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Utah man receiving threats after case of mistaken identity

   |  Posted Apr 13th, 2008 @ 5:34pm



 

Sandra Yi reporting

Pro-Tibetan protesters have disrupted the Olympic torch relay as it travels around the world. One such disruption happened in San Francisco last week. There were so many protesters and such heavy security, the torch relay changed routes several times to keep people from interfering. Still, the relay had to be cut short.

The situation looked the same in London just days earlier. Protests there erupted right after the torch left Wembley Stadium. Demonstrators at some points tried to grab the torch from runners, causing lots of commotion. At least 30 people were arrested.

What happened in London has disrupted the life of a Tibetan here in Utah. He's received a lot of threats in what appears to be a case of mistaken identity.

A group of Tibetans have gathered at the Indian Walk-In Center. There is a vigil going on to pray for those suffering under Chinese rule in Tibet. One man there has been a part of protests in San Francisco, but he's being blamed for something that happened thousands of miles away, in London.

Lobsang Gendun, a Tibetan immigrant, said, "I totally support the Olympics. I want the Olympics to be held in China so that Chinese people will be exposed to the outside world."

But Gendun also wants the world to know about what he says is going on in his native Tibet. "There's no freedom of religion, there's no freedom of expression," he said.

Last week, Gendun traveled to San Francisco for a protest during the 2008 Olympic torch relay. His life hasn't been the same since. "First, I didn't know what was going on. My family, they were so scared."

His phone began to ring in the middle of the night. At first, they were hang-ups. More calls followed with threatening and obscene messages. Messages left on his answering machine include, "Hey, I wish you to die and go to Hell (obscenity)," and, "Please remember that if you want to be an enemy of the whole Chinese people, then you are doomed, OK?"

The calls kept coming, even during our interview this afternoon. Gendun has also received more than 100 threatening emails.

All of this is because they think Gendun is the man in a picture taken as the Olympic torch passed through London. A protester tried to take the torch from a girl in a wheelchair.

Gendun says he's responded to some of the emails, and even tried to talk to some of the callers to explain they're misinformed. "Sometimes they will just swear at me, and I say, 'Thank you, thank you'. That's all I say," he told us.

The calls are coming from all over the world, including China and New York. Gendun doesn't know how he got mistaken for the man in London. If the calls continue, though, Gendun says he'll go to the police.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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