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."

Skip Beijing Olympics, urges Tutu

April 11, 2008

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on world leaders to skip the Olympic
Games in Beijing as Tibet supporters vowed to send their message to

China, ahead of the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco.

Tutu was among the speakers at a candlelight vigil attended by nearly
2,000 people in downtown San Francisco to protest against human rights

abuses by China.

"To do anything less than take to the streets of San Francisco would be
very un-San Francisco," city board of supervisors member Chris Daly told

the vigil.

"The torch will be met with great alarm and significant protest."

In Beijing, International Olympic Committee members said they were
determined to go ahead with the protest-marred Olympic torch relay, as they

braced for demonstrations in San Francisco.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said protests that disrupted the relay in
London and Paris would not cause torch runs to be cancelled.

Tutu lauded the protesters for outpourings of support for human rights
and called on US President George W Bush and the leaders of other nations

not to go to Beijing for the Games.

"For God's sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of their
children, for the sake of the beautiful people of Tibet - don't go,"
Tutu said in his

message to heads of states.

"Tell your counterparts in Beijing you wanted to come but looked at your
schedule and realised you have something else to do."

The vigil culminated a day of peaceful, noisy demonstrations that
started with a rally at the city's United Nations Plaza and included
around 800

protesters marching to the Chinese consulate.

Protesters chanted "Shame on China" and "Free Tibet Now" as they
demonstrated outside the consulate buildings."

"This really is an epic moment," actor Richard Gere, chairman of the
board of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), told the crowd
during the


"The harmonious society (Chinese president) Hu Jintao talks about is a
fraud. There can be no harmony without freedom of religion and culture."

San Francisco organisers have already trimmed the route of the torch
relay to 9.6km, and the course is expected to be altered again at the last

minute to stymie protesters.

Pro-Tibet campaigners have shadowed the flame from the moment it was lit
in Greece on March 24, as demonstrators accuse China of violating

human rights and protest a crackdown in Tibet that they say has left 150
people dead. China says "rioters" killed 20 people.

International leaders are under pressure to boycott the opening ceremony
of the Olympics in Beijing on August 8.

Although Bush has consistently said he plans to attend, arguing that the
Olympics is about sport not politics, the White House has not ruled out the

possibility of Bush missing the event.

Australian Prime Minister, who is in Beijing on an overseas tour, has
delivered a blunt message to China, saying there are significant human

problems in Tibet.

"Australia, like most other countries, recognises China sovereignty over
Tibet but we also believe it is necessary to recognise there are

human rights problems in Tibet," Mr Rudd told students at Peking
University on the first day of his visit to China.

"The current situation in Tibet is of concern to Australians. We
recognise the need for all parties to avoid silence and find a solution

dialogue," he said in the speech, delivered in Mandarin.

The Chinese government is already upset with comments Mr Rudd made in
the US last week, in which he condemned human rights abuses in Tibet

and called on China to talk to exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai

Mr Rudd emphasised the need for Australia to speak frankly with China on
issues such as Tibet.

"As a longstanding friend of China I intend to have a straightforward
discussion with China's leaders on this," he told an audience of about 600


Mr Rudd repeated his position that there should be no boycott of the
Beijing Olympic Games.

"I believe the Olympics are important for China's continuing engagement
with the world," he said.

In San Francisco, meanwhile, rights campaigners called for calm, urging
protesters not to attempt to disrupt the relay and warning that a repeat of

the scenes in Paris could backfire.

"We are calling on all of our supporters to remain calm, not to disrupt
the torch relay as much as to come out in great numbers and show the

strength of the movement," ICT president John Ackerly said.

But some groups have hinted they may attempt to obstruct the torch route
in San Francisco. Nyunt Than, president of the Burmese American

Democratic Alliance, said his organisation was planning "direct action"
during the relay.

"That means civil disobedience. We might be sitting across the street
but that is not violent," he said.

Chinese officials have reacted strongly to the idea of stifling their
effort to stage the most ambitious Olympic torch relay ever - 19
countries plus

China over a 137,000km journey.

"The disruption and sabotage of the torch relay is a challenge to the
spirit of the Olympic charter, the world laws, and peace-loving people

the world," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

After San Francisco, the torch heads to Buenos Aires and 12 more
countries before arriving in China in early May.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank