'Tibetan Olympics' torch arrives
February 25, 2008, 12:00 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A group of Tibetans living in Taiwan and their Taiwanese friends called for support yesterday for a "Tibetan Olympics" in a bid to denigrate Beijing, which has barred Tibet from entering a delegation to the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in Beijing in August.
A ceremony marking the symbolic arrival of the so-called "Tibetan Olympics torch" was held at the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall in Taipei yesterday under the sponsorship of Tibetans living in Taipei and the private group Taiwan Friends of Tibet.
People shouted "Free Tibet" and waved banners reading "Boycott Beijing Olympics" on the Taipei leg of the torch relay, led by Miss Tibet 2006 Tsering Chungtak.
Speaking at a news conference, Chungtak — who quit a beauty pageant in Malaysia last year over China's pressure to have her "Miss Tibet" sash replaced with one reading "Miss Tibet-China" — said the Tibetan Olympics torch relay is being carried out to demonstrate the importance of freedom and human rights for Tibetan people and how they have been deprived of their right to take part in international athletic games like the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Chungtak — who arrived in Taipei Feb. 19 at the invitation of the Miss Taiwan Beauty Contest organizers — said Tibetans are peace-loving people who also have good sportsmanship.
Meanwhile, Chou Mei-li, president of the Taiwan Friends of Tibet, said that in order to protest against Beijing's denial of participation by Tibetans in the Olympics, the "Tibetan Olympics" and a worldwide torch relay are designed to let the world know better how the Tibetan people have been discriminated against politically by China.
The "Tibetan Olympics" — slated to be held May 15-25 in Dharamsala, northern India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based — is an initiative to offer a platform for young Tibetans to celebrate the spirit of the Olympics, according to Chou.
The "Tibetan Olympics torch, " which departed from Delhi Jan. 30, will go around the world, making one full circle touching 10 major cities in five continents, including Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Maui, San Francisco, New York City, London and Jerusalem, according to the organizers.
Tsering Chungtak said in Taipei several days ago that she did not regret making the decision to quit the Malaysian beauty pageant in protest against Beijing's bullying. The 22-year-old is a student at the University of Delhi in India.
She said she will follow the Dalai Lama's moderate approach in dealing with China. Tibet is currently officially claimed and administered by China, although many Tibetans place their allegiance with the exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.