Students for a Free Tibet condemns the International Olympic Committee’s hypocrisy as Beijing 2022 set to officially receive the Olympic Torch.
***High Res photos available at http://bit.ly/SFTMedia123; interviews with action participants and movement leaders on request
HAPPENING NOW: ATHENS – Tibetan and Hongkonger activists staged a protest at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, where in just 48 hours, the Olympic Torch will be officially handed over to the Beijing 2022 Committee.
At 9:30 am, the activists waved the Tibetan flag and Hong Kong’s revolution flag atop the historical monument, chanting “Boycott Beijing 2022” and “Free Tibet” as Greek authorities promptly confiscated their flag. Displaying the Tibetan national flag is banned in Tibet by the Chinese government and is punishable by arrest and even torture. Within minutes, at least two dozen police arrived at the scene. The student activists were detained by the Greek police and taken away without a formal arrest at this time.
The activists, 18-year-old Tibetan student Tsela Zoksang and 22-year-old Hong Kong exiled-activist, Joey Siu, are members of the ‘No Beijing 2022’ cross-movement campaign working with Tibetan, Uyghur, Hong Kong, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Mongolian human rights activists. The coalition is demanding the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reverse its mistake in awarding Beijing the honor of hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2022. Despite appeals from frontline communities and human rights groups, the IOC has repeatedly ignored the evidence of the egregious human rights abuses by China including a genocide of the Uyghur people, the brutal and illegal occupation of Tibet, and the severe and worsening crackdown against freedom and democracy in Hong Kong.
As of 10:15AM Athens time, the activists are still detained by the Greek police. Stay tuned for more updates.
Personal statement from the detained activists:
Tsela Zoksang, an 18-year-old Tibetan-American activist with Students for a Free Tibet, said: “The IOC’s decision to award the Winter Olympics to China is a clear endorsement of the Chinese Communist Party’s extreme and brutal human rights abuses towards Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Hongkongers. Tibetans in Tibet, my people, live in daily fear under China’s brutal and illegal occupation; facing arrest and torture for simply calling for basic rights and freedoms. The IOC – Thomas Bach and Juan Samaranch – know full well what is happening but they have chosen money over human dignity. So now it is time for the international community, and all people of conscience, to take a stand and boycott Beijing 2022; anything less will be a clear endorsement of China’s genocidal regime.”
Joey Siu, an exiled 22-year-old Hong Kong activist, said: “I am a Hong Kong activist and I cannot return to my homeland. Taking this nonviolent direct action today is bittersweet as in Hong Kong, if I protested in this way, I would face unpredictable, lengthy jail time, or worse. As we shared our message today, my heart was with all my friends that are being unjustly persecuted in Hong Kong. By awarding the Chinese government the honor of hosting an Olympic Games yet again, the IOC is sending the world a message that it is ok to turn a blind eye to genocide and crimes against humanity in Hong Kong, Tibet, East Turkestan, and Southern Mongolia. We must stand together to oppose Beijing 2022.”
For additional updates, visual requests, and interviews:
Jacob Kessler: Jacob@studentsforafreetibet.org, +1 516-776-6472 (Signal & WhatsApp)