The Boston Globe
August 18, 2008
Kurt Langer says he was followed by
undercover police officers for more than a
day, then arrested by Chinese authorities
and interrogated before he was deported
to the United States.
The Boston native and board chairman of
Students for a Free Tibet arrived in Boston
last night and outlined the frightening
ordeal he endured after protesting at the
Olympic Games in Beijing to raise
awareness for Tibet.
Langer, 34, and five other demonstrators
from his group were arrested and forced
out of China on Friday after hanging a 375-square-foot “Free Tibet” sign from the
faÃ§ade of the headquarters of state-run
China Central Television. The organization
also protested at the Birds Nest Stadium,
in Tiananmen Square, and at the Chinese
Ethnic Culture Park.
“It was a little disconcerting,” Langer said
of his arrest. “I was detained in Beijing for
Langer, who now lives in New York City,
developed an interest in Tibet during a
semester abroad while a student at Brown
University, where he founded a chapter of
Students for a Free Tibet.
“The more of the personal stories I heard,
the more I wanted to do to raise
awareness,” he said.”
I always knew it [getting arrested &
deported] was going to be a possibility.”
In an interview with ABC News Friday, the
vice president of the Beijing Olympic
Organizing Committee, Wang Wei, called
the protest at CCTV “a very unwelcome and
unacceptable kind of activity in China” and
said that conditions in Tibet were good.
While in Beijing, Langer had been acting as
a spokesman for Students for a Free Tibet.
Last night, about 30 Tibetan-Americans
met him at Logan International Airport.
“I didn’t know [supporters would be here],”
Langer said. I felt very honored.”
When Langer arrived, the group presented
him with a white ceremonial scarf, draped
a Tibetan flag over his shoulders, and gave
him a bouquet of purple and white flowers.
Ngawang Jordan, a 30-year-old volunteer
for Students for a Free Tibet, organized the
group of greeters, most of whom said they
had never met Langer. Jordan was born in
India to Tibetan parents and moved to
Boston in 1999, “for a better life,” he said.
“We really felt touched by it,” Jordan
said. “He’s a non-Tibetan supporter, and
he’s really working for the Tibetan cause.”
The Tibetan community in Boston, Jordan
said, was grateful that Langer had taken a
stand for Tibet; most Tibetan-Americans
cannot get visas to return to China simply
because of their names, Jordan said.
Chodon Tenzin, 49, of Boston, was among
the local Tibetan-Americans who gathered
at the airport to greet Langer. She said she
wanted to go to Beijing for the Olympics,
but was denied a visa.
“Something like this, I can do,” she
said. “We have a responsibility to do
something, to show the world, that Tibet
needs to be free.”
As the Games approached, protests about
alleged rights abuses in Tibet escalated.
The Tibetan-American community and Students for a Free Tibet maintain Tibetans
are not free under Chinese rule.
“We really appreciate his support and the
risk and trouble he took,” said Pema
Tsewang, 52, a Boston resident who works
for a company publishing books about
Tibetan Buddhism. “He was able to show
the spotlight about what is going on in
Tibet right now and how the Tibetans are
“No matter what it takes, Tibet will beÂ free,” Tenzin said.