Pro-Tibet demonstration in Chicago

August 8, 2008 3:01:50 PM PDT
Hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Chicago Friday, calling attention to China's record on human rights. The demonstration came on the same day as the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Protests similar to the one in Chicago took place in cities around the world Friday.

The controversy behind the protests centers on nearly 50 years of Chinese rule in Tibet. The message of the demonstration was the same as in past times, but the timing was unique because of the opening ceremonies.

In Chicago, Tibetans and Tibetan supporters protested in Water Tower Park, then outside of the Chinese Consulate.

"The main purpose is to raise awareness of the Chinese use of the Beijing Olympics to legitimize their brutal occupation of Tibet and as a way of covering up their human rights record," said Dorjee Norbu.

Most of the demonstrators in Chicago Friday were from out of town. The majority of them came from Minneapolis, home to one of the largest populations of Tibetans in the United States.

"There are a lot of people from all over. I've asked people who've said, 'Oh I'm from New York or I'm from San Francisco.' So, it's nice that people came from all over the country to come here and join us in solidarity with the Tibetan people in Chicago," said Pema Chinyam.

"The reason we are here is that we want to show the Chinese Consulate that we Tibetans are seeking our independence," said Karma Dhargyal, a man who fled Tibet in 2000 and now lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter.

Chicago police kept demonstrators about half-way down the block from the Chinese Consulate Friday. For the most part, the day was peaceful, but at one point, a young man waving a Chinese flag got into a heated scuffle, and he was quickly removed by officers.

"This whole movement has been peaceful, and it's good we keep it that way. We don't want things to get out of control and stuff," protestor Tenzin Dechen said.

"I like the turnout today, but I would like it to be even more, especially [with] this being the opening ceremonies of Beijing Olympics. I think we still need to raise more awareness," said Tendor Norbu.

Most protestors in Chicago had already left the city Friday evening, headed back to their out-of-state homes. Organizers had hoped to draw about 1,000 protestors. However, the actual number was closer to an estimated 300 or 400.

ABC7 Chicago reached out to the Chinese Consulate for comment, but phone calls were not returned.


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