Thoughts on San Francisco

Back in Toronto now after what was a 24 hours a day week in San Francisco. Looking back at the day of the disastrous Torch run, I have come to the conclusion that protests against the Chinese government’s actions in Tibet, Burma, Sudan, East Turkestan, Taiwan, and China itself has now truly become a popular, global movement of the people. Standing on Embarcadero street, listening to speeches at Ferry Park, doing interviews beside the tacky and overzealous Chinese propaganda show (with Chinese impersonating Tibetans)…I not only saw thousands of my fellow countrymen and women, but thousands and thousands of ordinary citizens who had come with home-made signs and props supporting our cause.

Credo – a telephone company – had produced hundreds of placards that read “Another________ who supports a free Tibet,” Taiwanese Americans had a banner that read “Taiwanese-Americans support a free Tibet,” business men in their crisp suits walked around with their own placards and Tibetan flags, hundreds of families had showed up and were wearing Tibetan stickers on their clothes, I even saw a man with a fake fire extinguisher that said “monk dust.” It was overwhelming; it was more support than I ever dreamed we would get in San Francisco.

There were some tense moments, some shouting matches, but all in all, the Tibetan people showed incredible dignity and restraint. Many of us in fact saw Chinese people verbally attacking ‘injis’ or non-Tibetans who were supporting Tibet. One particular argument I remember involved a black man and a group of Chinese people. He was holding a Free Tibet placard and just walking around. A Chinese girl engaged him and started yelling at him. “Why are you here? Go home. Go back to work. Everything they say is lies. Lies lies lies.” He was adamant that it was his right to stand on the street and express his views just as it was hers. But the girl and her group weren’t ready to learn about democracy even though they were enjoying all of its benefits while living in the US. Unfortunate. And telling.

In the end the Torch route was rerouted so far off track that they had to cancel the closing ceremonies. They attempted to do one at the Golden Gate bridge but seeing that protesters weren’t too far away, they jetted to the airport for a make-shift ceremony with just the runners and the officials. It was a far cry from the party the Chinese government hoped to see. I am so proud of the message we sent from San Francisco, and North America as a whole. This is how the world should’ve treated Hitler’s Torch relay. I’m glad we were ready this time.

Oh and Ali and the rest of the Golden Gate activists were released the night before. They were such troopers. They did media all morning and all day at the protests. With people like them, and countless others who worked quietly and behind the scenes for days and days AND are ready to do so much more, the Chinese government is sweating through their bedsheets. Rightfully so.


6 responses to “Thoughts on San Francisco

  1. “The Chinese media spin the story as anti-Chinese riots instead of anti-government riots. They try to make it something against the Chinese people. It is not against the Chinese people.” —Tsering Wangdu Shakya, Chair in Modern Tibetan Studies, University of British Columbia

  2. This sounds like San Francisco — we love a good protest, whatever the cause!


  3. I think you guys at SFT should promote a boycott of XINHUA and CCTV related information targeted specially at media and press agencies, at least untill free access to Tibet is allowed to western journalists….

    my 2 cents

  4. lol nice work adding politics into the olmypics. I mean that was the whole idea of the olympics…
    lets hope china screws up cos seeing a emerging power screw up is good fun
    I love it when you say the torch is china’s propaganda.. so fitting and so sexy. you can write a thesis with this topic.
    attacking the torch bearers is a must, because we all know these torch bearers have committed crimes in tibet…
    all these genocide charges made the tibetan population increase to 6million.

  5. Again, another self-righteous article written from the western perspective on moral high ground. Firing away with rhetoric fit to be from the virgin mary herself.

    I salute you for sitting on land stolen from massacred Indians. In fact, I myself am living on it. However, I don’t exactly cry about it.

    If the Dalai Lama holds so much power, how is it that a polarizing figure is given such ‘democratic’ power to hold sway over the mast majority for Tibetans. I’m sure an affront to the Dalai Lama is as peronal as we think this these protests are an affront to the Chinese people in general.

    Don’t blame the government for spinning this to be about the Chinese government, not the Chinese people.

    Don’t you get it? Have you EVER learned about intercultural communications? If you go to Asian countries, lets say Thailand. If you say you don’t like their food, they will TAKE IT AS MEANING you DON”T like Thailand, the entire country, and be very emabrassed or offended. It is a serious affront. Same damn thing in most of China, Japan, you name it. Probably same in Tibet as well.

    If you want to champion your cause. Don’t apply your rule of individualism to collectivist cultures. It backfires.

    Making China change does not start with an ultimatum. You are only doing this to make yourself feel good, which is the MOST despecable at all. Asian countries have a long history of hating each other.

    China is hated by every neighbour deep down. Japan is as well. Between smaller countries ethnic tensions run deep and mutual animosity is high. Ex. Ethnic Chinese are called the Jews of South East Asia because they own 60% of the economies of Philipines, Indonesia, Malaysia while being <10% of the population. IN history they are persecuted and killed. In the last 20 years there has been things akin to the inquisition.
    The Asian mentality is far more politically complex than you can possibly imagine with your head in a box. And vice versa, many Asians will have a very hard time thinking about things your way! I can attest to this. I moved when I was a young kid, there was a lot of adjusting to be done.

    Anyways, my point is. Antagonizing China, even the government, is antagonizing the Chinese people. The media in China needs to do very little. For friggin sakes, the abundance of patriotism among those of us born/raise overseas should be enough to point out the fallacy of your argument. Why is that so? Well, since the government is far more popular among the urban middle class than it was 20 years ago, why would people not be offended. You think many Americans weren’t pissed off at France back in 03? Freedom fries anyone?

    As minorities in north america. We also feel as underdogs. We also feel, and rightly so, that no matter what the rhetoric, our pride and security are at stake from such riots and protests. We feel threatened, because such protests could easily imply racial stereotypes and profiling.

    And that is why, while the Tibetans can muster popular and half-assed support from a vocal minority of Westerners, it will never succeed in getting what it wants from what it is doing. I’m sorry, but you are sabotaging your own efforts.

    As Isaac Assimov once told us, when all things are equal, you cling to your heritage and any threat that assails that is one that is perceived to be a threat to our very own identity and existence.

  6. James man,
    your blogging format is awesome,but unfortunately all the informations aren’t true at all…you can’t call Tibet Yours, when it belongs to the Tibetans…b4 any nationalism we are all human beings first…how can we ignore whats going in Tibet…people are being imprisoned,tortured,executed just for expressing their feelings….its been more than half a century since Chinese Communist Regime invaded Tibet yet after all these years Tibetans in Tibet haven’t given their hopes up…Chinese Communist Politicians are saying Tibet is stable, and that Tibetans are happy under Chinese rule….if thats the case then why are their not just couple infact thousands of Tibetans protesting for the same things…
    First – Tibet belongs to Tibetans, Free Tibet
    Second – Tibetans want Human rights,rights which all
    human beings should have…
    Right to express them selves…
    Right to protest peacefully….
    Third – Religious Freedom
    – Hundreds of Monasteries have been
    destroyed..Prayer books have been burned by
    the Communist Chinese Party..
    there are only couple of monasteries left and
    numbers of monks in each monastery’s are
    Most importantly the Tibetans in Tibet are waiting for the return of His Holiness The 14 th Dalai Lama…

    Nelson Mandela’s quote– ” A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”


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