Tuesday April 8, 6:00 to 8:00 pm (Pacific), United Nations Plaza, San Francisco
Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and actor and activist Richard Gere will join thousands of Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters for a peace rally and candle-lit vigil for Tibet in United Nations Plaza in San Francisco on April 8, 2008 from 6pm to 8pm. The event takes place a day before the Olympic Torch Relay passes through San Francisco on April 9, 2008, the Torch’s only stop on American soil.
ICT’s candle-lit vigil is taking place as reports continue to emerge from Tibet of mass arrests and brutal tactics to suppress Tibetan demonstrators demanding basic human rights and freedoms.
Aware the Olympics is a unique opportunity for governments to press for positive change in China and Tibet, participants in the vigil will call on US President George W. Bush not to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The presence of government leaders from around the world at the opening ceremony will be used by the Chinese Communist Party as evidence of its legitimacy on the world stage and that the world is turning a blind eye to systematic human rights abuses throughout all of China. President Bush, who considers himself to be “the human rights President” should not associate himself with a political regime that systematically abuses the rights of its citizens.
Speakers at the vigil will also call on the International Olympic Committee and the Chinese government to cancel plans to take the Olympic Torch through Tibet. The torch relay through Tibet, starting from the summit of Mount Chomolongma (Mount Everest) is a symbolic gesture of China’s ‘ownership’ of Tibet and, at a time of brutal crackdown in Tibet, risks being a flashpoint for further protests and possible loss of life.
“As the same torch that might go through Tibet comes to San Francisco, we are reclaiming for the Tibetan people the spirit of human dignity that the torch should represent and calling on the International Olympic Committee to act responsibly by withdrawing its authorization to run the torch through Tibet,” said John Ackerly, ICT President. “The IOC claim that sport and politics do not mix was long ago hijacked by the Chinese government, which is fully responsible for both the crisis in Tibet and the unwelcome attention that the Olympic torch is receiving around the world.”
The peace rally and vigil for Tibet is sponsored by the following organizations: The International Campaign for Tibet, Amnesty International, Bay Area Friends of Tibet, Committee of 100 for Tibet, International Tibet Independence Movement, International Tibet Support Network, Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet, the Tibetan Association of Northern California, and the Tibetan Youth Congress (San Francisco region).