Over 40 Olympic athletes download Tibet album: Rights group

August 19th, 2008 - 12:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 19 (DPA) More than 40 Olympic athletes have downloaded a Tibet album called “Songs for Tibet” to show solidarity with the Himalayan people’s struggle for more freedom, according to a Tibetan rights group.The athletes downloaded the songs as part of a project to highlight the plight of Tibetans, who are subjected to religious restrictions from the government and an encroachment by Han Chinese in their Himalayan homeland.

The athletes from North America, Europe and even Beijing contacted The Art of Peace Foundation, which initiated the project, by e-mail, according to a statement issued by the Washington DC office of the International Campaign for Tibet.

Through the Foundation’s website, athletes downloaded the album as an act of solidarity with Tibet, the group said.

International organisations including the International Campaign for Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet, and Team Darfur helped contact the athletes, who were assured anonymity, the group said.

The album “Songs for Tibet: The Art of Peace,” is a top-selling rock download in the US, Canada, several European countries and Japan.

It reached number four on the Billboard album download charts in its first week of sales, the group said.

Over a hundred download sites and on-line retailers sell the album which has tracks from 20 musicians, including Sting, Dave Matthews, Alanis Morissette, John Mayer and Moby.

Michael Wohl, executive director of the Art of Peace Foundation was quoted in the statement as saying: “We are delighted that Olympics athletes took the opportunity to download this unique album, which conveys a message of hope and solidarity with the Tibetan people, as well as a commitment to freedom of expression that cannot be suppressed.”

China’s official media, however, recently reported that Chinese internet users denounced the top-selling Tibet album.

A report on the semi-official news portals china.org.cn said some Chinese people have called for a boycott of products by companies that make the album available for sale on the web, and a ban on people involved in making the album enter China.

The reaction from Chinese people reflects long-term and ongoing misinformation from the Chinese government about the Tibet issue, the pro-Tibet group said.

Chinese people see Tibet as an issue of territorial integrity and sovereignty and have been trained from a young age to believe Tibet has always been a part of China and that the Chinese government has improved the lives of Tibetans.

Economic investment in the region however has led to an influx of Han Chinese, whom Tibetan groups said are the main beneficiaries of development. Government policies also dilute the population and endanger Tibetan culture, they said.

Proceeds from the project will support initiatives for promoting peace and Tibetan cultural preservation projects, the statement said.

In the run-up to and during the ongoing Beijing Olympics, Tibetans and supporters have protested over rights violations in Tibet.

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