marathon runnersWith the successful participation of a Tibet Team during the Sunday 21 October Amsterdam ING Marathon, ICT’s Race for Tibet campaign is gathering momentum in The Netherlands. Thirty runners carrying large Tibetan flags were cheered by dozens of Tibetan and Dutch supporters while they finished in Amsterdam’s historic Olympic Stadium. Amidst their ranks was Dhondup, a young Tibetan who grew up on the Tibetan plateau and who set an impressive personal record of 1.45 minutes on the half-marathon. A second Tibetan runner was Tenzin Tsering, who ran the 5-kilometer race. One after the other runners of the Tibet Team finished with the Tibetan flag. It was an impressive sight that didn’t go unnoticed.

An emotional Dhondup was interviewed at the finish and said: “I can’t describe how I feel. My thoughts are with my fellow Tibetans including my family and relatives back in Tibet. People are imprisoned for possessing a Tibetan flag or because they express their support for the Dalai Lama. It really means a lot for us Tibetans to see so many people in The Netherlands support our country by finishing this marathon with a Tibetan flag. I run this race because I want people to know about the issues in Tibet, and in the hope to inspire young Tibetans to stand up and do something for Tibet”.

Dhondup’s interview at the finish was broadcast live on video screens in the stadium. Photos and articles on ICT- Europe’s marathon actions were published in newspapers and footage appeared on television. Kamiel Maasse, who set a new Dutch record this Sunday, expressed his concerns on the human rights situation in China on national television.

Long-distance runners put Tibet in the spotlight this year during actions organized by ICT-Europe at the Dam tot Dam Loop in Amsterdam, the Utrecht Singelloop, the Texel Marathon, the Marathon Eindhoven and the Singelloop in Breda. The runners mentioned how receiving a Tibetan flag on a pole, a few hundred meters ahead of the finish, gave a surge of energy and impetus to finish the run. Support teams in the mean time made full use of the opportunity to inform the many thousands of spectators about the human rights situation in Tibet and our main demands, for the Chinese to stop human rights abuses in Tibet and to start direct negotiations about the future of Tibet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.