A group of young Tibetan Youth Association in Europe (TYAE) activists executed a direct action yesterday at a luxury International Olympic Committee (IOC) hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland where IOC officials were convening. Both Beijing (China) and Almaty (Kazakhstan) are competing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The TYAE action took place a day after the two cities presented before the committee at the Olympic Museum.
The action in Lausanne was planned by a Tibetan woman, with 5 men and 8 women in total participating.
This incident comes on the heels of 141 Tibetan self-immolations since 2009, including 25 women. In March 2008, a wave of protests spread throughout Tibet in the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games. Tibetan activist groups coordinated a global campaign that summer to spotlight the Chinese government’s human rights violations through highly publicized direct actions, including in Beijing.
The 2008 “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet” campaign brought groups like Students for a Free Tibet to global prominence and highlighted the critical role of Tibetan women at the forefront of the Tibetan freedom movement. That the key organizers of the TYAE action were Tibetan women is thus reflective of the instrumental role of women in Tibetan resistance history. TYAE has honored this history, with women presidents leading the organization from 2008 to now.
A political theater performance outside the hotel included a Tibetan woman playing a Chinese policeman beating a self-immolation protestor, also played by a woman, on the ground. A spokesperson for the group included another young Tibetan woman standing beside a monk who had been tortured by the Chinese government pleading to the media that the IOC “take responsibility” because “we are also citizens of this world, and we also deserve equal rights.”
The IOC will conduct a secret ballot vote at its 128th Session and announce the host city for the 2022 Olympic games on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
A petition has been launched against awarding the winter games to Beijing.