Photograph: Rick Rycroft/AP
After decades of repression under Chinese rule, the Tibetan people's frustrations have burst onto the streets in protests and riots. With the spotlight of the upcoming Olympic Games now on China, Tibetans are crying out to the world for change.
The Chinese government has said that the protesters who have not yet surrendered "will be punished". Its leaders are right now considering a crucial choice between escalating brutality or dialogue that could determine the future of Tibet, and China.
I'm not at all sure if it's possible to affect this historic choice. But I'm pretty sure that like any country China cares about its international reputation. And anyway even if it doesn't have an impact China's President Hu Jintao needs to hear that the 'Made in China' brand and the upcoming Olympics in Beijing can succeed only if he makes the right choice.
Avaaz.org the global internet advocacy portal is trying to mobilise an avalanche of global people power to get President Hu's attenion.
In response to the Dalai Lama's call for restraint and dialogue Avaaz is calling for people around the world to support the Dalai Lama by signing its petition to President Hu urging him to "show restraint and respect for human rights in your response to the protests in Tibet, and to address the concerns of all Tibetans by opening meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama."
Along with over half a million people at the time of writing, I've signed the petition and I hope that if you might consider doing so too. And if you do you'll be invited to share it with your friends, which will help even more.
I hope that President Hu will recognize that the greatest danger to Chinese stability and development comes from hardliners who advocate escalating repression, not from Tibetans who seek dialogue and reform.
If it reaches the million mark Avaaz is committed to deliver the petition directly to Chinese officials in London, New York, and Beijing.
The Tibetan people have suffered quietly for decades. It is finally their moment to speak and I hope we can help them be heard.
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