Gere Urges China To Grant Tibetan Independence

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Hollywood actor and humanitarian Richard Gere joined protestors in California on Tuesday (08Apr08) to voice his support for Tibetan independence.
The Pretty Woman star - who is chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet - attended a candlelight vigil in San Francisco late on Tuesday, where he gave a speech to the 2,000-strong crowd condemning the Chinese government's treatment of Tibetans.
The protest came less than 24 hours before the Californian leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay.
Speaking to the campaigners, Gere said: "This torch is going through China and the world co-opting the idea of harmony to push a political position.
"The harmonious society (Chinese president) Hu Jintao talks about is a fraud. There can be no harmony without freedom of religion and culture."
Gere also read out a message from the Dalai Lama, reminding the protestors to steer clear of any violence during the torch relay: "It is the legitimate right of every Tibetan to struggle for their freedoms and right. On the other hand, it would be futile and not helpful to anyone if we do something that would create hatred in the minds of the Chinese people."
And Gere - who has branded China "one of the greatest human rights abusers on the planet" - went on to reveal his vision for the future of the troubled region: "I have a dream that Chinese leaders wake up one day, blink their eyes as if coming out of a daze and say 'Oh my god, what have we done?', then look at each other at the same time and say, 'let's go talk to the Dalai Lama."
The Olympic flame was lit in Greece last week (ends06Apr08) and will travel trough 20 countries before it's carried into the Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremony on 8 August (08).


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