Join our Mailing List

"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Newsom to voice concern about Tibet

April 5, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, April 04, 2008

San Francisco -- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said Thursday he will
raise concerns to International Olympic Committee members next week over
the possible resurgence of violence in Tibet in June when the Olympic
torch passes through that region of China.

Newsom met Thursday afternoon with representatives of five Tibetan
organizations who asked the mayor to talk with Olympic Committee members
about the likelihood of renewed violence in Tibet in June.

"That was the first time I've been asked that, and it's something I am
absolutely open to and committed to," Newsom said after the hourlong
meeting at City Hall.

Newsom said he has not met with any members of the International Olympic
Committee for months, but said he assumes representatives will be in San
Francisco on Wednesday for the torch festivities.

The mayor also said he will consider making a public statement about
China and Tibet during next week's ceremonies when the Olympic torch is
brought to the city.

"If I have to decide if I want to position myself to create an
international incident, that's something I'll have to consider, I
guess," Newsom said.

San Francisco is the only U.S. city to host the Beijing Olympic torch,
and Newsom has faced increasing pressure to take a bold, public stand
concerning China's human rights record. An uprising by Tibetan monks
last month sparked demonstrations and riots that resulted in a deadly
crackdown by Chinese authorities in several parts of that country.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution sharply
critical of China's human rights record and the recent crackdown in
Tibet. The resolution calls on the official who will represent San
Francisco in the torch ceremonies - likely to be Newsom - to accept the
flame with "alarm and protest."

Newsom, who plans to read the resolution today, said he appreciates the
spirit behind it, though he said he did not know if he would sign it.
The resolution doesn't require the mayor's signature.

He said it was not his practice to "sign resolutions that tell me what
to say and how to say it."

The mayor also pointed out that per Olympic protocol, he would never get
to physically hold or accept the torch anyway.

Still, he said he will think about raising some of the concerns that
protesters have expressed daily outside his City Hall office during next
week's ceremonies.

Representatives of the groups that met with Newsom - including the
Committee of 100 for Tibet, the Tibetan Association of Northern
California, Students for a Free Tibet, the Bay Area Friends for Tibet
and the San Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress - said they were
mostly satisfied after meeting with the mayor, something they said they
had requested for months.

But both Newsom and the representatives disagreed on whether the city
should have hosted the torch in the first place.

"He was quite concerned" with the situation in Tibet, said Ngodup
Tsering, president of the Tibetan Association of Northern California. "I
told him I'd like to see more action in terms of how he feels about
these things."

Also on Thursday, Newsom's office confirmed the spots where "First
Amendment locations" will be set up for protesters who want to assemble
in large groups without permits. Those areas will be inside the fence
line of parking lot A near McCovey Cove - near the start of the relay -
and a portion of Ferry Park near the end of the relay. Protesters
without permits will be allowed anywhere along the route - as long as
space is available, said Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard.

The city Recreation and Park Department said that three groups had
secured permits for five locations to hold large protests Wednesday. The
groups represent people with concerns about Tibet and China's policies
in Burma and the Darfur region of Sudan. According to the permit
applications, protest organizers expect 4,000 to 6,500 people at their
events.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank