May 1 - Around 50 Tibetans and supporters sat on a solidarity hunger strike for the third consecutive Saturday, as concerns over the health of three hunger strikers heightened with the hospitalization of Dolma Choephel. The hunger strike concluded with a rally, participated by over a hundred Tibetans and supporters, which rumbled through the Downtown streets of Berkeley.
"Release the Panchen Lama Now", shouted into the microphone an eight-year old boy, eliciting from the crowd of protestors a thundering echo of similar slogan: "Release the Panchen Lama Now!" "Release Tenzin Delek Now!", the boy worked up the crowd more. And the crowd responded: "Release Tenzin Delek Now!"
Michael, a teacher at Berkeley Adult School, opined to a Tibetan friend, lamenting the silence of the UN and the larger international community: "Time is running out for Tibet. And this is not the time to be quiet."
Kriss Worthington, Berkeley City Council Member, who led the rally, later said: "I can not begin to imagine the sheer determination and resolve of these three young hunger strikers in New York. Their sacrifices stand before us today like an open wound, troubling our conscience, pointing to the hypicrisy of our time, when violence and bloodshed attract all the attention and peace and non-violence do not."
Pema Chinjor La, former cabinet minister of the exile Tibetan government, said: "The courage of these three hunger strikers continue to inspire Tibetans and supporters across the world to take steps to further the Tibetan movement for freedom. China is still a brutal regime which continues to hold in place in Tibet the most draconian policies, and it is morally incumbent on all to bring this to the light of day."
Chimme la, President of Tibetan Youth Congress, and Giovanni Vassallo, President of Bay Area Friends of Tibet, respectively expressed their admiration of the three hunger strikers and re-affirmed their commitment, on behalf of their organizations, to do all they can to further the activism for a free Tibet in the Bay area.
Topden Tsering, President of the san Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, said: "When we first started to plan for this rally, besides the three hunger strikes so far, we envisioned the participation of thousands of Tibetans and supporters. We imagined Berkeley shaking up in the rumbles of our slogan for a Free Tibet. Well, this has not happened just yet. Not today. As you can see, we are not even a hundred people here."
"But then, this is just the beginning. And we are not going anywhere," he said: "The day when we have thousands of Tibetans and supporters in all the cities, rallying for a Free Tibet, at very regular intervals, shaking the people, shaking the governments, shaking the world, then and only then, we'd have lived up to the expectations of the three hunger strikers in New York. Then and only then, we'd have earned the right to call ourselves their brothers and sisters. Only then."
The hunger strikes and rallies were organized by San Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, with the support of Tibetan Association of Northern California, Tibet Justice Center and Bay Area Friends of Tibet.