Scottish Protests over the Beijing Olympics
A synopsis of the April 2008 events and campaigns
In 2001 we wrote to the Olympic Committee that the 2008 Olympics should not take place in Beijing because of their continuing oppression of the people of Tibet. Now that it is taking place, however, we would support H.H. the Dalai Lama in his view that the Games should go ahead. That said, the Olympic Torch World Relay gives an opportunity to draw the world's attention to the suffering of Tibetans under Chinese rule. In the West we can demonstrate over abuses of human rights. Protests by Tibetans in their own country have been harshly put down while at the same time the world's press has been barred from entering Tibet and reporting on what is happening. In April we initiated and took part in a number of events to demonstrate our support for the recent protests in Tibet and to do all we could to influence public and political opinion.
Tuesday April 1st, Aberdeen: Illustrated Talk: 'THE TIBETAN PROTEST MOVEMENT'
Dr. Martin Mills, Tibetologist, University of Aberdeen and a member of our Group, presented an in-depth explanation of the protests by Tibetans and the response by the Chinese forces.
Friday April 4th, Edinburgh: SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT. RECEPTION FOR THE SINGING NUNS
Fourteen nuns -known worldwide as the 'Singing Nuns' of Tibet- who were imprisoned in Drapchi Prison in Lhasa in the 1990s had had their sentences extended when, in 1993, they smuggled out a recording of freedom songs they had sung in prison. One of the nuns died in prison but the others have now been released. Four of the nuns, Gyaltsen Drolkar, Phuntsok Nyidron, Namdrol Lhamo and Ngawang Sangdrol toured the UK in March, and attended a reception in their honour by the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Tibet. Interviews with the press followed outside the Parliament.
On Friday 4th April in Edinburgh, a march was organised to support the protests against the CCP's Olympic Torch Relay, which was at that time passing through London. The march was headed by the Singinhg Nuns, and took a route along the Royal Mile to the Castle. The turnout was good, and a great deal of support was shown by the Edinburgh public. Notably, the Edinburgh chinese community put on their own tit-for-tat march, which we supsect was funded by the local consulate. Their flags weren't nearly as artistic as ours, though, in fact I reckon those plain red rags might be seen as as antagonistic by any bulls in the vicinity. ;-)
That evening, the Singing Nuns gave a performance of the protest songs which they had recorded in Drapchi Prison.
Saturday 5th April, Aberdeen: CAMPAIGN STALL
As part of our contribution to the protests over the holding of the Olympic Games in China and the relay of the Olympic Torch through London on Sunday 6th April, we set up a campaign stall in Aberdeen where people were invited to sign a petition asking the Prime Minister,first, to urge the Chinese Government to negotiate with H.H. the Dalai Lama, secondly to cease their repression of Tibetans and, thirdly, to allow journalists free access to Tibet during the run up to the Olympics and during the Games.
Sunday 6th April, London: OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY
The Olympic Torch was taken through London as part of a world wide relay. In London, Paris and San Francisco there were major demonstrations by supporters of Tibet.
For the Tibetans, these protests beginning in their own country, have been a major success in drawing world attention to the iniquities of the Chinese regime in Tibet. It finally persuaded a reluctant prime minister, Gordon Brown, to publicly agree to meet with the Dalai Lama. Elsewhere, world leaders have expressed their disgust with the way the Tibetans have been treated. Both the European's Slovenian President, Hans-Gert Poettering, and the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, have openly proposed boycotting the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. Whether pressure on the Chinese government will continue during the Games is at present an unanswerable question. There is, however, a distinct possibility that, once the Games are over, Tibet will be forgotten again, a possibility the Chinese government will be undoubtedly be counting on. Please support us after the Games are finished, in the months and, perhaps, the years to come.