Joanna Lumley to join huge London demonstrations in support of Tibet

Friday, 4 April 2008

4th April 2008

Dedicated Tibet supporter Joanna Lumley is to join hundreds of Tibetans and their supporters when they demonstrate against the passage of the Olympic torch through London on Sunday, April 6.

The actress will speak out against China's recent brutal crackdown in Tibet during The Tibetan Freedom Torch Rally in Argyle Square, immediately following protests outside Downing Street. Explaining her involvement in the rally, Joanna said:

"The Olympic Charter defines the Olympic ideals as: 'respect for universal ethical fundamental principles'. Despite being the host for the 2008 Games, the Chinese government has shown clear contempt for such values in its recent brutal crackdown in Tibet. The IOC must therefore break its silence on China's human rights record and defend its own Charter's values. The best place to start would be by insisting that the Olympic Torch is not allowed into Tibet. China's parading the torch triumphantly in front of a cowed and repressed Tibetan population would be an abhorrent sight for anyone concerned with true Olympic values."

The demonstations have been organised by a coalition of London-based Tibet groups determined to protest at the way the Chinese government has hijacked the Olympic Torch for its own propaganda purposes. A full list of the protesters' demands is listed below.

The protesters' key demand is that the Olympic Torch should not be allowed to be taken through Tibet by the Chinese authorities. China intends to take the Olympic torch to the summit of Mt Everest on the domestic (Chinese) leg of the relay to underscore its baseless aims to sovereignty over Tibet. It will also parade the torch triumphantly in front of a Tibetan population cowed and repressed as a result of the recent crackdown.

Norman Baker MP, member of The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and President of the Tibet Society said:

ÒIt is deeply sad that the Chinese through their brutality in Tibet have contaminated the Olympic ideal. We obviously wish all our athletes well in Beijing but the thundercloud hanging over the Olympics cannot be ignored by governments and will not be ignored by millions of people across the world.

Ends

*Times and locations for protests along torch relay route and Tibetan Freedom Torch Rally:*

*Junction of Queensway and Bayswater Road. Assemble from 11am. Torch due 11.30am approx.

*Junction of Bedford Place and Great Russell St Assemble from 11.45am. Torch due 12.20pm approx.

*Junction of Richmond Terrace and Whitehall (opposite Downing St) Assemble from 12.30pm. Torch due 1pm approx.

*Tibetan Freedom Torch Rally *

Argyle Square, WC1 from 2.15pm. Speakers to include Joanna Lumley, Norman Baker MP, Tibetan MP Sonam Frasi, former political prisoner Ngawang Sandrol, Students for Free Tibet director, Lhadon Tethong. *

At approx 4.30pm the Tibetan Freedom Torch will be taken by members of Team Tibet and the Drapchi nuns to St Pancras Station for its onward journey by Eurostar to Paris for the next leg of its relay for freedom and justice for Tibet.

*Notes to Editor:*

*Protesters' Demands: the groups participating in the protests are urging the British government to:

*1.* To call on the Chinese government to allow immediate access to the Tibet Autonomous Region and other areas of Tibet by the UN, Red Cross or other independent bodies in order to produce an objective and true account of the situation, to report on casualties, ascertain the medical care and treatment of those casualties, verify the number of deaths and to visit those who have been arrested to ensure they have access to recognised legal processes.

*2. *To call on the Chinese government to re-open the Tibet Autonomous Region and other areas of Tibet to foreign journalists and ensure open access to the media in line with the pledges given as part of the conditions to hosting the Olympic Games in Beijing.

* 3. *As the Dalai Lama has repeatedly and publicly renounced violence and is committed to autonomy not independence for Tibet, to call on Premier Wen Jibao to act on the assurance given to Gordon Brown that he will enter into meaningful dialogue, without preconditions, with the Dalai Lama, and set a date for a meeting under the auspices of an agreed objective mediator and held in a neutral country in order to find a legitimate and negotiated solution of the Tibetan and Chinese people.

*4. *To call on UK government officials and dignitaries to withdraw from attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, in order to demonstrate their condemnation, abhorrence and concern at the Chinese authorities' overreaction and hostile repression of the Tibetan people's right to freedom of expression in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas.

*5. *To call on the International Olympic Committee and the Chinese government to review and amend the route of the Olympic torch to ensure it does not go through any regions of Tibet or Mount Everest out of respect for Tibetan people.

*For background / further information contact:

Philippa Carrick, Chief Executive Tibet Society: 020 7272 1414 / 07941 105 485 email: philippa@tibetsociety.com

Matt Whitticase, Free Tibet Campaign: 020 7324 4605 / 07515 788 456 email: matt@freetibet.org

Dalha Tsering, Tibetan Community in Britain: 07939 987 882 email: dalhatsering@yahoo.co.uk

Alice Speller, Students for a Free Tibet: 07786 982 222 email: alice@sftuk.org

Karma Chura Tsang, Tibetan Youth UK: 07725 501 995 email: info@tibetanyouthuk.org

Matt Whitticase
Press Officer, Free Tibet Campaign

Notes:

For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
Or call on +44 (0) 207 324 4605/+44 (0)7515 788456