China Detains Six For Tibet Great Wall Protest

2007-08-08
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greatwallbanner200.jpg
The banner unfurled. Photo: Students for a Free Tibet

WASHINGTON--China has detained a group of activists after they unfurled a banner calling for a Free Tibet from China's Great Wall ahead of a countdown ceremony for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, a U.S.-based campaign group said.

"There was a team of six that went to Great Wall of China and hung a banner off the wall with two climbers," Lhadon Tethong, head of the Students for Free Tibet group told RFA's Tibetan service.

The 20-foot (six meter) long banner was emblazoned with the words: "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008".

Security rushed in

They wanted to send the message that until China leaves Tibet and stop abuse of human rights there, Tibet issue will remain a painful and embarrassing reminder, always coming up through protests and things like this around the Olympics.

"Then Chinese security personnel swarmed in, and at this point in time we don’t know much, other then that they were detained," she said.

Lhadon Tethong, who is in Beijing for the ceremony, said the protest was aimed at highlighting China's presence in Tibet and human rights abuses there ahead of Beijing's hosting of the Olympics next year.

"They wanted to send the message that until China leaves Tibet and stop abuse of human rights there, Tibet issue will remain a painful and embarrassing reminder, always coming up through protests and things like this around the Olympics," Lhadon Tethong said.

But she said the news had been censored, with few people within China likely to hear of it.

"Last night CNN ran some story about the protests but screen went blank," she said.

"Everything is censored here...The main event will be [Tuesday] in Tiananmen Square when the countdown ceremony is to take place with about 200 representatives from all over the world."

Lhadon Tethon called on the Chinese authorities to deal responsibly with the detained group of activists, who comprised one British man, two American women, an American man and two Canadians, who were the climbers.

"At this point the main thing for the Chinese to realize is that whole world is watching them," Lhadon Tethong said.

The six protesters were: Climbers Melanie Raoul and Sam Price from Vancouver, Canada, U.S. citizens Leslie Kaup of St Paul, Minnesota, Nupur Modi of Oakland, California and Duane Martinez of Sausalito, California, and Pete Speller of Cambridge, UK.

Beijing officials say they have plans for the Olympic torch to cross Tibet after ascending the southern slope of Mount Everest (in Chinese, Qomalangma).

In April, China deported five U.S. citizens after they unfurled similar banners at an Everest base camp.

Original reporting by RFA's Tibetan service. Director: Jigme Ngapo. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Karma Dorjee.

Original reporting in Tibetan

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