08 August 2008

Shake Hands All the Way to Beijing

I just received this from Avaaz.org:
Dear friends,

The Dalai Lama's Olympic handshake is circling the world, headed for Beijing. Click here to see more and join the call for dialogue!

As the Beijing Olympics begin, the world looks on with mixed emotions. It's a moment which should bring us closer together, and Chinese citizens deserve their excitement -- but the Chinese government still hasn't opened meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama, or changed its stance on Burma, Darfur and other pressing issues.

Even worse, extremists in China are promoting the view that Olympic activism like ours is anti-Chinese. We can't stay silent, but we also can't let our efforts be abused to divide people. So what can we do? The answer comes from the Dalai Lama himself, in an unambiguous gesture of Olympic spirit and friendship: a handshake.

It began in London, passed hand to hand by thousands of us -- now the handshake has gone online, and is criss-crossing the globe on its way to Beijing. All of us can join, Chinese and non-Chinese, and it comes with a promise: to hold ALL our governments accountable where they fall short, in Tibet, Iraq, Burma or beyond. We'll deliver our message in a bold media campaign in Hong Kong and around the world: Click below to see how the Olympic handshake started, sign up to join in, and watch it circle the globe --


The worldwide outcry has produced a little progress, but much resistance from Chinese officials so far. If we are to see advances not setbacks after the Games, we need to show both that our voices will never fall silent, and that our challenge is a positive one.

We have one last chance to reclaim the spirit of the Olympics, with the message of friendship and dialogue we share with the Dalai Lama. The more people join the global handshake, the more powerful our message will be when it hits the Chinese and international media. So let's forward this email on, encouraging everyone to join in. "One World, One Dream" is an ideal that's bigger than the Olympics -- it's time for citizens around the world to take it back.

With hope and respect,

Paul, Ricken, Ben, Milena, Graziela, Iain, Pascal, Veronique and the whole Avaaz team

PS For a report on Avaaz's campaigning so far, see:

In a representative survey of us from all over the world, 92% of respondents recommended we pursue this handshake instead of the often-suggested boycott -- there's a strong consensus that this is the way to get our message across right now.

For more about the Dalai Lama's support for the Olympics and positions on Tibet and China, see:


Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.

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