Thursday, April 26, 2007

Panchen Lama's 18th Birthday Banner Hang

Members of Students for a Free Tibet hang a banner Wednesday on a bridge over University Avenue connecting two buildings on the UW-Madison campus. Their banner calls for the release of the Panchen Lama of Tibet, an important spiritual and political leader detained by the Chinese government in 1995.

Plan to raise Tibet's flag here raises China's ire
Pat Schneider
The Capital Times
Published: April 26, 2007

It would mean a lot to Madison area Tibetans to see their flag fly over the City-County Building during a visit by the Dalai Lama next week, said Sherab Lhatsang.

"In Tibet, if you possess a Tibetan flag or honor the Dalai Lama, you can be locked up," Lhatsang said Wednesday.

Lhatsang is a leader in the local Tibetan community, estimated at more than 500 residents of Dane County. Many came to the United States through a resettlement program that followed the 1950 invasion of Tibet by China. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people.

The government of China, through its consul in Chicago, has objected to the city of Madison's plans to raise the flag over City Hall next week.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Consul Zhiyuan Ji described himself as "astonished" that the Madison city government would take official action to welcome the Dalai Lama.

He is "not merely a religious figure, but a political exile who has long been engaged in activities of separating Tibet from China," Ji wrote.

Mayoral spokesman George Twigg said Wednesday that the city would go ahead with its welcome for the Dalai Lama.

"We have no plans to ask for any changes to any aspect of his visit," Twigg said.
The mayor, he said, declined to meet with the Chinese consul.

A resolution passed on a voice vote by the City Council on April 18 calls for a welcome for the Dalai Lama and "appropriate placements" of the Tibetan flag in his honor.

The suggestion is that the flag fly over the City-County Building, but since the building's operating rules allow only the U.S. flag to be flown, an exception would be required.

The City-County Liaison Committee will meet at 7:30 tonight in Room 201 of the City-County Building to consider an exception to permit the Tibetan flag to be flown.

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said his organization has taken no official position on the issue, but that fundamental separation of church and state must be preserved.

"Our government is a secular government. Since the Dalai Lama is a religious leader, we cannot use our government buildings or money to endorse him," Barker said.

Clearly, the Dalai Lama is a political leader as well as a religious leader. But so are many others, Barker said. "What about Pat Robertson? Would we fly a flag at the City-County Building to honor him? He's a political leader too."

"There should be a separation from religions you like as well as religions you don't like," he said.
"We would hope that the Dalai Lama himself would ask the flag not to be flown. He should be sensitive to the social conflict that arises when you mix religion and government," Barker said.

Lhatsang, who has been a leader in the Wisconsin Tibetan Association, said about 100 supporters, Tibetans and members of Students for a Free Tibet were on hand when the resolution honoring the Dalai Lama was approved.

"People were really moved when the resolution was approved," he recalled.

This is the second time in just weeks that the Chinese government has reacted to largely symbolic government measures in Wisconsin.

Last month, two representatives of the Chinese consulate visited state Rep. Joe Parisi, D-Madison, to express their displeasure of his sponsorship of a resolution commemorating a 1959 Tibetan uprising against China.

Hilary Edwards, Midwest coordinator for Students for a Free Tibet, said the Chinese government has of late demonstrated greater interest in such measures, as it tries to burnish its image before hosting the 2008 World Olympics by diverting attention from its relationship with Tibet.

"China is working hard at having a more presentable image to show the rest of the world," Edwards said.

"There's a lot of support for the Tibetan community in Wisconsin," she said.

Ji's letter, where he points to Wisconsin's growth of trade with China and advises careful reconsideration of the wisdom of welcoming the Dalai Lama, is nothing short of a threat, she said.

"I don't see how it could be interpreted as anything else," she said.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Speaker Tenzin Dickyi's Midwest Tour Dates Confirmed

April 29, 2007
3:00 PM
Tibetan Alliance of Chicago
950 West Carmen Street
Chicago, Illinois

May 1, 2007
6:00 PM
1121 Humanities
455 North Park Street
Madison, Wisconsin

Wednesday, April 18, 2007



Lhadon Tethong (917) 418-4181 (New York)
Kate Woznow (778) 322-3071 (Vancouver)

April 18, 2007

New York – Students for a Free Tibet calls on the International Olympic Committee to reject China's plan to run the Olympic torch over Mount Everest and through Tibet. The IOC is currently meeting in Beijing and will make a final decision on China’s proposed torch route – including plans to take it through Tibet and Taiwan – by April 26th.

“Allowing China to run the Olympic torch through Tibet would mean the IOC’s mark of approval for China's military occupation of our nation,” said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “Nothing in the mission of the Olympic Games includes providing validation for the most abhorrent and shameful policies of the host nation.”

“The IOC has nine days to make the right decision and keep the Olympic torch out of what the Associated Press recently called a ‘politically charged territory’,” Tethong continued. “It has no business helping the Chinese government strengthen its claim over Tibet. The IOC has a moral
obligation to stop the Olympic Games from becoming a means for China to legitimize its authoritarian rule over Tibet and other occupied territories.”

“This shouldn’t be a hard decision for the IOC members to make,” said Kate Woznow, Director of Students for a Free Tibet in Canada. “The international community expects the IOC to show they have a backbone and will not allow the Chinese government to use the Olympic Games to whitewash the terrible reality of China’s repressive rule in Tibet.”

“Olympics organizers are quoted as saying ‘the torch symbolizes peace and friendship,’” Woznow added. “Sending the torch through Tibet would undermine this message and shows a complete disregard for the suffering of the Tibetan people.”

The thirty-ninth Olympic Games are scheduled to be held in Beijing in
August 2008. China has proposed bringing the Olympic torch to the summit of Mount Everest next year on its way to Beijing. The Beijing Games have already been the subject of major protests by the Tibetan exile community and have been called “the Genocide Olympics” by Darfur activists. Tibet has been occupied by China since 1949.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is a network of students and young people campaigning for Tibetan independence. With 650 chapters in more than thirty countries worldwide, SFT is working to shine the Olympic spotlight on China’s occupation of Tibet. SFT is based in New York, with offices in Vancouver, London, and Dharamsala, India.

Beijing 2008: One World, One Dream: Free Tibet.
Lhadon Tethong
Executive Director
Students for a Free Tibet
602 East 14th Street, 2 Floor, New York, NY 10009 USA
Tel: (212) 358-0071 / Fax: (212) 358-1771

Friday, April 13, 2007

Voice of America featured on WORT 89.9 FM Madison, WI

Aired April 12, 2007 just before 7:00 PM during the WORT 89.9 FM local news show "In Our Backyard"

Features an interview with a Tibetan-American Madison resident, Jampa Khedup-la


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Eleven former VOA Directors Appeal for Reversal of Plan for VOA Cuts

Eleven former directors of the Voice of America (VOA) have issued a joint statement calling on Congress to reverse a Bush administration plan to substantially reduce VOA’s English broadcasts and those in 15 other languages.

VOA, the largest publicly funded civilian overseas broadcasting network in the US, may go silent in many areas of the world on radio later this year unless the Congress reverses the action in hearings on the US federal budget for the next fiscal year starting 1 October. Among the planned cuts is the shutdown on radio of VOA’s worldwide English service. The former Voice directors joining in the appeal to reverse the cuts have served at various times during the past half a century under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

If the cuts go through, the Voice also would eliminate all broadcasts in Uzbek, Croatian, Georgian, Cantonese and Thai, and cease radio transmissions while retaining some television in Russian, Ukrainian, Albanian, Serbian, Bosnian, Macedonian, and Hindi (to India.) Schedules would be cut, as well, in Tibetan and Portuguese to Africa.

The directors’ statement follows:
We former directors of the Voice of America urgently appeal for a reversal by Congress of planned reductions in VOA that could silence the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas broadcast network in much of the world. Taken together, the cuts would seriously jeopardize our national security and public diplomacy. Further, they would deprive millions of people of access to a fully free and open media, a core value of what our nation is all about.

The Bush administration has proposed to eliminate VOA English in every continent except Africa, abolish services in Cantonese, Croatian, Georgian, Greek, Thai and Uzbek, cease radio broadcasts in Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Albanian, Bosnian, Macedonian, and Hindi (to India), and significantly scale back programming in Tibetan and Portuguese to Africa.

In view of:

  • decisions by China, Russia, Iran, France and Al Jazeera TV to broadcast around the clock or increase airtime in our own language, English, spoken or understood by at least 1.6 billion people worldwide

  • a 23 percent increase in Russia’s military budget as Vladimir Putin muzzles his own as well as foreign news and information outlets

  • new media restrictions and arrests or jailing of journalists in China, Tibet and Uzbekistan along with just declared martial law and an upsurge of extremist Muslim activity in Thailand

  • the volatile situation in the Balkans as Kosovo moves toward independence, and VOA’s proven cost effectiveness (more than 115 million listeners and viewers a week)…

We urgently appeal for an increase of the proposed $178 million VOA budget to $204 million for fiscal year 2008 beginning October 1. This would be mandated to cover programming and transmission of services listed above, 3.9 percent of the entire US overseas broadcasting budget. This is a tiny but essential investment. Surveys show anti-American opinion abroad to be at an all-time high. At this critical moment in the post 9/11 era, the United States simply cannot, for its own long term strategic safety and security, unilaterally disarm in the global contest of ideas.

Mary G F Bitterman, Robert E Button, Richard W Carlson, Geoffrey Cowan, John Hughes, David Jackson, Henry Loomis, E Eugene Pell, Robert Reilly, R Peter Straus, and Sanford J Ungar.

Source: Media Network Weblog

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Wisconsin Residents Can Save Tibetan Independent Radio!

We recently learned that the Tibetan language broadcasts of Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA) - US-based radio programs that broadcast into Tibet - may be in danger of losing some critical US government funding. The Broadcasting Board of Governors' (BBG), which oversees RFA and VOA, has proposed a reduction of US congressional funding for the Tibetan broadcasts. This is very alarming! RFA and VOA are virtually the only independent sources of news available to Tibetans inside Chinese-occupied Tibet, whose access to outside information is almost entirely restricted by China's heavy media censorship.

The proposed budget cuts would reduce RFA's Tibetan broadcast from 8 hours to 4 hours per day and VOA's Tibetan broadcast from 4 hours to 3 hours per day. As a result, tens of thousands of Tibetan nomads, farmers and other regular listeners, who cherish the radio broadcast as their only reliable source of information, would find their access to news and information seriously compromised. Tibetans living in Tibet aptly refer to RFA and VOA as the information lifeline of Tibet. They know that these two radio services are funded by the United States government and are very grateful for this American support to the Tibetan people.

As the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach, the Tibetan freedom struggle is building momentum and poised to become more dynamic than ever. The next few years are a critical phase of the freedom struggle as social and political activism is expected to increase dramatically. At this critical and historic moment, it is imperative that the Tibetan radio services receive more support, not less, from the American government.

Please call Wisconsin Congressman Dave Obey, Chairman of House Committee on Appropriations:

Wausau district office: (715) 842-5606

Superior District office: (715) 398-4426

Washington DC office: (202) 225-3365


1. Introduce yourself and where you are calling from. Say you would like to speak with the Representative or their assistant about a proposal regarding funding cuts of the Tibetan broadcasts of Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA).

2. Thank the Representative for his/her past support of RFA and VOA's Tibetan services. The two radio services represent the only reliable sources of news available to Tibetans inside Chinese-occupied Tibet, whose access to outside information is severely restricted due to China's heavy media censorship.

3. While the Chinese government pumps billions of dollars into suppressing freedom of press in Tibet, the Tibetan broadcasts of RFA and VOA represent the closest thing Tibetans have to freedom of information.

4. With the 2008 Beijing Olympics around the corner, the next few years are a critical phase in the Tibetan people's struggle for freedom. There will be a rise in social and political activism in the Tibet movement and Beijing's repressive behavior will come under intense global scrutiny. Therefore, there is an urgent need for more hours of Tibetan broadcast in Tibet by the two radio services, not less.

5. Since the United States government will be awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet later this year, this proposal to cut funding for Tibetan radio seems highly inappropriate and contradictory to existing American public support of the Tibetan cause.

6. We believe that such cuts may be interpreted by authoritarian regimes like China as a sign of weakening American resolve in the promotion of freedom and democracy.

7. For all the above reasons, please continue the United States government's support of RFA and VOA's Tibetan broadcasts.