Tibet groups write to Olympic sponsors

Thursday, 20 March 2008

53 Tibet organisations have today written to Coca-Cola demanding that the Olympics sponsor forces the IOC to exclude all Tibetan areas from the Olympics Torch Relay (below).

Free Tibet Campaign has also written to the Olympic Torch Relay sponsors Samsung and Levona.

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said:

"Tibet is a central theme to China's Olympics propaganda: taking the torch through Tibet is intended to underscore its bogus sovereignty claims to Tibet. Allowing China this cheap propaganda stunt when Tibetan protesters are being shot in the streets will leave Coca-Cola's reputation in tatters."

Matt Whitticase: +44 (0)7515 788456

March 19, 2008

E. Neville Isdell

Chairman and CEO

The Coca-Cola Company

P.O. Box 1734

Atlanta, GA 30301

USA

Phone: (404) 676-2683

Fax: (404) 515-6428

Dear Mr. Isdell:

We the undersigned, representatives of 153 Tibetan organizations and Tibet Support Groups around the world, are writing to you with great concern about the Olympic Torch Relay's planned stops in Tibet in the upcoming weeks. In recent days, the international media has been flooded with reports and images of Tibetans, including Buddhist monks, demonstrating against China's oppression and subsequently being beaten and even killed by Chinese soldiers. As the Chinese government cracks down on protesters in Tibet and expels all independent observers and media personnel from Tibetan areas, it is becoming increasingly evident that carrying the Olympic torch through Tibet, to Lhasa, and up Mount Everest would exacerbate the crisis in Tibet and cause yet more suffering for the Tibetan people.

To Tibetans, carrying China's Olympic Torch into the heart of their land and up one of Tibet's most holy mountains is a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to use the Olympics to underscore their baseless claims to sovereignty over Tibet. There is a strong likelihood that if the torch is carried through Tibet, it may become a focus for further unrest, which would result in another heavy-handed crackdown and more Tibetans facing further suffering, imprisonment, torture and possible loss of life. To lend Coca- Cola's name to such a venture would be commercially unsound, as it would expose Coca-Cola to significant reputational damage and high-profile demonstrations outside its worldwide offices.

The Chinese government's unfortunate insistence on using components of the Olympics, such as the torch relay, for political purposes opens their corporate partners up to condemnation from the global public. The irony of China celebrating the opening of the Beijing 2008 Olympics with a performance of traditional Tibetan opera while Tibetans in Lhasa will be mourning their dead and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Tibetans will be languishing in prison for trying to exercise freedom of expression, makes it tasteless for Coca-Cola's name to be associated with the 2008 Games.

I am certain that you do not wish for Coca-Cola to be associated with brutality and bloodshed in Tibet. As one of only three sponsors of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay, you hold significant influence with the Relay organizers and with the International Olympic Committee. We therefore call on you to immediately request that the International Olympic Committee withdraw all Tibetan areas - including the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan - from the Olympic Torch Relay. We also encourage you to demonstrate your opposition to the oppressive tactics being used by the Chinese authorities in Tibet by withdrawing your sponsorship of the Torch Relay and publicly calling for the release of all Tibetan political prisoners, for journalists to be allowed access to Tibetan areas, and for the Chinese authorities to immediately stop their violent suppression of Tibetan protesters.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Alison Reynolds

Executive Director

on behalf of members of the International Tibet Support Network

North America:

Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina

Bay Area Friends of Tibet

Boston Tibet Network

Canada Tibet Committee

China Tibet Initiative

Colorado Friends of Tibet

Committee of 100 for Tibet

International Campaign for Tibet

International Tibet Independence Movement

Los Angeles Friends of Tibet

Monadnock Friends of Tibet

Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association

Pasadena Friends of Tibet

Rangzen Alliance

San Diego Friends of Tibet

Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet

Sierra Friends of Tibet

Students for a Free Tibet

Students for a Free Tibet - Canada

The World Tibet Day Foundation

The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago

Tibet Committee of Fairbanks

Tibet Justice Center (formerly ICLT)

Tibetan American Resource Alliance

Tibetan Association of Northern California

Tibetan Association of Southern California

Tibetan Association of Santa Fe

Tibetan Cultural Association - Quebec

TIBETmichigan

Tibetech.org

Toronto Tibetan Youth Congress

U.S. Tibet Committee

Western Colorado Friends of Tibet

Central & South America:

Amigos de Tibet, Chile

Asociacion Cultural Peruano Tibetana

Casa Tibet Mexico

Comite Brasileiro DE Apoio Ao Tibet

Fundacion Pro Tibet - Buenos Aires, Argentina

Grupo De Apoyo a Tibet Chile

Pensando en Tibet Mexico

T’bet Patria Libre, Uruguay

Salvadoran Friends of Tibet, El Salvador

Tibet Independiente, Chile

Tibetan-Costarican Cultural Association

Western Europe:

Aide aux Refugies Tibetains

Amici del Tibet-Friends of Tibet Italy

Association Dorje

Association Drome Ardeche-Tibet

Association Jamtse Thundel (France)

Association of Tibetans in Germany

Association Rangzen

Associazione Italia-Tibet

Austrian Committee for Tibet

Autodetermination Tibet, France

Briancon05 Urgence Tibet

C.S.P.T. Midi-Pyrenees Rencontres Tibetaines

Caisse d'Aide aux Prisonniers Tibetains

Casa del Tibet - Spain

Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (Madrid)

Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (CSPT)

Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Switzerland)

Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain Bretagne

Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain de l'Herault

EcoTibet Ireland

Eco-Tibet France

Ewam Centre, Italy

France-Tibet

Free Tibet Campaign

Games of Beijing, Switzerland

Groupe Non-Violent Louis Lecoin, France

International Campaign for Tibet Deutschland

International Campaign for Tibet Europe

International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter

La Porte du Tibet, Geneva

Tibet Support Group Belgium Ð Les Amis du Tibet Ð Vrienden van Tibet

Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg

Lions Des Neiges

Lions Des Neiges Mont Blance, France

Maison des Himalayas

Maison du Tibet - Tibet Info

Nos Amis de l'Himalaya

Objectif Tibet

Passeport Tibetain

Reseau International des Femmes pour le Tibet

Rhone Tibet

Save Tibet, Austria

Society for Threatened Peoples International (Associate Member)

Solidarite Tibet

Students for a Free Tibet France

Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association

Tibet 59 / 62

Tibet Democratie

Tibet Initiative Deutschland

Tibet Libertes, France

Tibet Society, U.K.

Tibet Songtsen House, Switzerland

Tibet Support Group - Ireland

Tibet Support Group - Netherlands

Tibet Unterstutzung Liechtenstein

Tibetan Community Austria

Tibetan Community in Britain

Tibetan Women's Association Switzerland

Tibetan Youth Association in Europe

Tibetisches Zentrum Hamburg

TSG Free Tibet And You

Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France

Urgence Tibet

Vercors Tibet Resistances

Northern Europe:

Friends of Tibet in Finland

The Norwegian Tibet Committee

Swedish Tibet Committee

Tibet Support Committee Denmark

Tibetan Community in Denmark

Tibetan Community Sweden

Central & Eastern Europe:

Friends of Tibet Society St. Petersburg, Russia

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights - Tibet Desk (Associate Member)

Polish Movement for a Free Tibet

Tibetan Programme, Poland

Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship

The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia (Associate Member)

Lithuanian Tibet Culture Foundation

Tibet Support Association - Hungary

Tibet Support Group - Krasnodar Region, Russia

Tibet Support Group - Romania

Tibet Support Group - Slovenia

Tibet Support Group - Sochi Region, Russia

Tibetan Programme - The Other Space Foundation (Associate Member)

Zida Cels, Latvia

Asia:

All India Students Forum for Free Tibet

Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India

Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H. H. the Dalai Lama

Friedrich-Naumann Foundation (Associate Member)

Friends for Tibet and Tibetans - Delhi

Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet

Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet

India Tibet Friendship Society

India Society for Tibetan Community

Mahatma Gandhi Tibet Freedom Movement, India

National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India

Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia

Tibet Lives, India

Tibet Solidarity Forum, Bangladesh

Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan

Tibet Support Network Japan (TSNJ)

Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre (TPPRC) Delhi

Tibetan Women's Association (Central)

Tibetan Youth Congress

Australasia:

Australia Tibet Council

Friends of Tibet New Zealand

Students for a Free Tibet New Zealand

Tibetan Community of Australia (Victoria)

Africa & the Middle East:

Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People

Tibet Support Group Kenya

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