24-Hour Tibetan Hunger strike and Peace March to close out the Beijing Winter Olympic Games
19 February 2022
Tibetan Community of Victoria
0470 520 857
Tibetan Community of Victoria
0469 875 975
24-hour hunger strike PROTEST (Starts Saturday)
Where: Chinese Consulate Victoria,|
When: Saturday 19 Feb 2022 from 12 noon until Sunday 20 February 2022 12 noon
Tibetan Community PEACE MARCH (Sunday)
Where: Federation Square at 10.30 am marching to Chinese Consulate
When: Sunday 20 February 2022
Protesting Closing Ceremony Beijing Winter Olympics 2022
Members of the Tibetan Community in Victoria are staging a 24-hour hunger strike and peace march to protest the closing ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
“These games have gone ahead in Beijing while our families in Tibet are suffering oppression and human rights violations,” says Tenzin* of the Tibetan Community of Victoria, “To see the world focusing on sport – while inside Tibet, Tibetans are being arrested for peaceful protest, while there are so many Tibetan political prisoners – is so hurtful.”
During the games, reports have been emerging of a continued crackdown on Tibetans – already deemed by Freedom House as being the least free country in the world in 2021 – with Chinese authorities demanding that Tibetans download spyware onto their phones that allows the monitoring of all the contact Tibetans have with the outside world.
“We can’t contact our families – it puts them in danger,” says Dorjie* of the Tibetan Community of Victoria, “I have not been able to call my family in Tibet – everything they say or message to us is watched by China, and just being in contact with us can get them arrested.”
Authorities began ramping up security measures and restrictions in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, and other towns and villages before the start of the games, said Ngawang Woebar, a former political prisoner now residing in Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile and the home of the Dalai Lama. “Chinese authorities have not even spared the most remote Tibetan areas for that matter, and Chinese police have been threatening and searching their cell phone data for sensitive information, specifically contact from the exile community,” he said.
Reports are reaching Tibetan communities that authorities have been targeting former political prisoners while the Olympics are in progress, summoning them to police stations for questioning on a daily basis.
“Tibetans in Australia have been concerned about this for years,” says Gyatso* of the Tibetan Community of Victoria, “We have been asking the Australian parliament to implement laws requiring China to open up Tibet and allow safe access to our families – because currently even contacting a loved one in Tibet can place that person in danger, and if we try to visit our homeland of Tibet we are denied access.”
“Tibetans have been arrested and imprisoned for contacting relatives outside Tibet,” says Dr Zoe Bedford of the Australia Tibet Council, “This has been occurring since before the Olympics – but we are hearing reports of extra crackdowns during this time. It seems authorities are summoning Tibetans to police stations and demanding their phone. If they possess any politically sensitive photos, videos or other information, or even if they had been in contact with Tibetans living overseas then they are at risk of arrest.”
“These new reports from Tibet Watch are further evidence of the need for Reciprocal Access to Tibet legislation here in Australia, the purpose of which would be to open up Tibetan areas to safe access by Australian-Tibetan citizens.” added Dr Zoe Bedford.
Because of this danger to their families, Tibetans in Australia limit their contact with relatives and friends. Since the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, Tibetans in Tibet have been cut off from the world. Those 2008 Olympics emboldened Chinese authorities that the world will turn a blind eye to the human rights violations in Tibet, and these Winter games could to that again.
“Tibetans in Tibet are being cut off from the world, we need the world to force China to open up,” says Tenzin* of the Tibetan Community of Victoria, “I need to be able to contact my family again one day – it is not right for China to deny this to us where just a phone call or chat message can put them in danger. There is no freedom in Tibet – and these Olympics have just made it worse”
Facts about Tibet:
- China has repeatedly violated UN conventions through extensive use of torture against Tibetan political prisoners.
- Prisons in Tibet are full of people detained for simply expressing their desire for freedom. They are arrested and convicted for peaceful acts, such as waving the Tibetan flag, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and sending information about events in Tibet abroad.
- The Tibetan flag and national anthem are banned.
- Since 2016, Larung Gar – the biggest Buddhist institute in Tibet, and indeed in the world – has been the target of a major assault. Thousands of individuals have been evicted and thousands of homes demolished – and these removals continue today. Another large monastic town Yarchen Gar has also suffered the same fate.
- Writers, singers, artists and teachers are jailed for celebrating Tibetan national identity and for any criticism of China’s rule.
* Tenzin, Dorjie and Gyatso’s names have all been changed due to the risk their families face if they speak out
Dr Zoe Bedford
Australia Tibet Council
0408 262 576