Michael Wohl, Executive Director of the Art of Peace Foundation which initiated the project, said today: “We are delighted that Olympics athletes took the opportunity to download this unique album, which conveys a message of hope and solidarity with the Tibetan people, as well as a commitment to freedom of expression that cannot be suppressed.”
Over 40 Olympic athletes in North America, Europe and even Beijing contacted The Art of Peace Foundation by email and through the Foundation’s website. Athletes downloaded the album as an act of solidarity with Tibet. International organizations including the International Campaign for Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet, and Team Darfur helped contact the athletes. Several of the athletes, who were assured anonymity, thanked the Art of Peace Foundation. In one case, an Olympian commended the Foundation’s “efforts, music and passion for peace.”
Following international media coverage of the album and its success, an article about the album – which referred to “angry netizens” who “are rallying together to denounce internet retailers that offer ‘Songs for Tibet’ for purchase” was published on two Chinese websites, china.org.cn – the authorized government portal site to China, managed by the Information Office of the State Council (China.org, Netizens incensed over Tibet album on iTunes – August 8, 2008)- and www.chinanews.com, a semi-official internet news portal which operates under close scrutiny and control of the Communist Party. This follows demonstrations by overseas Chinese against some companies (such as the French supermarket chain Carrefour) and broadcasters (CNN and the BBC) that have occurred since the international community has criticized China for its crackdown in Tibet, and in the buildup to the Olympics. The demonstrations and outpouring of Chinese nationalism, particularly linked to protests against Chinese government policies at the time of the Olympic torch relay, have been fueled by misinformation and propaganda from the Chinese authorities.
“The predictably hostile response to the album from Chinese internet users and an official website at this time reflects continued attempts to suppress any support for Tibet at a time of crisis for the Tibetan people, as well as the level of entrenched misinformation about Tibet propagated by the Beijing government among the Chinese public,” said Kate Saunders from the International Campaign for Tibet, which is supporting the project.
The double album, ‘Songs for Tibet’ celebrates peace, the Dalai Lama and Tibet. Twenty artists, including Sting, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, John Mayer and Moby contributed songs for the release.
Proceeds that the foundation receives will support initiatives for promoting peace and Tibetan cultural preservation projects. Details at http://www.artofpeacefoundation.org. The video for the album, ‘Songs for Tibet – Freedom is Expression,’ is available on YouTube.