Torchbearer Signals Solidarity With Tibet

majora-carter.jpgMajora Carter, 41, the founder of Sustainable South Bronx and, was selected as an Olympic torch bearer by one of the relay’s international sponsors, the Coca-Cola Corporation. From the New York Sun:

A New York environmental activist selected to carry the Olympic torch, Majora Carter of the Bronx, signaled her solidarity with Tibetan protesters by unfurling a Tibetan flag soon after she was handed the torch here yesterday afternoon.

Ms. Carter said that after she pulled the flag from her sleeve the torch was quickly taken from her and she was pushed out of the Olympic entourage. “The Chinese security and cops were on me like white on rice, it was no joke,” she told the Associated Press. “They pulled me out of the race, and then San Francisco police officers pushed me back into the crowd on the side of the street.”

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Majora Carter was one of two people at yesterday’s Olympic torch relay in San Francisco to unveil a Tibetan flag while she carried the torch. Read her statement below:

Only days ago, we commemorated the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – a man who fought and died for freedom and justice everywhere. It is with that same spirit that I stand before you now. My name is Majora Carter, and I am from the South Bronx, in NYC. It is a part of the world known for some good things like the birthplace of Hip Hop, and for some bad things – like a reputation for crime and urban blight.

What you may not know is that it is a glaring example of environmental injustice here in America, it is a poor Latino and Black community that suffers from severe environmental degradation, causing impacts on our health, wealth and spiritual well-being. But there are places just like the South Bronx all over the world, where decisions about locating environmental burdens like power plants, diesel truck routes, and waste facilities are made by people who will not feel the effects of those decisions. We have been able to make real changes in my community but the battle for environmental justice is far from over.

I was honored to have been asked to be an Olympic torchbearer because it represents to me what the games are about: passing the torch as a symbol of the unity around a great purpose. Today, I carry that flame in support of a great purpose – freedom. Freedom everywhere: the freedom to assemble and, the freedom of speech. I know what it feels like to have your voice ignored; and I appreciate how important it is when another voice joins with your own in pursuit of that freedom.

So, although I have no longstanding connection to Tibet, I would not be able to call myself a drum major for justice if I did not speak my concern for Tibetans inside Tibet who are being persecuted by the Chinese government for expressing their desire for freedom. I want to use this moment to shed light on these subjects; but I also want to shed light on the planned route for the torch through Tibet after it leaves this hemisphere.


Velasquez for News
Majora Carter of the South Bronx, who ran with the Olympic torch in San Francisco Wednesday, was quickly ushered away after pulling a Tibetan flag from her sleeve.

To let the Olympic torch run through Tibet would only provoke more opportunities for human rights abuses to happen there. It will not bring people together, but more likely incite them. And even if they resist in the most non-violent manner, we have seen the responses to those types of protests in the past, and can have little doubt that the non-violence will not be reciprocated. It would place the IOC in a position similar to sanctioning the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross in Montgomery, Alabama. Although that freedom is at least protected in this country, it is not something one wants to be associated with.

The IOC must not let its name and stature be used to sanction the repressions of the past and I encourage Coca-Cola and all other sponsors of the torch relay to use their position to push China not to bring the torch through Tibet.

When I pass the flame today, it will be the same flame that Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have passed on to me, and to all of you.It will be the flame of my ancestors, and all of their struggles. The flame that I pass on to the games in China will be – in its own small way – the flame of liberation, and it will be beautiful, and it will be for everyone.

More reports on New York Daily News: Olympic torch bearer from Bronx in Tibet protest.

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