Image of Scott Mortensen on Everest summit in May 21st, 2008 (click to enlarge).
"I have a request..." Screenshot from Youtube video "Message from Tibet."
Image courtesy of the Sad Smoky Mountains project (click to enlarge).
The Chinese Olympic flame visited Everest and returned to Tibet for a second time - passing tanks and troops through the locked down Lhasa. Alberto decided to "ignite" a bell tower in his home town, a small Italian village, to make "the bells sound with what memory withholds."
By the first ignition set for May 11, the project had grown into a mega event. More than 100 summits were involved including red flare climbers making a difficult ascent on Matterhorn.
Screenshot from Youtube video of red flare climbers who made a difficult ascent on Matterhorn and lit the flame on May 11 (click to enlarge).
"During a pre-summit rehab in lower altitude Namche Bazaar, I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of Tibetans who had witnessed the oppression of their homeland, firsthand. The despair reflected in their eyes made it impossible for me to climb in a vacuum of self-aggrandizement." Scott Mortensen and French Dominique Gilbert (image) borrowed the Tibetans' protest shirt and took it to the top of the world.
Italy (image), France, Switzerland, Spain, Slovenia - red flares for freedom were lit all over the European peaks, and then - statements of courage arrived from Mount Everest...
Norwegian Inge Solheim flying the Tibetan flag at the North Pole. Image by Reuters.
Alberto moved, and we moved with him.
Screen shot from CNN video of climbers' banner on the Golden gate bridge (click to enlarge).
...and Greenland! (fltr) Ida Bruusgaard (Norway/England), Sam Nichols (England), Correne Erasmus-Coetzer (South Africa) and Jayne Puttman (Australia). "Tom Alkin (England) who took the photo also wanted to be in the picture, but someone had to take the photo," wrote Correne, "This has even more significance for me with the xenophobia that we experience in South Africa." Image courtesy of Correne Erasmus-Coetzer (click to enlarge).
Interestingly enough, the final ignition happens to take place not only on the Chinese Olympics inauguration, but also on a date that spells out 08/08/08. Right Association; Right Knowledge; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; Right Speech, Right Behavior, Right Absorption - and the Right Livelihood! That's the 8 truths of the Dharma wheel.
The time has come!

Posted: Aug 07, 2008 06:02 am EDT
"I have a request...if those of you in exile start this movement...we will follow your lead from inside Tibet. We place our hope in you. We will back it up with action and support. Whatever campaign you start over there, inside Tibet, all of us are fully ready and waiting."

It was Friday, early morning Mountain time, and the summits outside our huge picture windows were slowly tinted pink. Blurry eyed, we followed the K2 expedition websites.

Showcasing the route the climbers were negotiating at that moment and as a tribute to a fallen mate, Hugues and Norit had posted a link to Unterkircher's amazing K2 video on youtube.

Watching it, our eyes fell on another clip. "Message from Tibet" it said.

The messengers

During WW2, a few incredible concentration camp prisoners were going in and out of Auschwitz and Treblinka as if they had free travel passes. They would escape over the barb wires at night, jump a train to Warsaw, warn the incarnated Jews there, and then let themselves be transported back into the camps again.

The youtube video shows a Tibetan who has escaped Tibet for a pilgrim tour. He left this message on the video clip, and headed back into Tibet again.

still they continue...

In ExWeb's previous story, "Mammon feeding Lucifer" we described how TimesOnline reported that monks have vanished mysteriously from Lhasa. "Few monks remain in Lhasa's three most important monasteries," said the news source, "Many have disappeared, their whereabouts a mystery."

Most of the monks in the Drepung, Sera and Ganden monasteries, all young ethnic Tibetans and more than 1,000 in total, have reportedly been transferred to prisons, according to Times.

Others in Tibet are protesting the abuse. "They know that they will be arrested, still they continue to go out and demonstrate," Tibetan family members told UK Times.

Mountaineers for Tibet

Last November we discussed Rakaposhi with Climber/artist Alberto Peruffo who told ExWeb that he's eyeing Kanjut Sar next, and perhaps a return to Rakaposhi NW, in a very small team. Come this April, we had other topics on the table.

Before the Olympic torch arrived to mount Tibet's (not China's) beloved Everest; the voice of Lhasa sounded off.

Why did we care? Beside the fact that we are humans, among the people killed, imprisoned and violated were our porters and high altitude guides.

Climbers from the Americas, Australia, Europe and Asia were banned from Tibet, and restricted in Nepal - following a "democratic" election there (won by the Maoists - a minority in pre-elections but the only candidate keeping their own, private army).

Everest mountaineers were denied the use of sat phones, cameras and even their safety radios were to be eavesdropped. Sharpshooters were placed in high camps and Chinese plain-clothes police patrolled Base Camp.

Journalists were banned from speaking to mountaineers. A Canadian climber reported, "we shall not mention the words Tibet or Free Tibet we cant speak about the subject, neither can we say anything which could sound offensive towards China.

It gave us a good idea of the Tibetans' everyday reality.

Climbers without Borders

ExplorersWeb used the ban for increased special reports about human rights abuse in China, such as the organ donor business, the treatment of Tibetan and other minorities, the slave force who built the Olympic village and the nation's ties to Nepal Maoists.

"They are lying to us," we wrote and set up the "Climbers Without Borders" hotline, for anonymous reports from Everest BC. Climbers and explorers wishing to stage a protest for Tibet were told to either fly a Tibetan flag or write "Free Tibet" on any feature in their surrounding (such as in the snow, on rocks, in the sand etc) and send the image to us for publishing.

Soon photos arrived. From all over the world, Greenland, North Pole, the Alps and finally - the summit of Mount Everest. In terms of global spread; our "torch route" sure beat the Chinese.

Sad Smoky mountains

Alberto Peruffo and Fattoria Artistica Antersass meanwhile fought their own battle, with the Sad Smoky mountain project. The project grew into a mega event by May 11 - the first ignition phase - with more than 100 summits involved.

Now the time has come for the Final Ignition, set for the official Olympics inauguration day, August 8th, 2008, regardless of weather. At 1 pm European time, synchronized (as far as possible) flares for human rights are to be lit on top of mountains, hills, skyscrapers, and other monuments in Europe, America (North and South) and Asia.

The evening before, on August 7, people around the world are instructed to also light a red candle in solidarity with the people of Tibet.

The initiary

Here goes the flare initiary from Alberto:

FRIDAY 8th AUGUST, 13.00 l.t.

Every group will act upon the needs dictated by the local weather conditions and the different objectives, mountains or cities.

Here are the three ignition options:

1. For who will act in optimal conditions and will have good visibility conditions, I invite you to respect with exact accuracy the ignition time at 13.00;

2. For who will not be able to reach the objectives, or will be forced to act in difficult visibility conditions, I invite you to light the smokes just the same, at 13.00 from the point in which you find at that time, and to document everything in the best possible way (also photos and videos made in not-optimal conditions will be useful to document the collective work in the reprocessing that we will do next);

3. last option, for who is busy in objectives with difficult conditions, where the arrival on the top is not so granted for 13.00, the idea is to light the smokes at the moment of the arriving at the summit.

The important thing is to act, to give a signal, a symbolic and concrete signal, to document and then to come back home. In peace and silence.

It's obligatory to bring back to home all signal smoke envelopes or other residues.

Rescue officials will be officially informed about the action on the dates described below. It's advisable however to speak to your local police department as well to let them know that your red flare is not a rescue signal.

Prudence and determination.
Happy ignitions to everyone and a sincere hug.

Wednesday 6th August
[leaving to Paris]

ExWeb's call for flares in New York

Team ExWeb have already done manifestations in Europe and Africa, but due to the current events on K2, the US team has been held up in Colorado.

This team will light a flare on a special peak; but if you are in our beloved home base New York City at the time; we would deeply appreciate if you lit a flare there for us.

The flares are easy to find in auto shops or in outdoor stores.

The eight truths

The final ignition happens to take place not only on the Chinese Olympics kick-off, but also on a date that spells out 08/08/08.

Number eight is very important to Buddhists. Right Association; Right Knowledge; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; Right Speech, Right Behavior, Right Absorption and the Right Livelihood are the 8 truths of the Dharma wheel. Together with the Four Noble Truths it constitutes the gist of Buddhism. and have merged to create this "Light Protest" on a world scale. Together we can change the world, as other have done before us. All it takes is a red flare and/or a red candle, a camera!
Video: "A message from Tibet"

Berlin, Paris, New York, Rome - Italian artist/climber Alberto Peruffo wants red flares lit in all these cities. The simple civil action will result in a monumental work of art and you are invited: lit a red flare on a high terrace or roof of any skyscraper, ancient architectural structure or tall building anywhere in the world. Send the pic to Alberto.

The title of the resulting poster will be "Lit Your Own Flame" and the manifest, along with other art forms planned for the event, will be an alternative to the Chinese Olympic torch, with the red smoke around the world aimed to show global support for human rights and Tibet.

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