When I was writing yesterday’s blog just a few minutes after midnight and reported the video log of the Tibetan protests – almost as it happened – outside the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium, I had no idea who was doing the protest.
On a previous blog, I had outlined just how much pressure the Scottish Government was giving China over its human rights record and the Tibetan situation.
So it was with pride that I found out one of the Tibet protesters was a Scot, continuing Scotland’s record of standing up for human rights and Tibet.
Iain Thom, a worker for Friends of the Earth – on a leave of absence – and former National Convenor of Students for Free Tibet in the UK, from Edinburgh; Phil Bartell, Lucy Marion Fairbrother, and Tirian Mink were the activists involved.
Iain climbed up a pole outside the Olympic Stadium placing a ‘One World, One Dream, Free Tibet’ banner at the top. He then phoned America’s ABC News to give details of his protest.
“We did this action today to highlight the Chinese Government’s use of the Beijing Olympics as a propaganda tool. They are whitewashing their human rights record on Tibet, so our action today shines a spotlight on those atrocities.
“In March, Tibetans took to the streets, risking everything in their calls for justice and human rights, and we stand today, with this action, in solidarity with those calls.”
“I’ll probably get detained by the police and then ejected out of the country but I believe it’s not anywhere near the risk or the fear that Tibetans are living under the occupation of the Chinese government,” he said.
His parents were reportedly proud and understanding.
The Daily Mail profiles Iain and also Lucy, from Cambridge here.
A profile of Phil Bartell can be found on the Colorado Daily.
Tirian Mink has a website here. It has the tagline ‘Very soon this will all seem like a dream, and reality will be something completely different.’
One ESPN reporter trying to photograph the protest ran into trouble with bystanders:
“I then went back to the bottom of the hill and took more pictures. By that point, a fire truck pulled up and moved a cherry picker up the pole to try to bring down the protester. The same civilian came down the hill and started screaming at me again. Some of the onlookers joined in, and I was circled by people who started pushing and shoving me, screaming and pointing to the stadium. I never got hit or punched, but I was definitely physically accosted. I was trying to be smart about it and I wasn’t hitting anyone, but I kept yelling, “Media! Press!”
Then, someone came up from behind me, someone I believe was an American. He was holding a camera and said, “Hey, buddy. This is going to get ugly; you should get out of here.”
The Chinese public seem to be all for the Games, and see it as a promotion of their country. Any protests just distract that.
Yet if China had a good human rights record and Tibet was liberated, none of these protests would be happening.
Then everyone could enjoy the Olympics.
Denial doesn’t help.