Olympics begin with protests in San Francisco

August 8, 2008 6:29:07 PM PDT
With the start of the Olympics, demonstrations against China's human rights record kicked into high gear, around the world and the Bay Area.

There were a number of demonstrations in San Francisco.

A group of Burmese nationalists and their supporters rallied in Union Square, but the biggest and most impressive demonstration occurred on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The march started with a rally shortly after noon on the south end of the bridge. About 300 pro-Tibet activists gathered to voice their anger over what they call "Chinese government repression," which they said has gotten worse in recent months.

"What the Chinese governement has used in the name of security for the Olympic games, so they're really using the Olympic games to silence the Tibetans inside Tibet," activist Tenzin Dasang said.

The demonstrators, escorted by the California Highway Patrol, marched slowly across the Golden Gate Bridge. The march was organized by San Francisco Team Tibet, a coalition of pro-Tibetan human rights groups.

"We're here to voice our solidarity with the people inside Tibet who can't voice themselves freely," activist Giovanni Vassalo said.

The march was peaceful with no surprises, unlike in April, when protesters climbed up bridge cables and unfurled a large banner.

Also on Friday, a smaller group of pro-Tibet activists demonstrated outside the Chinese consulate. There were no incidents there either, unlike Wednesday when a protester who had climbed onto the consulate roof fell when her climbing ropes malfunctioned.

In the East Bay, Burmese nationalists and their supporters raised the Burmese flag at Berkeley City Hall. The city council declared Friday Burma Day. Friday was the 20th anniversary of a popular uprising against the country's Chinese-backed military government, where more than 800 people were killed in the streets on Rangoon.


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