Tibetan exiles plan own 'Olympics'

Irked at not being able to participate in the Beijing Olympics as an independent nation, Tibetan exiles in India are planning an unofficial Olympics from May 15-25, to be held in Dharamsala.

They've even coined a counter-slogan, 'One World, Many Dreams', to the official Beijing Olympics slogan of 'One World, One Dream'.

Obviously, the games won't be on the same scale as the Beijing Olympics. There will be just 10 events with around 30 competitors (only Tibetans) involved in sports like archery and target shooting.

But they will offer a platform for Tibetans to draw international attention to what they call China's continuing abuse of Tibetans and denial of human rights.

"We respect the international Olympics and want to celebrate their spirit. But we've decided to organize our own Olympics since Tibet will not have representation in the Beijing games," said Lobsang Wangyal, organizer of the Dharamsala Games.

There's more. The protesters also flagged off a worldwide Tibet Independence Torch Relay which is scheduled to reach Tibet on August 8, when the Olympics actually open in Beijing.

The torch will travel across five continents, covering India, US, Canada, Belgium, England, France, Australia, Taiwan and Japan, before attempting to enter Tibet via Nepal.

"Our purpose to carry it through various countries is to show that Tibetans have support the world over," Wangyal said.

"Tibet's independent torch relay is supposed to highlight the historic fact that Tibet was an independent nation until the Chinese invasion in 1949. Besides, we are also protesting against the Beijing torch relay through Tibet," said Tsewang Yeshi, president of Tibetan Youth Congress, an NGO which is organizing the relay.

Tibetans have also delivered a letter to the International Olympic Committee chief, Jacques Rogge, signed by 150 organizations, demanding removal of Tibet from the torch relay route.

"The Chinese government will run the flame through Tibet in June and up till Mt Everest in April, in an attempt to legitimize its control over our homeland," said Pema Dolkar, spokesperson for the Tibetan Youth Association Europe. "If IOC does not cancel plans to take the torch through Tibet, it will be seen as endorsing China's crackdown on Tibetans," he added.

Earlier this week, Tibetans from Switzerland, Germany and the US were detained by Greek police after they tried to disrupt China's global torch relay in Ancient Olympia. Undeterred, they now plan to disrupt the relay as the flame passes through London on April 6, Paris on April 7 and San Francisco on April 8 and 9.

Tibetan organisations in India have also appealed to Aamir Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Leander Paes and Kiran Bedi to refrain from participating in the Olympic torch relay that will be held in New Delhi on April 17.

Copyright © 2008 Times of India

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