Several hundred activists protested Friday near downtown Los Angeles’ JW Marriott Hotel in a pro-Tibet human rights demonstration. They aimed to draw the attention of China’s next president, Xi Jinping, as he concludes a two-day visit to Los Angeles.
Around an easel that held a framed photo of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, demonstrators wrapped themselves in Tibetan flags and protested what they called Chinese injustices.
“His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has been working for solving this Tibet issue with China’s government without any violence," said activist Ten Zinnyima as L.A. police directed him and fellow protesters to clear the sidewalk in front of the hotel.
They joined hundreds of demonstrators across the street who beat drums, meditated in long rows along the sidewalk and waved banners that read “Brutal China Out of Tibet.”
In recent years, China has restricted access to Tibet. Critics of China’s human rights record say that country has wrongly imprisoned religious and cultural activists.
Dekyi Yangchan works as a nanny in the East Bay. She traveled by bus to participate in demonstration.
“Under all this repression, under the Chinese there’s ... no freedom of religion, no freedom at all," Yangchan says.
Demonstration organizer and minister Edward Romero was arrested when he protested in Beijing several years ago. Romero says the L.A. demonstration focuses on six activists Chinese communist leaders wrongly imprisoned.
“Everything is under their umbrella, therefore producing what we call ‘one party paranoia,’" Romero explained. "And when anything begins to arise and even has a distant appearance of challenging it, it begins to exert itself, even violently.
L.A. police arrested Romero as he protested in the middle of Olympic Boulevard. The Tibetan protest comes directly on the heels of a Falun Gong protest, also triggered by the West Coast visit of China's next president.