From Washington to the Netherlands, from California to Canada, the International Campaign for Tibet marked the one-year countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the United States and around the world.
August 4, 2007: In mid-May at a roundtable meeting in Brussels, representatives from over a dozen Tibet support groups discussed potential methods of creatively marking the one-year countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After much discussion, an idea was proposed to “take Tibet out to the ballgame”.
11 weeks later; the groundwork was laid, the stage was set, and the logistics were planned. On August 4, 2007 with North America watching, the International Campaign for Tibet joined forces with dozens of Tibet support groups and launched Team Tibet at 11 major league ballparks across North America in front of 384,000 cheering baseball fans.
From California to New York and every stadium in between Team Tibet took to the stands. They brought with them 30,000 brochures, 22 giant banners, and 165 large flags from Tibet, Canada, and the USA. All in all, over 600 people took part; Tibetans, Americans, and Canadians standing side by side in solidarity.
August 8, 2007: Four days later, the International Campaign for Tibet in coalition with the Capital Area Tibetan Association and Amnesty International staged a demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Over 500 people were expected to attend, but unfortunately the three closest subway stations to the Chinese Embassy were shut down two hours before the demonstration due to a bomb threat. Essentially, this meant that unless you were to pay a $20 taxi fare, or walk 2 miles, you were unable to attend the demonstration. It was speculated that over one-hundred people had no choice but to return home.
Nevertheless, over 300 people showed up to send a message to China, that the “world is watching” and we will not stand for any continued violation of human rights.
ICT-Europe: That same day, under the direction of ICT-Europe, dozens of Tibetans and their supporters joined cycle rallies in Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam in The Netherlands. The cyclists distributed flyers and collected signatures for a petition to Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende.
In Amsterdam, 50 members of the local Tibetan community along with 15 Dutch cyclists, dressed in action T-shirts and with Tibetan national flags on their bicycles circled the old city center including Dam square, Leidseplein and China Town. At 11am the rally stopped to mark the start of a one-year walk from Amsterdam to Lhasa by Britt Das. The cyclists presented her with Tibetan ceremonial scarves and joined Britt for the first kilometers of her 10,000km-long journey which will take her through Europe, Central Asia and South Asia. She expects to reach Lhasa at the time of the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
In The Hague and Rotterdam smaller groups cycled through the city center and commercial areas. Participants in The Hague talked to legislators of the national parliament and also passed through the Embassy area. The rallies mark the start of one year of actions centered on sports in the Netherlands, notably cycling, football and marathons.
The next 12 months: These actions, and the many more recent actions hosted by other Tibet organizations around the world are just the start. From the steps of the US Capitol building to the Golden Gate Bridge, the International Campaign for Tibet will stand up for human rights and in solidarity with the Tibetan people.
We will make every phone call we can make, circulate every petition we can circulate, write every letter we can write, host every demonstration we can host, and we won’t stop or back down until China reaches a negotiated solution with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his representatives. The world is watching China, and we will make it count.
To quote the International Olympic Committee, “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principles of Olympism, In force as from 1 September 2004 (Page 9, Point 5).
The world is watching.