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Tibetan Rights Group Claims Victory, National Day Ceremony Canceled

There are indications that the hacker collective Anonymous targeted a City of Alameda website in support of the protesters.

There are indications that the hacker collective Anonymous targeted a City of Alameda website in support of the protesters.

Tibetan rights activists are claiming victory today after a planned ceremony and flag-raising recognizing China’s National Day at Alameda City Hall was cancelled by organizers.

In recent weeks, activists had started a social media and e-mail campaign targeting the City of Alameda, and asking supporters to e-mail Mayor Marie Gilmore to demand she put a stop to the ceremony, and the raising of the Chinese flag in recognition of National Day.

City of Alameda officials pointed out that the flag would be raised on portable flag poles – not the City of Alameda flagstaff – brought by arms-length event organizers, Alameda Sister City Association and Alameda-Jiangyin Wuxi Sister City Committee.

Activists countered that the event was hardly arms-length, in part due to the appointment last week of City of Alameda Social Services Human Relations Board member Michael Robles-Wong as the board’s representative to the Sister City Association.

Protesters assembled at Alameda City Hall to voice their objections.

Late today, Alameda Councilmember Stewart Chen and Deputy City Manager Alex Nguyen both confirmed that the two sister city groups canceled the event.

Alameda Councilmember Stewart Chen

Councilmember Stewart Chen initially deflected questions on the activists complaints, but then followed-up yesterday with a statement (reproduced in full below) saying in part, “I believe that the Sister-City program is a great way for our citizens to gain first-hand knowledge and experience of other cultures. A few months ago, a group of middle-school students from Wuxi visited Alameda through our Sister City program. It’s about getting to know people from different countries at a personal level, without politics. It’s about recognizing and celebrating diversity that would, hopefully, pave the way towards greater understanding and cooperation.”

Chen initiated the sister city relationships when he himself was on the Social Services Human Relations Board back in 2005.

The activists were non-plussed, with TibetTruth telling Action Alameda News, via Twitter, “Today’s rally was a reminder to Alameda’s authorities that people oppose honoring regimes that inflict oppression& violence. If it’s about ‘people’ then perhaps Mr. Chen would care to explain how precisely honoring the founding of communist China & raising its flag genuinely respects or serves people in China who are so brutally denied the very freedoms enjoyed by folks in Alameda?”

Friends of Tibet

Giovanni Vassallo of Friends of Tibet told Action Alameda News by e-mail, “Whenever they choose China’s National Day that is political. Fortunately in Alameda the Tibetans did not get tortured, arrested, beaten, or even be killed for raising the National Flag of Tibet like what happens regularly in occupied-Tibet by Chinese government authorities. To be a true sister is to pay attention to your sister. We hope that Jiangyin and Wuxi sister cities of Alameda hear the cries of their Tibetan brothers and sisters and stop the Tibetan national nightmare. To truly understand one must listen and stop the suffering. The flag of PRC is symbol of tyranny for millions of Uighers, Chinese, and Tibetans. We believe in nonviolent free expression and if you kill a Tibetan for raising their flag then raise your own you can only expect protest. 122 Tibetans self-immolated resisting the Chinese government oppression in Tibet so the public could hear they need help in Tibet. We pray for more Chinese to truly understand the tragedy of Tibet and be motivated by compassion to something concrete to make that happen. The PRC flag did not fly at Alameda today because the Chinese Consul General Yuan decided to cancel his remarks. Perhaps, he did not want to be confronted with the truth of Tibet nor did Alameda’s Mayor show up despite being on the flag raising program. Those in sister city relations should be more courageous to dialogue in true friendly spirit and understand each other’s hurts and make a better future.”

Several of the photos accompanying this article were provided by Friends of Tibet. Two were captured from TibetTruth’s Twitter feed.

Anonymous Targets City Website

There are indications too that the hacker collective Anonymous entered the fray on the side of the Tibetan activists, as evidenced by claims on Twitter that the group took down the City of Alameda website. However, they appeared to have targeted the old .ORG city website, which was down for some time today.

This is not the first time the event has stirred controversy. On October 1st, 2008, a local resident protested by handing out fliers demanding “friendship with the Chinese people, not the Chinese government.”

Full Statement from Stewart Chen

Councilmember Stewart Chen’s full response to Action Alameda News, received yesterday, is reproduced in full below.

The Alameda Sister City Association (ASCA) was a spin-off from the Social Services Human Relations Board (SSHRB). It was established as a way of implementing the program that President Dwight D. Eisenhower initiated in 1956. Its aim is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation. Currently, Alameda’s sister cities are Lidingo, Sweden; Arita, Japan; and Wuxi, China. Wuxi is the latest addition to our list of sister cities and we look forward to establishing more Sister-City relationships with other countries in the future to further promote cultural exchange.

I believe that the Sister-City program is a great way for our citizens to gain first-hand knowledge and experience of other cultures. A few months ago, a group of middle-school students from Wuxi visited Alameda through our Sister City program. It’s about getting to know people from different countries at a personal level, without politics. It’s about recognizing and celebrating diversity that would, hopefully, pave the way towards greater understanding and cooperation.

I am joining the event on October 1st to celebrate the Chinese culture and the people of China in the same manner that I attended the Philippine Independence Day celebration that was held in June. Also, in a weeks, I will be attending the 102nd anniversary of the independence of the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan. I think that we need to look beyond politics to recognize and honor the heritage of the different people that make up our country.

Thanks

Stewart Chen

4 comments to Tibetan Rights Group Claims Victory, National Day Ceremony Canceled

  • Allison

    Goof for them! Free Tibet!

  • Marie

    Perhaps they should celebrate sister city events in a less politic and more of a cultural way. Flying the Chinese Flag is very divisive.

  • Question for Stewart Chen, does the City of Alameda celebrate the Sweedish and Japanese National Days by having ceremonies at City Hall on which their flags are raised? Surely, if this is about celebrating sister cities, this is done.

    I bet he doesn’t answer

  • cg

    Yeah…whatever happened to Lidingo??? FREE TIBET.
    I never would have pegged Chen as a communist sympathizer…

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