The 2008 Beijing Olympics and Students for a Free Tibet: A Battle of Propaganda and Sovereignty
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It is the position of those within the Free Tibet movement that since 1949 Tibet has been illegally occupied by China. Between China and Tibet there has been a long and convoluted history which the Chinese interpret as establishing Tibet as a region of China, while many Tibetans conversely argue that the relationship between the two states was unclear with Tibet exercising extensive autonomy. Tibetan leaders and citizens in exile routinely call for international assistance to regain their lost country and protect their cultural identity. Many states have expressed their support for the Tibetans and have lamented their situation, though few have offered substantial, prolonged support. A network of Tibetan organizations has formed to support the religious leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, as well as the Tibetan-Government-in-Exile's continued efforts to pressure the Chinese on the issues of human rights and autonomy. These organizations, in coalition with scholars, Tibetans, activists, and sympathizers of Tibet's plight in the cluthes of imperialism have created a global "Free Tibet movement." In 2001 this movement, along with those advocating for increased global climate change consciousness in China, the protection of human rights and religious freedom, the end of forced labor camps, freedom of speech, and an end to the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan were outraged when Beijing was given the honor of hosting the 2008 summer Olympics (Nairn 2007). These groups have argued that many of the policies of the Chinese Communist government stand in contradiction to the principles of the Olympic movement and that the Chinese will use the Games as an opportunity to spread propaganda for their views. On the part of the Free Tibet movement, a battle has ensued on the streets of Beijing as well as for global media attention as organizations attempt to counter Chinese propaganda with their own messages. This has resulted in the innovative use of technology, activists, and the media as the Free Tibet movement struggles to have its voice heard.