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San Francisco: Demonstration at Chinese Consulate – SFT Condemns Assault of Activists by Consular Officials

August 6, 2008 · Print This Article

Five Tibet activists, including two Tibetan women, blockaded the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on the morning of August 6th.  Three of the activists, Tenzin Khando Tsering (of Salt Lake City, UT), Megan Swoboda (of Oakland, CA) and Sabba Saleen Syal (of San Francisco, CA) chained themselves to the consulate’s entrance, while Nyendak Wangden (of Suisun City, CA) and Brihannala Morgan (of Oakland, CA) staged an eerily realistic mock hanging, intended to symbolize the hundreds of Tibetans who have been killed by the Chinese authorities in recent months.

However, this action took a shocking turn when Chinese consulate officials assaulted two of the activists.  Please read SFT’s statement below.
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SFT Condemns Assault of Nonviolent Protesters by Chinese Consular Officials in San Francisco; Calls for accountability

San Francisco, CA – Activists were outraged Wednesday morning August 6th when Chinese Consulate officials cut the climbing rope of a young Tibetan woman engaged in a nonviolent protest at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, causing her to fall more than 15 feet, striking a balcony below.

Twenty-two year-old Nyendak Wangden fell more than 15 feet from the consulate roof to a balcony below after consular officials appear to have cut her climbing rope. Wangden was staging a symbolic mock-hanging from the consulate roof to draw attention to China’s occupation of Tibet and its brutal crackdown against Tibetans in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On the ground below, three women, Sabba Saleem Syal, Megan Swoboda and Tenzin Khando, had chained themselves to the entranceway of the building, and held a banner reading “Tibetans are dying for freedom.”

On the roof to ensure the safety of Wangden was Brihannala Morgan, 26, of Oakland. Shortly after Wangden rappelled over the edge of the roof, Morgan was accosted by three male consular officials who struck her with a metal pipe. The assault was captured on video taken from a neighboring building. Morgan was on the roof to support Wangden and repeatedly explained to the officials that they were nonviolent protesters and that Wangden’s life would be in danger if they cut the rope.

Officials ignored Morgan’s pleas and a female consular official on the roof then made cutting motions on Wangden’s climbing rope. The rope then went slack and Wangden plummeted to the balcony below. Wangden was removed from the balcony by San Francisco city rescue crews using ladders and a stretcher after consular officials refused them entry into the building. The climbing equipment bears incisions consistent with being cut by a sharp implement, according to Derek St. Pierre, Wangden’s lawyer and an experienced rock climber himself.

Wangden was taken to the hospital by paramedics and miraculously suffered only a fractured wrist. Both women were held overnight in federal prison and then released on bond. They face federal charges with maximum sentences of 6 months in prison and a fine.

Students for a Free Tibet is relying on the US government to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and believes that Chinese officials should be held accountable for this act of life-threatening violence against a peaceful protester. The deliberate act of cutting Wangden’s rope reflects the attitude that Chinese officials maintain towards peaceful protesters and towards Tibetans in and outside Tibet. Right now in Tibet, Tibetans are suffering under a brutal Chinese government crackdown, and at least 1,000 Tibetans remain missing since a widespread popular uprising in March.

Click HERE to see NBC footage regarding the incident.

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