Fiery attack at SF Chinese Consulate

March 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Pressure is building for San Francisco to use the exposure of the Olympic torch visit next month-- to make a political point.

Demonstrators gathered at City Hall this evening, trying to force the city to take a stand against China's crackdown in Tibet.

The torch relay is scheduled to take place in San Francisco in three weeks, and Bay Area Tibetans are doing everything they can to make sure their voices are heard when the torch makes its way through the city.

Despite the chill, dozens of Tibetan Americans gathered in front of San Francisco City Hall on Thursday.

For them, a protest is the best way to deal with all of the uncertainty going on in their homeland.

"Blood is coming like everywhere in Tibet," said Tibetan protestor Tsering Danaktsang.

Tsering Danaktsang hasn't been able to talk to his friends and family in Tibet ever since China began its crackdown on anti-government protestors last week.

By all accounts, the situation is getting worse. Today, Chinese tanks confronted rioters in the streets, and armed troops went door to door, arresting Tibetans at random.

"I feel half like half of my body is kind of dead here. I just hoping someday Tibetans get a little bit of independence. That's where I lived, my home in the 1980s," said Danaktsang.

These Bay Area Tibetans say what is adding insult to injury, is the fact that the Olympic torch is making its way to San Francisco next month, the only North American city hosting the torch relay prior to the games in Beijing.

"The Beijing Olympic torch as we Tibetans say is tainted with Tibetan blood, you know?" said Tsering Gyurmey.

It's a sentiment shared by supervisor Chris dally. In fact, at a City Hall hearing today, Daly pushed for a resolution, "to make it publicly known that the torch is received with alarm and protest."

But supervisor Carmen Chu's version ended up passing out of committee -- which says the city welcomes the torch relay.

"I think it captures the spirit of San Franciscans which is going to be tolerant of all the different points of views that are being expressed currently," said San Francisco Supervisor Carmen Chu.

It's a situation that will likely heat up in the weeks ahead. The Chinese consulate has already been the target of vandalism.

On Thursday morning,-- at least two people splashed a flammable liquid on the consulate's metal security gate, setting it on fire.

"We strongly condemn that. It could not happen here," said Chinese Consul General Gao Zhansheng.

ABC7's Lilian Kim: "Do you think it's a terrorist act?

"Of course," said Zhansheng.

The mayor's office is keeping details of the torch relay close to the vest. They are concerned that revealing too much information beforehand will only help people who want to disrupt it.

The only details we know of so far, is that the relay will likely start on the waterfront and not pass through Chinatown.


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