Graffiti for Tibet

Stand Up For Tibet

This is a picture from graffiti made today in Zurich, Switzerland. Here’s a description of what happened today at the event, which was put on by the Tibetan Youth Association of Europe.

On the occasion of the global day of action, friends and members of Tibetan Youth Association Europe held a huge graffiti event in Zurich, Switzerland. There were street-artists from different countries working the whole day and after having finished the main-piece, a 30m long graffiti with the slogan “stand up for Tibet”, the spectators could leave their own message on the wall. Many supporters and media people were present – the idea behind was to encourage the swiss people, especially the young ones, to get active and to show, that everyone can leave a message, which will be heard, seen, read. More pics will be uploaded soon on our website:

You can see more pics from Zurich here.

China’s Torch Repeatedly Visits Lhasa

If there was any doubt about the hopes China has for using the Olympic torch as a tool to validate their control over Tibet, one need look no farther than the route the Olympic flame is now taking. Jim Yardley of the NY Times reports:

President Hu Jintao of China waved the Olympic torch at a ceremony in Tiananmen Square on Monday, smiling broadly as balloons, streamers and confetti rose into a mostly blue sky.

Then came the uncertain part. Mr. Hu sent the torch on a 130-day journey around the globe where protests and controversy likely await. First stop on what Beijing is calling a “Journey of Harmony” will be Lhasa, the Tibetan capital still simmering from violent anti-government protests

Earlier on Monday morning, the Olympic flame arrived in Beijing from Athens on board a specially outfitted Air China jetliner decorated with golden flames. This week, the Olympic flame is actually being split into two torches. One will be flown on Tuesday to Almaty, Kazakhstan, to begin an international relay that will cover five continents, including one stop in the United States in San Francisco.

The other torch is being flown to Lhasa and then taken to a base camp below Mount Everest. There, the flame is expected to be stored in a special lantern until May, when a team of climbers — escorted by two specially trained cameramen for Chinese state television — will attempt to carry the burning torch to the summit of the world’s highest mountain and then back down. By then, the international relay should be completed and the two torches will be reunited into one in Lhasa to begin a tour through the Chinese mainland that concludes in Beijing at the opening of the Games on Aug. 8. [Emphasis added]

As far as I can tell from the relay route, other than Beijing, the Olympic torch will spend more time in Lhasa than any other city in the rest of the world. The torch will be inside Tibet, either in Lhasa or at Mount Everest, for the duration of the international tour of the second flame. The only explanation for bringing the torch to Tibet and bringing it to Lhasa is that China wants to world to see it as the definition of their control over Tibet. The fact that there is an uprising going on in Tibet does not matter – China will use the torch as a stamp of approval and them make sure the whole world knows that they control Tibet.

Take action to oppose the torch route through Tibet.

China Torch Smackdown

The No Torch In Tibet campaign has launched, complete with a petition to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge asking him to withdraw Tibet from the Olympic torch relay route.

Get the Facebook Application here.

Use ClearSpring to embed or social bookmark the Torch Smackdown animation. I already started with some posts. Digg it here and here. Reddit here.

This is obviously a very powerful animation and one that clearly represents the Chinese brutality that is being approved by running the Olympic torch through Tibet. You can get the code to put it on your blog and help it go viral at

Time To Hear from Jacques Rogge

Today’s LA Times includes a column by Philip Hersh, who calls on International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge to respond to growing sentiment among world leaders and Olympic athletes alike that the Beijing games are creating a political problem that demand attention from the IOC. Hersh writes in response to Dutch swimmer Pieter van den Hoogenband’s request for Rogge to put forward a statement from the IOC that addresses China’s more-apparent-than-ever human rights abuses:

Yes, this mixes politics and the Olympics, but that is nothing new. Remember the IOC’s admirable decision to ban South Africa because its Olympic committee hewed to the politics of South African governments who legislated racial discrimination?

The 2001 decision to give the Games to China was largely political and commercial, even if the technical quality of its bid was unquestionably excellent.

It was about giving the IOC’s global sponsors a chance to ingrain themselves in the Chinese market and about allowing the world’s most populous country to loom even larger on the global stage.

So, Jacques, you can keep defying common sense by saying the IOC is not a political organization.

How about an irrelevant one?

Hersh is right. Common sense tells us that the IOC is a political organization and the Olympics have been a political event, at least since the 1936 Games in Nazi Germany. It was there that the concept of touring the torch first took hold, as Hitler paraded the Olympic flame in an effort to glorify the Nazi regime. Now we see the Beijing government plan to run the Olympic torch up Mount Everest and through Tibet as a means of validating their military occupation. Organizations that side with dictatorships and totalitarian governments’ efforts to repress people and prevent freedom tend to end up in the same place as those foul governments – in the dustbin of history. Rogge’s silence in the face of requests from athletes, governments, and Tibetans only solidifies the perception of him and the IOC as blindly subservient to the needs and desires of the Chinese government. In that sense, his actions, as Hersh suggests, make the IOC irrelevant. If they will not embrace their political power, then they must be seen as having no power at all.

McCain’s Illegal Campaign

Jane Hamsher points to a Boston Globe article that looks at how perceived campaign finance guru John McCain  is  engaging in illegal campaigning that gives lie to his reputation. Unfortunately the Globe article, by Susan Milligan, fails to fully grasp how clearly in the wrong McCain is. Jane rightly points to this line:

During the Republican primaries, McCain took out a $4 million line of credit for his then-flagging campaign, using the promise of federal matching funds as collateral. But after his candidacy rebounded, he never actually accepted the federal funds, allowing him to raise and spend more private money.

This looks to me like an instance where a reporter starts down the right path when describing a story, but, upon arriving at the rub that makes McCain look bad, turns back and toes his campaign’s line on what happened and why he’s not actually in trouble.

I also think it’s worth remembering that while McCain has a reputation for being a proponent of campaign finance reform, the presidential matching funds system predates McCain’s entry into Congress by many, many years. As such, it’s not that McCain is flip-flopping by violating legislation that he helped author. Instead, he’s just simply breaking the law by campaigning in large excess past the caps set for a candidate in the matching funds system.

This is an important distinction because the charge of flip-flopping or hypocrisy concedes that McCain has a reputation as a campaign finance reformer. As we’re likely to hear a lot of that from the press both in this story and throughout the campaign, I’d be happier to not reinforce that narrative and just focus on the fact that he’s breaking a law that he played no role in passing.

Activist Media Porn

The Globe and Mail Front Page on SFTers
Above: Three kick ass activists who don’t have time to smile

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national paper, had a huge, front page, above the fold article yesterday on three Canadian women who have been at the forefront of the Tibetan independence movement through Students for a Free Tibet: Kate Woznow, Freya Putt, and SFT’s Executive Director Lhadon Tethong. I had the privilege of working on staff at SFT with all three of these magnificent ladies for two years and am really happy to see them get this kind of recognition for their persistent leadership on behalf of Tibet. All three have taken part in nonviolent direct actions for Tibet in Beijing and continue to lead the global campaign to make Tibet the front and center issue as the Beijing Olympics approach. Go read the full article, as the full scope of its awesomeness doesn’t lend itself well to excerpting.