‘Beijing 6′ Brian gives Shout Out to SFT on PBS Idea Lab

Brian Conley, creator of the well-known videoblog, Alive in Baghdad, and one of the ‘Beijing 6‘ citizen journalist detained this summer in Beijing for capturing images and videos of pro-Tibet actions during the Olympics, was interviewed for PBS Idea Lab about his incredibly important new project Alive in Tehran.

During his interview, Brian gave the following shout out to SFT and our efforts to break through China’s Great Firewall. Read and listen to the fill interview.

Ryan: So while you weren’t on the ground in Gaza, you had connections who were, and were able to get information out, too.

brian conley.jpg

Brian: Exactly, and then we used Twitter to pull in questions from people and enable people to sort of interact with our guy on the ground there. So then when Iran started happening it seemed like a natural fit to try and use the same tools for the folks there, to enable them to basically communicate out. The primary thing that we’re trying, that we’re pushing right now, is basically a phone number that people can call, get to a voicemail box and record whatever they would like to say, and right now I have a public voice mailbox available via an Alive in Tehran Facebook [group].

Also, people can message me via twitter.com/baghdadbrian and then for people who are more private or who have family, they just want to share one voicemail box…we can set up a specific number for any individual. Beyond that, we’re looking at other tools. I’ve learned a little bit about how Students for a Free Tibet have gotten video out of Tibet. So there’s one tool I’m sort of sharing with people privately. Then there on Alive in Tehran we have a list of tools Iranians can use to communicate securely. So basically, right now it’s a lot of organizing and working it.

SFT Canada’s Tsering Confronts HDI/Continental Minerals’ Executives

Footage from HDI/Continental Minerals Shareholders’ meeting in Vancouver, Canada on June 24th. Tibetans and their supporters protested at the meeting to intenisfy pressure on the company to Stop Mining Tibet.

PLA Generals visit UK Parliament

LONDON – A military delegation comprised of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) generals is visiting the UK this week with their schedule centred around parliamentary engagements. The delegation, headed by Lt General Zhao Gang who is Vice President of Beijing’s National Defence University, met with the Defence Committee and part of their agenda is to discuss ‘military reform’, Students for a Free Tibet UK has learned. The visit comes at a time when areas of Tibet remain under tight military control and a year on from well documented instances of mass demonstrations by Tibetans being dispersed by indiscriminate gunfire by PLA soldiers. During the visit, news has emerged from Tibet of another instance of gunfire being used to suppress protest, as a violent crackdown against a Tibetan farming boycott in the Chamdo area led to a demonstrator named Tsering being shot. The severity of Tsering’s injuries are unknown at the time of writing.

In May 2009 Tsewang Dhondup and his brother escaped into exile having been involved in last year’s demonstrations. Tsewang, himself shot and seriously injured by the Chinese military whilst helping a wounded monk, has given testimony detailing the lethal force used by the PLA against demonstrators in Dragko County on 24 March 2008. Tsewang stated: “Around 4:30 pm on March 24, a massive protest demonstration led by around 150 nuns from Ngangong Nunnery broke out in Dragko. Several more monks from Palden Chokri and hundreds of lay people, mainly farmers later joined the march.” Tsewang spoke of how Chinese forces “indiscriminately opened fire on the demonstrators, shelled tear gas and used electric prods and iron batons to quell the protest.”

“This delegation is visiting shortly after the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and it is important to emphasise that two decades later PLA generals are just as willing to order the shooting of unarmed peaceful protesters,” said Terry Bettger, spokesperson for Students for a Free Tibet UK, “Over the past 15 months excessive and lethal force has been meted out against Tibetans by PLA forces simply because they called out for their fundamental human rights and freedoms. Students for a Free Tibet UK call upon British parliamentarians to make strong representations to the PLA delegation condemning such actions and demanding serious military reform to prevent such atrocities occurring in the future.”

Comments

PLA Generals visit UK Parliament

LONDON – A military delegation comprised of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) generals is visiting the UK this week with their schedule centred around parliamentary engagements. The delegation, headed by Lt General Zhao Gang who is Vice President of Beijing’s National Defence University, met with the Defence Committee and part of their agenda is to discuss ‘military reform’, Students for a Free Tibet UK has learned. The visit comes at a time when areas of Tibet remain under tight military control and a year on from well documented instances of mass demonstrations by Tibetans being dispersed by indiscriminate gunfire by PLA soldiers. During the visit, news has emerged from Tibet of another instance of gunfire being used to suppress protest, as a violent crackdown against a Tibetan farming boycott in the Chamdo area led to a demonstrator named Tsering being shot. The severity of Tsering’s injuries are unknown at the time of writing.

In May 2009 Tsewang Dhondup and his brother escaped into exile having been involved in last year’s demonstrations. Tsewang, himself shot and seriously injured by the Chinese military whilst helping a wounded monk, has given testimony detailing the lethal force used by the PLA against demonstrators in Dragko County on 24 March 2008. Tsewang stated: “Around 4:30 pm on March 24, a massive protest demonstration led by around 150 nuns from Ngangong Nunnery broke out in Dragko. Several more monks from Palden Chokri and hundreds of lay people, mainly farmers later joined the march.” Tsewang spoke of how Chinese forces “indiscriminately opened fire on the demonstrators, shelled tear gas and used electric prods and iron batons to quell the protest.”

“This delegation is visiting shortly after the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and it is important to emphasise that two decades later PLA generals are just as willing to order the shooting of unarmed peaceful protesters,” said Terry Bettger, spokesperson for Students for a Free Tibet UK, “Over the past 15 months excessive and lethal force has been meted out against Tibetans by PLA forces simply because they called out for their fundamental human rights and freedoms. Students for a Free Tibet UK call upon British parliamentarians to make strong representations to the PLA delegation condemning such actions and demanding serious military reform to prevent such atrocities occurring in the future.”

Comments

When the Party’s over…the joke will be on them

It’s unbelievable the lengths to which the Chinese government will go to cover up the June 4th, 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre: It has denied it ever happened; erased it from China’s history books; imprisoned and exiled survivors; threatened anyone who dares to openly mourn, demand justice, or even talk about what really happened in Tiananmen Square in the lead-up to and on that fateful day. They have forced an entire generation to ‘forget,’ and they have effectively kept the next generation from ever hearing of their parents’ struggles, hopes, and horrific losses.

Twenty years later, as the above video demonstrates, the Chinese government has not changed. However, the Party leadership has learned that when a government opens fire on its own people, it attracts intense international scrutiny – exactly 100% more negative attention than they want. In turn, they have adapted and developed new, more subtle tactics, like the umbrella assault, to distract the world’s attention from the Chinese government’s brutally repressive policies.

Your instinct when watching this video is to laugh; even one of the Chinese undercover thugs reveals a smile. But behind the humor and the lightness of the umbrella assault is a smart, strategic, and very scary government that regularly detains, tortures, and disappears Tibetans, Chinese, and anyone who threatens its control by advocating for change.

But, this video also demonstrates the Party’s ultimate weakness. By not acknowledging or taking responsibility for its heinous crimes in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, or today, the Chinese leadership is driving a wedge between the Party and the people. The people remember the brutality, the death, and the pain. If you are never able to mourn openly, to grieve and to share the truth of your experience, how can you ever fully move on? The Chinese government’s strategy of balancing an open economy, while simultaneously keeping the door to historical honesty and political freedom slammed shut, is unsustainable.

If one thing is certain, it’s that change will come to China. The scales will inevitably tip in favor of political openness, and when the Party falls, it will fall hard. In the end, the joke will be on them.

Tibetans, Supporters March on Eve of Tiananmen Massacre Anniversary

Photos of yesterday’s Solidarity March in NYC. We took to the streets in support of the survivors of Tiananmen Square, their families and all those in China who continue to courageously advocate for their basic rights and freedom. Check out SFT HQ’s Flickr site to view more photos.

nyctibtianmarch01

nyctibtianmarch02

nytibtianmarch08

nytibtianmmarch04

China’s Re-election to the UN Human Rights Council

hr_council_protest3On Tuesday, May 12th, China was re-elected to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in what can only be described as a step backward for human rights and a major blow to the integrity of the UN Human Rights Council.

In spite of China’s brutal human rights record and ongoing crackdown in Tibet, there was sadly little doubt that they would be re-elected to the Council. However, opposition to China’s membership did not go unnoticed.

Tibetan NGOs in Geneva joined forces with human rights organizations to challenge China’s re-election. Tibetans and their supporters also made sure our opposition to China’s membership was heard loud and clear outside of the UN General Assembly building here in New York City.

hr_council_protestThe Chinese government – likely feeling vulnerable about the upcoming 20th Tiananmen Square anniversary and its ongoing crackdown in Tibet –  went out of its way to submit a 5-page propaganda paper to the UN General Assembly in an attempt to convince them that human rights have improved in China.

The very notion of China as a human rights defender is a complete farce. And as former president for the Czech Republic and Nobel Peace laureate, Vaclav Havel, suggests: China’s candidacy (and the candidacy of other human rights offending governments) for the Human Rights Council casts a dark shadow over the very purpose of the Council.

hr_council_protest2

There are those who argue that engaging China on the Council will make a difference for human rights . In reality, China’s membership will only serve to embolden the Chinese government to use its position to deflect criticism of its human rights abuses and to silence any discussion about its ongoing military crackdown in Tibet.

The day after China’s re-election to the Council, Human Rights Watch released a video highlighting the Chinese government’s ongoing victimization and harassment of Tiananmen Square survivors, their families, and anyone who dares challenge the government’s version of history. Watch the video.

The message in Human Rights Watch’s video is clear and one that the Human Rights Council should heed: Unless the international community is willing to exert real pressure on the Chinese government, it will continue to violently oppress and disregard human rights in Tibet, China and other Chinese-occupied territories –  violating everything the UN Human Rights Council is intended to protect.

China: Stop the Executions!

On April 8th, China sentenced two Tibetans, Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, to death for their alleged involvement in last year’s protests in Lhasa. Two others, Phuntsok and Kangtsuk, were also sentenced to death but with a two year reprieve, and Dawa Sangpo was sentenced to life imprisonment.

March and April 2008 saw the largest protests in Tibet for 50 years. A wave of protests began in Lhasa on 10 March 2008 and, since that time, more than 150 separate protests have taken place across the Tibetan Plateau, the overwhelming majority of which were non-violent in nature.

These harsh sentences signal an alarming escalation in the Chinese government’s campaign to punish and intimidate Tibetans who dare to speak out against Chinese rule.

Please help us stop the executions! CLICK HERE to send a letter to the Chinese government calling for an immediate stay of execution.

What’s At Stake?

According to a report issued today by Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak were charged with “starting fatal fires” in Lhasa. Tenzin Phuntsok, Kangtsuk, and Dawa Sangpo were also charged with arson. The Xinhua report does not give any details of the evidence presented against these five individuals.

Read the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy’s condemnation of the sentences.

In addition to sending a letter, please call the Chinese authorities to demand a halt to these executions and an independent inquiry into the cases. Please note that China and Tibet are 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

You can also print and fax or mail your letter to the address below.

BEIJING:

Ministry of Justice
Minister: Wu Aiying
No.10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyang District
Beijing 100020, China
Tel: +86 10 8313 9065
Tel: +86 10 6520 6706
Fax: +86 10 8313 9051
Fax: +86 10 6529 2345

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Minister: Yang Jiechi
No. 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyang District
Beijing 100701, China
Tel: +86 10 6596 1114
Tel: +86 10 6596 3100

Supreme People’s Procuratorate
Tel: +86 10 6525 2000
Tel: +86 10 6559 2000

LHASA:

Secretary of the Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
Tel: +86 89 1632 5889

TAR People’s Government
Tel: +86 89 1633 2067

TAR People’s Congress
Tel: +86 89 1683 2423

Comments