Updated: Tutu, Gere Speak Out On Tibet, Nonviolence and George W. Bush

"We want to say to China, 'We thought that the Olympic Games would help you improve your human rights record," Tutu said. "We still hope... But what we are saying to the heads of state, to President George Bush, is, 'For goodness sake, don't go to the Beijing games... for the sake of our children, for the beautiful people of Tibet. Don't go!'"

link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg i?f=/c/a/2008/04/08/BAAS101V1O.DTL&t sp=1

Already in San Francisco to receive Outspoken Award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined actor and Tibet activist Richard Gere at a peaceful protest last night, held as part of the lead up to the Olympic torch relay today.

He spoke out in support of the ongoing protests during the Olympic torch relay:

Tutu praised protesters who have put themselves on the line in Paris, San Francisco and elsewhere to protest last month's crackdown in Tibet, which claimed as many as 140 lives.

In particular, he applauded three climbers who hung pro-Tibet banners Monday from the Golden Gate Bridge.

"I salute them," he said.

link: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition /california/la-me-tutu9apr09,1,256790.st ory

Archbishop Tutu also called for China to begin talks with the Dalai Lama, speaking out against the latest attempt by Chinese authorities to demonize His Holiness:

"I just hope China will realize that her best interests are in listening to the Dalai Lama," Tutu said. "Anyone who has met him, knows you have been in the presence of one of the most holy people. For someone who has been in exile now nearly 50 years, his joyousness is amazing. He bubbles. He has a sense of fun like a schoolboy, really. Sometimes I say to him, 'Shhh. The cameras are on us. Behave like a holy man.'"
Tutu chuckled and the audience laughed with him.

"But he's an amazing person," Tutu continued. "I'm very sad that he's being vilified in a way that anyone who knows him would say, 'Oh come off it, man.' The Dalai Lama has said clearly, let's negotiate. We don't want to separate from China. All we want is autonomy to preserve the very ancient Tibetan traditions and religion."

link: http://www.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyhe rald/localnews/ci_8861433

Richard Gere gave brief, moving remarks at the candlelight vigil: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGaMvF_i9 PQ

Labeling this a "decisive moment", Gere gently chastised "our beloved Tibetan brothers and sisters" for - just for a moment - allowing themselves to manifest anger and violence. He reminded the crowd assembled of the radical ideal of Tibetan autonomy: to create a brother-and-sisterhood based on fostering love and compassion through all of its institutions.

Calling Hu Jintao's concept of Olympic "harmony" a fraud, he asked protesters to do one simple thing: speak the truth.

Gere stated his dream was for Chinese authorities to wake up and ask themselves, "My God, what have we done? Let's go talk to the Dalai Lama."

Regardless of whether this is the outcome of this latest round of protests, it remains the goal of the protesters in San Francisco. And in spite of headlines bristling with the city "bracing" for protests, and intimations that this may be the last leg of the Olympic torch journey, the appeals from these two leaders last night were ones of nonviolence and peace when confronting the torch relay and everything that it has now come to symbolize.

Please keep all sides of this conflict in your thoughts, prayers and meditations as protesters line the streets of San Francisco later today to voice their support of human rights.

Update [2008-4-9 11:14:33 by grannyhelen]: Media reports are buzzing about another impromptu protest by Tibetan monks today at the Labrang monastery:
The outburst on Wednesday came as authorities guided reporters through the Labrang Monastery. The tour marked the first officially approved visit to Xiahe by foreign reporters since monks and other Tibetans in the city clashed with police last month. During the tour, about 15 monks rushed out, waving a Tibetan flag, and approached a group of about 20 Chinese and foreign reporters. “The Dalai Lama has to come back to Tibet,” one monk said, according to Reuters, which was invited on the tour. “We are not asking for Tibetan independence, we are just asking for human rights. We have no human rights now.” Several monks draped their heads in robes, Reuters reported, possibly as an attempt to conceal their identities and avoid later punishment. They also said that local authorities were holding other monks and that armed, plainclothes security officers were posted around the city.
link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/10/world/asia/10tibet.html?hp

ABC News has first-hand impressions of the protest by their reporter at the monastery:

There in the courtyard were 15 young monks marching. Some were chanting loudly, most had grim expressions on their faces. Two monks at the head of the column were holding a Tibetan banner, identified as a sign of support of the exiled Dalai Lama and considered "reactionary" by China's regime. One monk in the group covered his head with part of his saffron robe. I approached one of them and asked in Chinese what the others were shouting. He translated from the Tibetan, "We want human rights! We want freedom!" The young monk went on, "We want the Dalai Lama to return! We want to preserve our religion!" snip The demonstration petered out as more older monks showed up and persuaded the younger monks to leave. He said these protesting monks did not represent the majority of monks. He added that these young monks did not understand the history of China and Tibet and were misled by "separatists."
link: http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/Story?id=4616992&page=2

Tags: china, Dalai Lama, Darfur, Desmond Tutu, George Bush, Hu Jintao, human rights, International Issues, nonviolence, Olympics, Richard Gere, Tibet, Violence (all tags)



the violent protests are

counter productive as usual. They will only make people sympathetic to the poor people carrying the torch.  The Olympics are supposed to be politics free.  That's the whole purpose of the games in the first place.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2008-04-09 05:57AM | 0 recs
It is the Chinese govt that started using

the games for political purposes - the torch relay is really optional and doesn't have the best history (originally used by Hilter for propaganda purposes, and not always a part of the games).

For that reason, I don't think the protests have been counter-productive. And the ones in San Fran today will also not be counter-productive, as long as they focus on the issue at hand and use nonviolence.

You may be interested in this report - the blue jogging suit clad "minders" of the Olympic flame are members of China's paramilitary, and their tactics may have escalated the violence in London and Paris: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jHpaf lNEZpBBT4fArcZK_OGCxV8QD8VTSG9O0

by grannyhelen 2008-04-09 06:08AM | 0 recs
Good article - Olympic officials call them 'thugs'

BEIJING (AP) -- They wear bright blue tracksuits and Beijing Olympic organizers call them "flame attendants." But a military bearing hints at their true pedigree: paramilitary police sent by Beijing to guard the Olympic flame during its journey around the world.

Torchbearers have criticized the security detail for aggressive behavior, and a top London Olympics official simply called them "thugs."

"They were barking orders at me, like 'Run! Stop! This! That!' and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, who are these people?'" former television host Konnie Huq told British Broadcasting Corp. radio about her encounter with the men in blue during London's leg of the relay Sunday.

by catfish1 2008-04-09 07:37AM | 0 recs
BishopTutu had it right all along.

back in 2004, he declared the war immoral, and called upon bush and blair to apologize.

He said belligerent and militarist policies had produced a novel and dangerous principle - that of pre-emptive attack on the basis of intelligence reports.

In the case of Iraq, Archbishop Tutu said, the intelligence had been flawed - yet it was the basis for the United States going to war dragging Britain behind it.

He also criticised the alternative justification of ousting a tyrannical regime...

...Archbishop Tutu referred to the idea that harsh prison sentences made people safer.

In the invasion of Iraq, he said, they could see the same illusion on a global scale - that force and brutality could produce security.

i had dinner with the bishop a few years ago (he and his wife befreinded my parents when he was a guest faculty member at the university of north florida), and i humbly submit that his track record on successful resolution of social injustices in a bit better than bush's, despite having a lot fewer resources. he's also a lot more courageous than our president.

by campskunk 2008-04-09 06:19AM | 0 recs
He is so charismatic

I can't believe he was here last night.

Wow what was it like meeting him? He was great on John Stewart a few years ago.

by catfish1 2008-04-09 06:36AM | 0 recs
True on both counts...

...and it must have been an honor to meet him. I'm glad you had that opportunity :-)

by grannyhelen 2008-04-09 07:17AM | 0 recs


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