"Free Tibet! Hear Tibet! China Out of Tibet! Long Live the Dalai Lama!"
Free Tibet! Human Rights for Tibet! China Out of Tibet! Long Live the Dalai Lama!... These were just few of the chants that could be heard at the San Francisco March 10 demonstration yesterday. Approximately 6-700 Tibetans and Tibet Supporters from across the San Francisco Bay Area turned out for the gatherings, march and rallies over the course of the day.
Actually, the day's events started across the bay in Berkeley where Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean and Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington participated in a Tibetan Flag raising ceremony attended by about 150-200 people, mostly Tibetans. Mayor Dean herself hoisted up the Tibetan flag to Tibetan tunes. We sang the Tibetan National Anthern and the Dhen-Tsik Monlan prayer chant and then both Mayor Dean & Councilmember Worthington gave speeches marking the occasion. Ugyen Tsering, Vice-President of the Tibetan Association of Northern California also gave a speech commemorating the occasion.
Hundreds of Tibetans and supporters gathered at Yerba Buena gardens in San Francisco by 11am. We sang the Tibetan National Anthem and listened to a statement by US Congressional Representative Nancy Pelosi read by Catherine Dodd, her District Director. Tibet Justice Center President Dennis Cusack and leaders of other Bay Area TSGs, including RTYC, gave speeches. Additionally, former Chairman of the Kashag, the Cabinet of HH Dalai Lama, Tenzin Tethong spoke.
The actual march began led by a vehicle which displayed a large picture HH the Dalai Lama. It was encouraging to see hundreds of people marching the streets of San Francisco for Tibet despite the repeated forecasts of rain (which did not occur). We proceeded to City Hall where we met the press. HH Dalai Lama's statement was read from the steps of City Hall by Jamyang Wangden, Area Coordinator for Students for Free Tibet. We left City Hall and marched toward Geary Street toward the Chinese Consulate.
We arrived at the Chinese Consulate at about 2:00 pm singing, praying, and demonstrating. We listened to special guest speaker Alice Walker, author of the Color Purple read her spiritually stirring statement in which she stated that it was "unbefitting a country with a rich history of China to persecute Tibetans...and cause so much destruction in Tibet. She started her speech by getting the crowd of hundreds to repeat after her, "We are one people, one earth." She said that she did not understand how a great country such as China could persecute her "Tibetan cousins." She ended by reiterating that we "are one people, one earth," a message that greatly complemented HH Dalai Lama's official statement. We also listened to a speech by Marjery Farrar, representative from US Congressional Representative Tom Lantos's office.
Topgen from the Tibetan Youth Congress sent an alternative message to the Chinese consulate. He referenced the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the US and said that these were acts of people who acted out of sheer desparation and anger. He said that if the Chinese government were smart that they would negotiate with HH Dalai Lama while there is still time. Even though he "opposes violence" there could be people in Tibet who would also be driven by anger and desparation. He wondered why the US did not include China in the "axis of evil." Further, he pointed out that China was supplying some of the nations in the "axis of evil" with arms.
The demonstration in front of the consulate ended after members from Students for a Free Tibet burned a large red paper Chinese flag.
Bay Area Tibetan and Tibet Support Groups that organized the march include:
Bay Area Friends of Tibet (BAFoT)
Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC)
Tibet Justice Center
Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC)
Students for a Free Tibet (SFT)
Committee of 100 for Tibet
In the evening we received coverage of the event on several of the TV stations, NBC, CBS, and ABC local affiliates. KPFA radio taped the entire day long event and presented segments of it on their evening program. I was interviewed by KQED NPR radio the evening prior, Tenzin Tethong , Chairman of Committee of 100 for Tibet and Dennis Cusack, Pres. of Tibet Justice Center were interviewed by KPFA radio shows earlier in the week. Additionally, Tethong la was interviewed by KMVR radio of Nevada City, NV last Monday. Other college campus newspaper reporters and other media were present and may later produce additional coverage.
Congratulations to all who participated in San Francisco's most impressive Tibet Uprising Day commerration.