BY DAVID JACOBS • firstname.lastname@example.org
Reno community activists had hoped to be in San Francisco today protesting China's human rights record as the Olympic torch makes its way to the summer games in Beijing.
But with rising fuel costs and work and job commitments, they opted for a peace vigil Tuesday evening in the labyrinth garden at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park.
About 10 walked in support of Tibet, where Chinese authorities have been cracking down on dissenters.
The Reno event was scheduled to coincide with similar vigils across the United States.
"It's important for local communities to have a voice," said Reno resident Lisa Stiller, who helped organize the event in the garden dedicated to victims of violence and their families.
As the torch relay passes through San Francisco today, Reno-area activists are reflecting on the fallout from violent protests that accompanied its visits to places such as Paris and London.
"I think it's time for the United States and other world powers to acknowledge, not turn our back, on the difficulties the Tibetans are facing by the Chinese government," said Lee Dazey, 52, of Reno. "The question I would raise is, 'Is our debt to China interfering with our ability to hold them up to human rights standards?'"
As Dazey and others walked, Stiller circulated a petition for International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge. The petition asks the committee to help improve human rights in Tibet.
"The IOC should not let the Olympics be used by China to blatantly or insidiously try to legitimize their rule in Tibet or to promote a distorted view of the conditions there," the petition said.
Stiller hopes to gather at least 100 local signatures.
"I think what China is doing is absolutely unacceptable," she said. "The Olympics are about peace and cooperation."