China Jails American Activists
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The organization Students for a Free Tibet, which has been staging actions throughout the Beijing Olympics to bring the spotlight on the Tibetan freedom movement has given the latest update:
Just hours ago in Beijing, SFT members Alice Speller and Ginger Cassady held an open-air press conference where they spoke about the Chinese government's ongoing crackdown in Tibet. They vowed that even after the Olympic spotlight moves on from Beijing, the global movement for Tibetan freedom will continue until China ends its brutal military occupation of Tibet.
With two more days left to go before the end of the Beijing Olympics, the two Tibet supporters declared the protest campaign in Beijing a success and spoke of the resolve of Tibetans and supporters globally to continue to press the Chinese leadership for meaningful change. At this moment, they are being followed by over 20 plainclothes police.
On Wednesday night, after being followed for hours by over 50 under-cover police, Florian Norbu Gyanatshang, a Tibetan-German man, and three supporters were detained -- but not before they spoke out for Tibet near the Bird's Nest stadium. The activists called out 'Free Tibet' as Florian Norbu unfurled the Tibetan flag and two other supporters raised their fists in the spirit of defiance and resistance displayed by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The protest took place as spectators were leaving the Bird's Nest where the men's 200 meter final had been held just hours before.
The Beijing police are also detaining six American "citizen journalists and activists" who "traveled to China during the Games to ensure that the voices of dissent in Beijing were heard by the world," according to SFT.
These activists are hoping to amplify the voices of Tibetans working for freedom and human rights.
We recognize that ten days in jail pales in comparison to the fate of Tibetans and Chinese who dare to speak out for freedom. However, we categorically reject the validity of the detentions of the ten activists and Tibet supporters being held in Beijing, as well as the notion that the expression or documentation of a person's view is a punishable offense, and we immediately call for the release of those detained.
You can demand their release by calling the Chinese foreign ministry: +86-10-65961114
As SFT UK's former national coordinator Alice Speller said to reporters in Beijing just hours ago, "This is not the end of our campaign, this is only the beginning."
You can learn more and get involved in the movement to free to Tibet here.
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.