Olympic torch China-protest resolution reduced to ashes

The Olympic torch for the Summer Games in Beijing is set to go on a “journey of harmony” around the world, but its scheduled stop in San Francisco is flaming discord.

Ongoing protests in San Francisco are expected to continue leading up to the April 9 torch ceremony in The City as those critical of China’s human rights record and its recent crackdown on Tibetan unrestcall on city officials to join in denouncing that government.

On Thursday, hundreds of protesters attended a Board of Supervisors committee hearing on a controversial resolution introduced by Supervisor Chris Daly that urges the city representative receiving the torch in San Francisco to “make publicly known that the 2008 Summer Games Torch is received with alarm and protest” for China’s “egregious and ongoing human rights abuses.”

San Francisco was selected as the only North American stop for the Olympic torch.

“With the pomp and the pageantry and many of the positives that come along with being the lone host city in the United States of the Olympic torch comes significant responsibility,” Daly said. “It is imperative that we as leaders in San Francisco weigh in on human rights issues in China.”

Daly’s resolution, however, did not make it out of the committee. Committee chair Supervisor Carmen Chu introduced an amendment that makes no direct reference to China’s human rights record. The new version was approved in a 2-1 vote, with support from Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick voted no after his request to send both versions to the full board was denied.

Chu’s version also welcomes two other torch events, not sponsored by the Olympics committee — the Tibetan Freedom Torch and a Human Rights Torch — that are also on worldwide tours with stops in San Francisco.

Chu said her version is a “good balance” that represents the different points of view. The resolution is scheduled to be voted on by the full Board on April 1.

Mayor Gavin Newsom was critical of Daly’s resolution. “If folks want to beat up China, beat up China but don’t beat up the spirit of the Olympics,” he said.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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