153 Tibet groups warn Coca-Cola of humanitarian disaster unless Tibet pulled from Torch Relay

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

More than 150 Tibet groups worldwide have signed a letter sent today to Coca-Cola stating that the key Olympics sponsor will be complicit in a humanitarian disaster in Tibet unless it uses its undoubted influence to force the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to drop Tibet from the Olympic Torch Relay.

The groups justify their concerns that a humanitarian disaster will unfold as the torch passes through Tibet by citing a statement made by Jampa Phuntsog, governor of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, on April 9. In his statement Phuntsog confirmed he expected Tibetans to protest and warned ominously “We will without doubt deal with these persons severely….we will not be merciful.”

The letter, a full version of which appears below, highlights that “there is a direct, tangible link between the ongoing repression in Tibet and the coming of the Olympic Flame.” It goes on to highlight a leaked IOC memo which makes it clear that the IOC is fully aware that deaths may occur along the route of the torch. The memo advises its officials to respond to news of deaths simply by expressing "deepest sympathies or condolences".

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign, one of the groups to have signed the letter, said: “Either the IOC and Olympics sponsors want to avert bloodshed or they don’t. It is in their power to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. If they insist the torch goes through Tibet they will only have themselves to blame when the Olympic Torch ends up drenched in Tibetan blood and their offices become the focus of a summer of protest.”