Harvard Student Reprimanded For Outcry During Chinese Premier�s Speech


2004-01-14
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Harvard University has reprimanded undergraduate Megan Howard for shouting pro-Tibetan slogans during a speech there by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, RFA�s Tibetan service reports.

At a hearing this week, Howard said, she presented her case, answered questions, and waited for a decision by the disciplinary panel. �I also printed out all of the e-mails to show the committee and explain to them that I have never been a troublemaker and what I did was for the cause of Tibetans,� Howard said.

Once the panel made its decision, Howard �received an e-mail saying they decided to admonish me, that they will put a letter ... in my file. That means if I apply for a job, they might see my file. It�s nothing serious.�

During Wen�s Dec. 11 speech, Howard shouted �Tibet is for the Tibetan people. We will never stop fighting. I am the voice for those in Tibet who cannot speak.�

After her outburst�which drew a rebuke from university president Lawrence Summers�Howard was told to sit down. Eventually she left with the police and reiterated that she probably wouldn�t face serious consequences.

�I was worried about being put on probation or getting suspended. But at the same time, I was thinking that this is America, where we have freedom of speech. It would be unfair for them to do anything to me. I care about Tibetans and was prepared for the consequences,� she said.

Howard said after her hearing, she was greeted by several Tibetans waiting for her outside the building, offering her a letter of support with more than 100 signatures. �That was really kind and I was grateful for their support," she said.

Howard visited Tibet in August 1999 at age 16. She said she had received many phone calls and e-mails from Tibetans worldwide who thanked her for speaking up on their behalf.

Wen spoke at Harvard on the final leg of his four-day official visit to the United States in December, calling for mutual respect among different cultures.

"The civilizations of different nations are all fruits of human wisdom and contribution to human progress,� he said. "Conflicts triggered by ignorance or prejudice are sometimes more dreadful than those caused by contradictory interests... We propose to seek common ground in the spirit of equality and tolerance, and carry on extensive inter-civilization dialogue and closer cultural exchanges."

Human rights groups and Western observers routinely criticize Beijing for its heavy-handed treatment of Tibetans in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and elsewhere in western China.#####

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