Alpha Gardner, a retired nurse and quilt-maker of San Francisco, joined the protesters today."We're trying to raise awareness of what's happening in Tibet. I'd like to see peaceful dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese. The original meaning of the Olympics, after all, is to have peace. If war was going on in Greece, it was suspended while the games went on. That isn't happening now."
TheTibetan peace torch, introduced today at the rally, will cross Tibet's border the same day the games begin in Beijing.
Thupten Donyo, a monk exiled at a monastery in San Jose, said, "Many monks and nuns are starving in their own monasteries and dying. So we can't just be here silently.
"Politics and sports and not separate," he insisted, as he proudly displayed a large photo of the Dalai Lama. "If I were in Tibet and held this portrait of the Dalai Lama? I'd be in jail! I could never do this there, never! Never."
The director of the China Internet Project, Qiang Xiao, spoke to a group in Berkeley Monday night with the International Campaign for Tibet. He is also the founder and publisher of China Digital Times, a news portal independent of the government and a 2001 winner of a MacArthur Fellowship. To the many people who say "China must be free" he says, "China cannot be really free until Tibet is free."
As the city warily prepares for what it expects will be a turbulent relay tomorrow, the Tibetans lit candles against the dark night and gathered again in United Nations Plaza to hear Bishop Desmond Tutu, actor Richard Gere, and others speak.
The brightly colored flags and Tibetan fabrics of their clothes fluttered constantly in strong winds, all day, against grey cold skies, like prayer flags of hope.