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 -- Beijing authorities received 77 applications to hold protests, but all were 'withdrawn, suspended or rejected.'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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