DHARAMSALA, September 17 - Tibetans and supporters in San Francisco on Monday protested outside the City Hall of San Leandro where a voting was taking place on a proposal by City Council member Benny Lee to raise the flag of the People’s Republic of China in the city hall.
Tibetans and their supporters carried out a series of direct protests across the Bay Area followed by intense lobbying of local politicians to defeat the resolution. Around 30 Tibetans were present in the hall during the proceedings which saw 5 Tibetans speak before the council consisting of seven members.
The resolution was supported by the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco. Similar resolutions are reportedly being introduced in San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda.
Petitions were sent to call on Mayor Stephen H. Cassidy to defeat the resolution. Cassidy himself voted against the resolution but it was not enough.
Kunjo Tashi, the president of the Tibetan Association of Northern California said such meddling by China into local government affairs in America should not be tolerated. "We call on the San Leandro City Council and the people of San Leandro, to say No to Beijing’s blood flag of occupation in San Leandro, so long as the Chinese government continues its brutal reign in Tibet."
The newly formed Tibetan National Congress, - a group comprising of Tibetan and foreign supporters of independence for Tibet as opposed to the exile Tibetan government's middle way approach of seeking autonomy from China - has faxed a letter to the city council members. "In effect, this will mean the City of San Leandro will be celebrating the 64th anniversary of Mao’s victory and the establishment of communism in China," the letter signed by its acting president Jigme Ugyen read.
Reports just came in that the voting went in favor of Lee's proposal by 4-3. The SF Team Tibet will, however, continue its direct action protests throughout October 1, the day chosen for the hoisting of the Chinese flag.
SF Team Tibet is a coalition of four groups, Tibetan Association of Northern California, Students for a Free Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet, San Francisco Tibetan Youth Congress and Bay Area Friends of Tibet.