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Woman Falls From SF Chinese Consulate
NBC[Thursday, August 07, 2008 07:31]
SAN FRANCISCO -- Another protest against the Beijing Summer Olympics attracted attention in San Francisco on Tuesday after a demonstrator fell two stories from the façade of the Chinese Consulate building in the city. She was taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

San Francisco police are investigating whether a woman, who was climbing the building to protest China's human rights record in Tibet, fell because her rope failed or because someone cut it.

The woman, Nyendak Wangden, was dangling near the roof when she fell to a patio. She is a member of the group "Students For A Free Tibet," the same group that hoisted a giant sign on the Golden Gate Bridge earlier this year.

The protest unfolded slowly, NBC Bay Area's Lisa Bernard reported. The woman swung over a wall from the roof while three women chained themselves to the ornamental lions at the entrance to the consulate, Bernard reported. There were about two dozen protesters on the scene in all.

A friend of the protester, Brianna Morgan, stood nearby to support her body, Bernard said.

There Wangden dangled for 20 minutes, holding a sign with a message for China. Police arrived as Chinese representatives looked anxious, Bernard said.

Two women dressed in black staged mock hangings from the roof of the building, holding banners that said, "Stop the Killing in Tibet" while other protesters from the group and the Tibetan Youth Congress waved signs.

Then came a scream and a thud as the woman dropped 20 feet, from the top floor to a balcony on the second floor, Bernard said. The experience was horrifying for friends who saw it, Bernard said.

NBC Bay Area also showed video taken by a tourist in a hotel room across the street.

The video showed Morgan being pushed moments before she dropped, Bernard said.

"We were here for a nonviolent protest," said Tenzin Khando, 22, of Salt Lake City, one of the protesters. "It is supposed to be nonviolent because the Chinese are using the Olympics as propaganda. This is what's happening in front of our eyes. Imagine what's happening behind closed doors."

She wiped away tears as she watched firefighters load Wangden into one of their trucks.

Fire crews used a ladder and a stretcher to bring the woman down from the second floor balcony.

The stretcher was a precaution in case the woman's spine or neck had been damaged, fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.

She underwent tests at SF General. Doctors said the woman was talking and conscious. They did not release information about the extent of her injuries.

"She didn't suffer any life-threatening injuries," Talmadge said. Police detained both women, and the three who had chained themselves to the front of the building.

Students for a Free Tibet spokeswoman Yangchen Lhamo said two or three consular officials were on the roof and had been arguing with the climbers just before the woman fell.

Chinese Consulate officials were not available for comment.

Activists Protest In South Bay, Around World Against China

Meanwhile, in San Jose, throngs of protestors held a rally outside the Santa Clara County administration building decrying alleged human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party.

Posters of battered Falun Gong members hung behind the podium as the protesters asked for help in changing the way the Chinese government treats its citizens.

The protest comes two days before the kickoff of the Olympic games but the event was also held in recognition of a resolution by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, who dubbed August "Human Rights for the People of China Month," according to organizers.

Tiananmen Square protester Feng Chongde, Supervisor Pete McHugh and other human rights activists spoke.

China's human rights record and its policies in Tibet have been a flash point for protests in China and around the world, as activists used the Olympic torch's passage after it left Greece on March 24 to highlight their causes.

Demonstrations and discussions about the issue are continuing in the days leading up the game's opening ceremony Aug. 8.

World leaders are weighing China's economic might against its human rights record as they decide whether to attend the celebration. Protesters remain intent on turning the event into a public relations disaster for the host country.

Also Wednesday, a half-dozen people chained themselves to the front gate of the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, Canada, to protest human rights abuses in Tibet.

And in the last week, 56 monks, nuns and other Tibetan exiles were detained by Indian police trying to cross into China to protest, and Italian government officials caused an uproar with their suggestion that athletes protest China's human rights policies with symbolic gestures.

In Germany, a water polo player donned orange robes characteristic of Tibetan monks, then posed with other German athletes for a photograph in which their faces were covered by those of pictures of jailed Chinese dissidents. China, once slow to address criticism, has been condemning the demonstrations as unfair attacks aimed at tarnishing the Olympic games.
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