Wednesday, August 06, 2008
TORCH, FREE TIBET ARRIVE IN BEIJING; PRESS FREEDOM DOUBTED; GENOCIDE INVESTIGATED
ree Tibet got there first, with two 140 square foot banners flown at dawn from light poles next to the Olympic stadium, just hours before the arrival of Beijing's torch of harmony. Four activists, two British and two Americans, were immediately detained by Chinese security forces.
Iain Thom of Edinburgh, Scotland raised the banner pictured here, which reads, "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet." Phill Bartell of Boulder, Colorado raised a banner reading, "Tibet Will Be Free," and the Chinese characters for "Free Tibet." Lucy Fairbrother of Cambridge, UK and Tirian Mink of Portland, Oregon were also arrested.
The two climbers each carried the Tibetan flag during their mission, erroneously reported by AP as "the flag of the Dalai Lama's exiled Tibetan government." Note to news organisations: The famous snow lion flag is not the flag of a government, it's the flag of a country. It was used by that country for many years before the communists invaded and militarily occupied it.
The spokesman for the Beijing Olympics Committee was not answering his phone this morning, and the Public Security Bureau had no comment. The action was carried out by Students for a Free Tibet, whose director Lhadon Tethong reminded reporters that the Chinese crackdown in Tibet is continuing today (three months after most of the international media stopped paying attention to it).
"At this moment the Tibetans inside Tibet are brutally and violently being crushed by Chinese authorities," Tethong said. "It's absolutely critical that ... a message is sent to the Chinese government to meaningfully address and end violence and repression in Tibet or they will never be truly accepted by the international community."The latest assurances given by Beijing on press freedom during the Games have been cast into serious doubt by the beatings of two Japanese journalists covering Monday's attack on the paramilitary security forces in Kashgar.
Shinji Katsuta, a reporter for Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television Network Corp., said he and Shinzou Kawakita, a photographer from the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, were grabbed by police late Monday and held for about two hours at a security facility.The Japanese government plans to lodge a "strong protest" with China over the incident. Xinjiang's top police official apologized for his mens' violence, while claiming that the reporters were "forcing their way into a military area." This "military area" is of course a public street in Kashgar, in front of a small hotel. The BBC's James Reynolds sent a video report from the spot yesterday, apparently after his own run-in with the law.
"My face was pushed into the ground, my arm was twisted and I was hit two or three times in the face," Katsuta said in a telephone interview broadcast by his station.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said Kawakita had described being surrounded by paramilitary police, lifted off the floor by his arms and legs, kicked and then pinned to the floor by an officer's boot on his face.
"This is utterly unacceptable any time. It's particularly reprehensible just days before the Olympics at a time when China has promised complete media freedom," said Jonathan Watts, the foreign correspondent club's chairman and a correspondent for the Guardian newspaper in Britain.
A Spanish court has accepted an extension to an ongoing investigation, which began in 2006, into the genocidal policies of China in Tibet. Testimony from three Buddhist monks, including Palden Gyatso, was heard in May. The newly accepted lawsuit denounces the new wave of oppression which began on March 10 this year, showing that "acts of genocide continue to be committed against the Tibetan people." In addition to Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, six other Chinese officials are named.
Other Chinese officials named in the suit were Minister for State Security Geng Huichang, Communist Party Secretary in Tibet Zhang Qingli, Politburo member Wang Lequan, Ethnic Affairs Commission head Li Dezhu, People's Liberation Army Commander in Lhasa General Tong Guishan and Zhang Guihua, political commissar in the Chengdu military command.The complaint was filed by Spain's Tibet Support Committee and two other Tibetan groups.