"SAN FRANCISCO -- The Olympic torch relay got under way in San Francisco -- and the flame promptly vanished.
With thousands of protesters gathered to condemn China's human rights policies, protesters had lined the streets Wednesday waiting for the torch relay to begin.
As the ceremony began, the first torchbearer took the Olympic flame from a lantern brought to the stage and held it aloft before running into a warehouse. A motorcycle escort departed, but the torchbearer was nowhere in sight.
Buses and vans later left the warehouse, but it was unclear where the Olympic flame would reappear."
There has been a tremendous amount of protests surrounding the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay because of China's human rights policies with Tibet. Protesters even scaled the Eiffel tower this week in Paris trying to put out the flames and screaming "Free Tibet!".
What the hell is going on in Tibet that's making everyone go crazy? I've heard "Free Tibet" a hundred times over the past few years but honestly I've never bothered to digg deeper. Isn't the Olympics about sports and not politics? I need to get to the bottom of this so I can stop feeling like an ignorant American.
Here are some facts that I found:
1. China's invasion by 40,000 troops in 1950 was an act of unprovoked aggression. There is no generally accepted legal basis for China's claim of sovereignty
2. Some 1.2 million Tibetans are estimated to have been killed by the Chinese since 1950.
3. Beatings and torture with electric shock batons are common; prisoners have died from such treatment. In 1992, Palden Gyatso, a monk who had been tortured by the Chinese for over 30 years, bribed prison guards to hand over implements of torture. The weapons, smuggled out of Tibet, were displayed in the west in 1994 and 1995.
4.The Chinese have refused to allow independent observers to attend so-called public trials. Prison sentences are regularly decided before the trial. Fewer than 2% of cases in China are won by the defence.
5.Chinese replaced Tibetan as the official language. Despite official pronouncements, there has been no practical change in this policy. Without an adequate command of Chinese, Tibetans find it difficult to get work in the state sector.
6.Secondary school children are taught all classes in Chinese. Although English is a requirement for most university courses, Tibetan school children cannot learn English unless they forfeit study of their own language. Many children are sent away to China for education, usually for a period of seven years.
7.China has admitted to dumping nuclear waste on the Tibetan plateau. There is a 20 km2 dump for radioactive pollutants near Lake Kokonor, the largest lake on the Tibetan plateau.
Here are some very graphic photos of dead Tibetans in March of 2008.
If you're still with me after viewing those photos then I'll try and explain to you my thoughts so far. I was hoping to be able to write a story about the Olympic protests and what it means to this tradition, hence this is a sports website, but instead I started finding out more about what is going on in Tibet and some of the horrific things that are happening there and couldn't simply ignore it.
China has control of Tibet and seem to be treating the Tibetans as if they weren't human, as if they didn't wake up to the same sun every morning as they did. What gives China the right to control another? I'll tell you how, it's actually called Imperialism and it's been going on for centuries. Don't sound shocked and don't be a hypocrite and denounce this. How do you think the British, French, and Spanish came to have so many colonies? Do you think they simply just found all that land or do you think they simply took it, by force? There is a controversial ad out by Absolut Vodka right now about the U.S. seizing land from Mexico after the U.S. - Mexican War. Does the U.S. actually have valid claims to this land? Open up a history book and might think otherwise.
So why "Free Tibet" now? Why can't we free a hundred other places that need our help and support? Why does Tibet get the Olympic spotlight? It's a sporting event and Tibet has nothing to do with the Olympic Torch Ceremony.
This is why:
I say good for the protesters. Yes, they're technically seperate things and in a perfect world we should keep them seperate but most people, like myself, did not care about freeing Tibet before they interrupted my silly torch relay and now I do. Something needs to be done, and yes a hundred other places in the world need a miracle as well, but we need to start somewhere. So why not Tibet?
Here is a website that will give you some information on what to do if you want to help: