Welcomed by waving flags, signs, cheers and smiling faces of the local Tibetan community, Tirian Mink
arrived at the Portland Airport at 12:47 pm today. Mink returned from Beijing, where he was arrested and then detained by the Chinese authorities for protesting against the Chinese government's treatment and occupation of Tibet. Mink, a native of Portland and a former construction project manager, was arrested last Tuesday, Aug. 5, along with three other protesters—Phill Bartel from Denver, and Ian Thom and Lucy Marion, both British citizens—for displaying a pro-Tibetan banner across from the Olympic stadium in Beijing.
Amid prolonged applause and tear-soaked faces, and draped in dozens of white Tibetan Katag scarves, Mink addressed the crowd of reporters and supporters. He said he believed his actions were a huge success in bringing attention to the “human-rights atrocities that are currently taking place in Tibet.”
“I was in a 24-hour media blackout and I didn't even know anybody had even heard about it until I got back to Los Angeles,” said Mink, “I called my family and they said I was all over the news and I was so happy.”
Mink said he intends to continue pushing for China to engage in a meaningful dialogue that “would lead to an independent Tibet, some form of an autonomous government or at the very least the ability to practice their own religion and to be free from the military oppression.”
According to Mink, he and his counterparts had scouted out the area to display their banner over a week ago. He says they chose the poles [to hang the banner on] and the time when there would be the least amount of security there. “We walked up to the poles, jumped over a couple barriers and just started climbing,” he explained. On Tuesday the Chinese authorities detained Mink for almost 15 hours and took his cell phone and credit card. Mink says he expected up to 15 days in detention, but pointed out that if he had been a Tibetan he might have been detained forever.
According to Tenzing Kyungratsang, general secretary for the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress
for Portland and Vancouver, Tirian's actions were a big surprise and his actions were very bold. “He is a hero to us and our cause, and that's why we're here,” Kyungratsang said. Along with dozens of members of the local Tibetan community, he came out to show support for Mink and the risk he took to keep attention focused on the oppression of Tibet.