Bay Area Friends of Tibet



January 28, 2004

Media Contacts: Giovanni Vassallo 415-656-4373
Minnie Cancellero 510-486-0588
Topden Tsering 510-548-1095

March 10, 2004
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

San Francisco, CA - Hundreds of Tibetans and their supporters will march and demonstrate in Berkeley and San Francisco to save the life of political prisoner, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day on Wednesday, March 10, 2004. An estimated 80,000 Tibetans were killed by the armies of the People's Republic of China in 1959 following the March 10th Tibetan National Uprising. Tibet continues to be under the oftentimes-brutal rule of Chinese armed forces.

"The Tibetan people all over the world remember this day as blackest chapter in our history," explained Topden Tsering, President of the San Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress. He also said that never did so many Tibetans die in such a short time in the history of their country.

The events will begin with a Tibetan flag raising ceremony at Berkeley's City Hall, attended by the Mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates. Later, demonstrators, including Congressional Representatives, and human rights activists will gather for a noon protest at San Francisco's City Hall, followed by a march to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco at Geary and Laguna streets. In a new approach, the groups will gather again at 5 pm at Union Square that evening to hold a candlelight vigil through the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown, ending at Portsmouth Square.

Expected speakers will include Xiao Qiang, former director of Human Rights China, and Pema Chhinjor, the former Security Minister of the Dalai Lama's Tibetan Government-in-Exile, as well as others.

"If China truly wants to help resolve the Tibetan issue, it is imperative that they free Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and commute his death sentence," remarked Minnie Cancellero of the Tibet Justice Center. "He is a Buddhist monk charged with a crime he did not commit. He is an innocent man convicted in a sham trial, in order to intimidate all Tibetans," she added. "His political imprisonment highlights how crucial it is for China to negotiate with the Tibetan people. Tibetans in Tibet are not free," she said.

"To know each other, we must understand each other," said Giovanni Vassallo, President of the Bay Area Friends of Tibet, referring to the Tibetan and Chinese communities. "By approaching folks on the street during our candlelight vigil through Chinatown, we hope to inform the Chinese public about facts of the Tibetan situation. For instance, the Dalai Lama is not seeking separation from China. We call upon the Bay Area Chinese community not to ignore the Tibet-China conflict."

China invaded Tibet in 1949 and occupied the country in 1959, forcing the Dalai Lama and 130,000 of his followers into exile in India. By the end of Cultural Revolution in 1977, around 1.2 million Tibetans had died as a direct or indirect result of Chinese government's occupation of Tibet.

China has rejected negotiations with the Dalai Lama until he acknowledges that the region is a part of China and that Taiwan is a Chinese province. The Dalai Lama already formalized his renouncement of independence for Tibet in a speech to the European Parliament in 1988 and recently stated that it was up to the people of Taiwan to determine their own future.

"We have unflinching faith in our leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama," said Chimmy Gonpo, President of the Tibetan Association of Northern California. "We know that if the Chinese government would sit down to sincerely negotiate a satisfactory solution with His Holiness or His representatives today, there would be millions of happier Tibetans tomorrow."

Schedule of March 10th Tibetan National Uprising Day commemoration:
09:00AMBerkeley Tibetan flag-raising at City Hall
11:30AMGathering at San Francisco City Hall for noon rally
01:00PMMarch from San Francisco City Hall to Chinese Consulate on Laguna & Geary Blvd.
01:00-03:00PMProtest in front of Chinese Consulate
04:30PMMeet at Union Square, San Francisco
05:00-06:00PMDemonstration at Union Square
06:00-07:00PMCandlelight Vigil and march from Union Square to and through Chinatown and end at Portsmouth Square at Kearny and Clay St.

Bay Area Friends of Tibet * Tibet Justice Center * Tibetan Association of Northern California * Tibetan Youth Congress * Committee of 100 for Tibet * Students for a Free Tibet * Tibetan Nuns Project

Founded in 1983, BAFoT is a non-sectarian, non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and is the US West Coast's original Tibet support group. BAFoT educates the public about Tibet and the Tibetan people; organizes grassroots projects and events to benefit Tibetans locally and internationally. BAFoT organizes events in cooperation with local Tibetan groups including the Tibetan Association of Northern California, San Francisco Tibetan Youth Congress, Dalai Lama Foundation, Tibet Justice Center, Tibetan Nuns Project, Committee of 100 for Tibet, and Students for a Free Tibet.

For more information please contact: Giovanni Vassallo 415-656-4373 Giovanni Vassallo

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