In 1989 the Chinese communist army stormed a mass demonstration in Tiananmen Square, killing several hundred people. In this image, a man blocking the tanks with his own body.
Tina Sjogren to Vaclav Havel: Goodbye Mr. President
Posted: Dec 18, 2011 05:59 pm EST
(Tina Sjogren) We knew that the Chinese Olympic Games would be different when already in 2007, in spite of a climbing permit for Everest north side, Prague's city Mayor Bem Pavel was refused entry in Tibet for being too outspoken against Communism.
By mid March 2008, over 200 military vehicles and an estimated 10,000 People's Liberation Army soldiers entered Lhasa. Door-to-door searches commenced.
Media was kicked out, reporters' hotel rooms were searched, memory cards were confiscated and pictures were deleted from their computers.
Hu Jintao and his accomplices kept assuring that sport shouldn't be politicized as the city was blacked-out and reports of mass executions spread on the internet.
Big business, world leaders and the Olympic committee scrambled to defend the actions of the red Chinese. All except for a few such as Vaclav Havel.
The leading revolutionary and political dissident didn't have to have the obvious explained to him. Through his life he had been imprisoned, subjected to constant government surveillance, and banned from his work by the Communist occupiers of his country. In a rare real-life happy end, Havel finally became the first president of a free Czechoslovakia.
During Tibet's darkest hour, Vaclav Havel posted a call for the entire world to by all means available step up pressure on the Chinese government to allow full, international insight. He asked the Olympic Committee to seriously reconsider the summer games unless the conditions were fulfilled.
Here a reminder of what Havel wrote in 2008, on a Guardian "comment is free" blog:
"The reaction of the Chinese authorities to the Tibetan protests evokes echoes of the totalitarian practices that many of us remember from the days before communism in Central and Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989: harsh censorship of the domestic media, blackouts of reporting by foreign media from China, refusal of visas to foreign journalists, and blaming the unrest on the 'Dalai Lama's conspiratorial clique' and other unspecified dark forces supposedly manipulated from abroad."
"Indeed, the language used by some Chinese government representatives and the official Chinese media is a reminder of the worst of times during the Stalinist and Maoist eras."
"But the most dangerous development of this unfortunate situation is the current attempt to seal off Tibet from the rest of the world."
"Even as we write, it is clear that China's rulers are trying to reassure the world that peace, quiet, and 'harmony' have again prevailed in Tibet. We all know this kind of peace from what has happened in the past in Burma, Cuba, Belarus and a few other countries - it is called the peace of the graveyard."
Vaclav Havel died today at the age of 75. Tibet remains quiet. Let us not forget.
Daughter to a dissident family that fled oppression in former Czechoslovakia during the 1968 Prague spring, in 2008 ExplorersWeb co-founder Tina Sjogren followed the situation in Lhasa closely as part of her reporting about Mount Everest. The website was heavily attacked from China during the event.
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