Friday, April 18, 2008

Boycott start of Olympics, Desmond Tutu urges leaders

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu said Tuesday he supported international protests surrounding the Olympic torch and urged world leaders to boycott the games' opening ceremony in Beijing over China's human rights record.

The retired Anglican archbishop from South Africa also called on China to negotiate with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is seeking autonomy for Tibet.

Tutu praised protesters who have put themselves on the line in Paris, San Francisco and elsewhere to protest last month's crackdown in Tibet, which claimed as many as 140 lives.

In particular, he applauded three climbers who hung pro-Tibet banners Monday from the Golden Gate Bridge.

"I salute them," he said.

Tutu was in San Francisco to receive the Outspoken Award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission for his work on behalf of gay and lesbian rights.

The group praised Tutu for challenging homophobia within the Anglican Church, which has been sharply divided over the acceptance of gay and lesbian clergy.


Tibetan independence supporter Xiao Tan, right, and his girlfriend Miao-Chih Tsai, battle with pro-Comminist China supporters to keep the "banned in TIbet" Tibetan National flag along the start of the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco.