the World Bank from funding China's population transfer project. Kathy currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Contact: Matt Whitticase, Free Tibet Campaign (Hong Kong) +852 614-77073
Lhadon Tethong, Students for a Free Tibet (Hong Kong) +852 614-54902

*Read the statements on June 29 news section of Phayul.com


Blogger Candy Minx said...

This is so sad and disturbing and thank you once again for alerting me to these powerful news stories!


Sunday, July 02, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home