Beijing: Tibetan Flag Salute - Aug. 21, 2008
August 22nd Update: Four Sentenced to Ten Days ‘Administrative Detention’ Breaking news– the embassies of the four Tibet activists arrested early on August 21 have told family members that they have been sentenced to 10 days “administrative detention” by Chinese police. Under Chinese law, Chinese police can subject people to the punishment of administrative detention without a trial or court hearing This follows on yesterday’s sentencing of six other Tibet supporters in Beijing to the same punishment. Little else is known at this time but Students for a Free Tibet will fight this however we can and we will post additional information as we learn more.
What You Can Do To Help
1) Create your own videos and images in support of Florian, Jeremy, John and Mandie and submit them to: http://freetibet2008.tv/submit/. We will air them on the Windhorse report and promote them on our site.
2) For the U.S. citizens, you can call the US Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee at +1 202 225 5021. Politely express your concern and encourage them to urge the Chinese government to respect the rights of all those detained.
3) Send emails and letters of support to: email@example.com
4) Download the Rangzen Fist 4 badge image and post it on your blog or profile.
5) Watch and share Florian Norbu’s video statement.
At approximately 12:05 am Beijing time, Florian Norbu Gyanatshang, a Tibetan-German man and American Tibet supporters, Jeremy Wells and John Watterberg were detained by Beijing authorities for protesting near the Bird’s Nest stadium. The three had been under intense surveillance by up to 50 plainclothes police.
They called out “Free Tibet” and Florian Norbu unfurled the Tibetan flag. They raised their fists in a salute in the spirit of defiance and resistance displayed by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Last night’s protest took place as spectators were leaving the Bird’s Nest where the men’s 200 metre final had been held just hours before. It was on the medal podium for this same event 40 years ago that Smith and Carlos staged their courageous protest.
A fourth Tibet activist, Mandie McKeown from Britain, who observed the protest was also detained. The four were taken away in a police vehicle and their whereabouts are unknown. Two photographers from the Associated Press who were at the scene were also briefly detained.
Bios of detained activists below:
Florian Norbu Gyanatshang, 30, is half Tibetan and half German and was born in Neuss, Germany and raised at Lake Constance. He currently works in Stuttgart as a software developer.
As a Tibetan from Germany who has human rights, including the right to speak out, Florien believes that traveling to Beijing and taking action for Tibet at this critical time is the least that he can do. He feels it is critical to stand in solidarity with his Tibetan brothers and sisters who are undergoing the worst crackdown in decades at the hand of the Chinese government and are sacrificing everything, even their own lives, for freedom.
As a German, Florian also feels a sense of responsibility to speak out given Germany’s history of the 3rd Reich and the Nazi Games of 1936. He feels the Olympics are a platform to bring about political change and a time when the Chinese government cannot ignore Tibetans’ calls for freedom and justice.
John Watterberg, 30, was born in South Carolina to an Air Force fighter pilot father and a wonderful stay at home mother. As a result of his father’s career, John grew up all over the world with long stays in the Deep South, the Southwest, and across Europe. He currently lives in Brooklyn and has been an “activist” since his father was killed in a routine flying exercise six months after his return from Gulf War I. He had spent months there bombing the Iraqi frontlines and it was after understanding the extreme dissonance between his Christian faith and the hundreds killed by his hands that John renounced war completely; he was thirteen years old.
John’s abhorrence for war, combined with his extreme reverence for nature, led to his gradual deeper involvement with environmental organizations. From there it was a natural transition into social justice. John has been looking forward to the opportunity to support SFT from the time he first heard of the Tibet issue and was slapping Free Tibet bumper stickers on his first car in high school. He is taking action for Tibet in Beijing this summer because he believes all humans deserve freedom, dignity, justice, and a voice. It is the responsibility of all people of conscience, especially those in positions of privilege, to lend a voice to those who have been denied one.
Jeremy Wells, 38, was born and raised in and around Boston, MA, but has also lived in Iowa and Washington for many years. Jeremy currently resides in New York City with his partner Suheyla Zubaroglu and works as an event planner for the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Manhattan.
Jeremy’s involvement with the Tibetan movement is relatively new. He decided to take action in Beijing this summer because he believes this is a unique opportunity for the Tibetan people in their struggle for human rights and freedom, but also a chance to expand global consciousness of the continued oppression of people worldwide who are struggling for their right to self-determination.
Amanda (Mandie) McKeown, 41, was born in Glasgow, Scotland. Her family moved to Hemel Hempstead, North London when she was 18 months and it is there where Mandie grew up and went to school. She lived in London for nearly 20 years and now resides in Bristol with her husband and two children (Hamish 5 and Niamh 3).
Mandie’s support for the freedom of Tibet started when she was in India in 1995 (trying to study Hindi) and was placed in an area where many Tibetan families were living in exile. She has now worked with the Tibet movement for nine years and has been involved with many different Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) and has known and supported SFT and its staff for the duration of this time.