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Over 40 Olympic Athletes in Beijing Download Tibet Solidarity Album ‘Songs for Tibet’

2008-08-19 14:25:00

    In Atmosphere of Fear and Intimidation, Download Initiative Gives

Athletes Ability to Protest Chinese Policies in Tibet as Chinese Netizens

Denounce Album



    WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 /EMWNews/ -- 'Songs for Tibet - The

Art of Peace,' a top-selling rock album, has been downloaded by more than

40 Olympic athletes from North America, Europe and even Beijing, as an act

of solidarity with Tibet. The album of 20 tracks from Sting, Alanis

Morissette, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Moby and others is a celebration of

Tibet and the Dalai Lama's philosophy of peace, non-violence and

compassion.



    Michael Wohl, Executive Director of the Art of Peace Foundation, which

initiated the project, said: "Many athletes wanted to speak their mind, but

couldn't without considerable risk. We are delighted that Olympic athletes

took the opportunity to contact us and downloaded the album. It conveys a

message of hope and solidarity with the Tibetan people and a commitment to

freedom of expression that cannot be suppressed." Several of the athletes,

who were assured anonymity, thanked the Art of Peace Foundation. In one

case, an Olympian commended the Foundation's "efforts, music and passion

for peace."



    The initiative took place in an atmosphere of repression that made

overt protests all but impossible. A number of dramatic assaults on

freedoms of expression engulfed the Olympics and raised interest in the

download initiative, including:



    -- Chinese authorities jailed over 1,000 Tibetan monks as an act of

intimidation to prevent disruptions during the Games.



    -- Athletes were forbidden to show any support for Tibet at Olympic

venues, including the Olympic village.



    -- Despite assurances to the contrary, a secret agreement between the

IOC and Chinese authorities limited internet access to thousands of Western

journalists, including blocking sites that monitor human rights violations

in China and Tibet.



    -- Beijing authorities received 77 applications to hold protests, but

all were 'withdrawn, suspended or rejected.' Some applicants were jailed,

detained or 'disappeared.'



    -- After being questioned repeatedly about human rights violations by

Western Journalists, the Beijing Olympic Committee and IOC cancelled

morning press briefings.



    -- One medal winning Olympian shaved his head in solidarity with

Tibetan monks, but said he couldn't discuss why because: "It's connected

with certain things that the Olympic Charter forbids."



    "The downloading of the album represents an understanding that

compassion and nonviolence can overcome intolerance and oppression --

beautiful ideals to be associated with the Olympic spirit." continued Wohl,

"Though you can stop people from speaking out, you can't stop them from

listening and thinking." International Campaign for Tibet, Students for a

Free Tibet, and Team Darfur assisted in getting the athletes in touch with

the Foundation.



    Following international media coverage of the album and its success,

which became a top seller in the U.S., Europe and Japan and hit the #4 spot

on Billboard's top downloaded digital album chart, an article was published

on china.org.cn -- the authorized government portal site to China, managed

by the Information Office of the State Council. The article reported that

"angry netizens" who "are rallying together to denounce internet retailers

that offer 'Songs for Tibet' for purchase" have even called for a boycott

on companies that make the pro-peace album available for sale on the web,

and a ban on those involved in making the album from entering China. "The

predictably hostile response to the album from Chinese internet users as

reported by an official Chinese media outlet reflects continued attempts to

suppress any support for Tibet at a time of crisis for the Tibetan people,

as well as the level of entrenched misinformation about Tibet propagated by

the Beijing government among the Chinese public," said Kate Saunders from

the International Campaign for Tibet, which is supporting the project.



    Proceeds that the foundation receives support initiatives promoting

peace and Tibetan cultural preservation projects. Details at

http://www.ArtofPeaceFoundation.org. A video for the album, 'Songs for

Tibet - Freedom is Expression,' is available on YouTube.



    About The Art of Peace Foundation



    The Art of Peace Foundation is a 501(C)(3) non-profit founded on the

Dalai Lama's belief of 'Universal Responsibility.' The Foundation's mission

is to engage the world in a proactive way while remaining grounded in the

Dalai Lama's vision of nonviolence. Please visit

http://www.ArtOfPeaceFoundation.org.



    About Meridian Trust



    The Art of Peace Foundation also works with their UK partner, Meridian

Trust, to preserve Tibetan cultural traditions. Meridian Trust's patron is

the Dalai Lama, who has asked them to raise the awareness of Tibetan

cultural traditions. http://www.Meridian-Trust.org



    About the International Campaign for Tibet



    The International Campaign for Tibet (http://www.savetibet.org) works to

promote human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet.



    ICT:



    -- monitors and reports on human rights, environmental and socio

economic conditions in Tibet,



    -- advocates for Tibetans imprisoned for their political or religious

beliefs,



    -- works with governments to develop policies and programs to help

Tibetans,



    -- secures humanitarian and development assistance for Tibetans,



    -- mobilizes individuals and the international community to take action

on behalf of Tibetans, and



    -- promotes self-determination for the Tibetan people through

negotiations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.





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