The long arm of the Chinese government stretched as far as Hamburg. Even inside the AOL-Stadium in Hamburg, the regime was making its influence on stadium security felt. Chinese stewards inside the stadium were looking out for banners and signs that were critical of China. A peaceful protest by young Tibetans and their German supporters was thereby harshly called to a halt by security staff and the police, on recommendation of the Chinese stewards. The activists, with their Tibetan flags, were forbidden to display the Tibetan flag in the stadium.
“This example unfortunately shows, yet again, that the Chinese government cannot tolerate even the slightest criticism. If the regime can carry out such censorship abroad, how will the situation for freedom of expression and press freedom look during the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008? The regime in China plays games with human rights. It misuses athletes and the Olympic ideals for their own propagandistic purposes. It is scandalous that the International Olympic Committee and western sponsors just sit back and watch.” said Chompel Balok, spokesperson for the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe. “Therefore, with our Olympics Campaign until 2008, we shall continue to seize every opportunity to raise awareness and to draw attention to China?s unjust occupation of Tibet as well as Beijing?s inhumane human rights policy.”
If Beijing were to have its way, the worldwide celebrated Chinese economic boom would detract from the fact that human rights in China and in particular in occupied Tibet are grossly violated. China is a world leader in terms of corruption, arbitrary detention and death sentences. The regime is therefore in urgent need of image improvement, not least in the eyes of their own citizens. “The world should not let itself be fooled by the show that China puts on. Behind the surface of a modern and open society lays an authoritarian regime that brutally persecutes dissidents.” said Chompel Balok.
“We are hoping to communicate with the people in China with this action. It is also a message of encouragement to our fellow Tibetans in Tibet and our friends in China not to lose hope and to raise their voices for peace and justice during the August 2008 games in Beijing.”