Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Torch Season in San Fran

The Olympic Torch is not the only Torch to visit San Fran.

Two other Torches are calling here with rallies, a 6k run, concert and candlelight vigil marking their visits.

At the candlelight vigil, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Richard Gere and Tibetan leaders are guest speakers.

The Global Human Rights Torch Relay is here on Saturday, April 5, and the Tibetan Freedom Torch reaches us on Tuesday, April 8.

The GHRTR began in Athens last year on August 9 and is visiting 6 continents, 37 countries and 150 cities. It is in North America during April and May.

Their events include a 6k run/walk, a concert and a rally starting in Union Square in the morning.

Torch supporters are around the streets of San Fran handing out a free newspaper providing information on the Torch and abuses of China. They urge people to write to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge to demand of China that they improve their human rights record.

Film director Steven Spielberg and actress Uma Thurman are featured for their opposition to China. Spielberg withdrew as artistic advisor to the Olympics over China's involvement in Darfur.

The Torch was started by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, where organ harvesting is big business.

But it also symbolises a fight against suppression of Christians, Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists, rights advocates, journalists and defence lawyers and Chinese action in Sudan, Burma, Zimbabwe and North Korea.

The Tibetan Freedom Torch Relay arrives in the United Nations Plaza at the Civic Center on Tuesday. SF Team Tibet are gathering in the morning. In the early evening there is a rally and speeches, music and finally the candlelight vigil.

Over 2,000 Tibetans a year, including many children, flee the country to find refuge in Nepal and India, say their literature.

'The Chinese government is using the Olympic torch relay as part of a massive propaganda effort to clean up its public image and cover up its brutal occupation of Tibet and atrocious human rights record. China is carrying the torch to the top of Mt. Everest in a purely political move, designed to legitimise its claims to Tibet.'

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