April 7, 2008

Beleaguered Olympic Torch Bussed into Paris

Isn’t it about time we Americans step up and show some serious support for human rights and basic civil liberties in China? It’s really amazing how more devoted some of us are to “political correctness” than in recognizing the simple fact that the people of Tibet have started a truly amazing movement which is spreading throughout China. It’s no longer enough to debate who’s on what side when people are imprisoned for having a photograph of this week's "counter-revolutionary," nor is it "progressive" to assume everybody in Tibet is a prop for the CIA, Chinese warlords or Black Hat Buddhists! Vive Le France! Right On, London! Get Your Feet in the Streets, San Francisco!

Olympic Torch Relay in Paris Halted as Protests Spread
Published: April 8, 2008
PARIS — What was supposed to be a majestic procession for the Olympic torch through the French capital turned into chaos Monday as thousands of people from around Europe, many with Tibetan flags, massed to protest the passage of the flame. The torch went out several times, and police officers had to put it onto a bus to try to protect it as demonstrators swarmed the security detail. In the end, organizers canceled the final leg of the procession.
A police spokeswoman, speaking on the condition of anonymity in accordance with policy, said the torch went out “for technical reasons” unrelated to the protests, without offering further clarification. CNN reported that the torch was extinguished at least twice amid the melee, and The Associated Press said officials were forced to extinguish the flame five times to carry it in the safety of the bus.
[...] It was yet another unscripted moment in the passage of the Olympic flame, and the second time in two days that the torch relay had been disrupted in a European capital.
Some 3,000 police officers in Paris — on foot, horseback, in-line skates and motorbikes and even in boats on the Seine — tried to prevent a repeat of the scenes in London on Sunday, when the torch’s progression through the streets turned into a tumult of scuffles. One man broke through a tight security cordon in the London protests and made a failed grab for the torch, and 35 people were arrested.
[...] Officers with machine guns guarded sensitive Metro exits along the 17-mile route.
“One would almost think oneself in Lhasa,” said Jean-Paul Ribes, leader of the Support Committee of the Tibetan People in France, who was among the thousands massed on the Trocadero square, across the Seine from the Eiffel tower, where the flame began its passage through Paris. “It snowed last night, now the sky is blue — and police are everywhere,” Mr. Ribes said.
Many protesters — demonstrating against China’s human rights policies in general, or for a free Tibet, or simply for a boycott of the Olympics in Beijing — echoed a headline emblazoned across the front page of the left-wing daily Liberation, under a picture of the Olympic rings restyled as handcuffs: “Liberate The Olympic Games!”
[...] Tibetan organizations have said they plan protests at every stop on the torch’s 21-nation tour. After Paris, it moves to San Francisco, its only American stop, on Wednesday. The monthlong tour is scheduled to end in Vietnam; it is to be followed by a six-week, 46-stop tour of China.
[...] One protester who broke through the police cordon, David Allen, said his anger flared at the sight of British sports stars being guarded in London by Chinese security men.
“It makes us complicit in the regime’s repression,” Allen said. ”You have to ask: Where were these security men last week? Beating up people in the villages of China, no doubt.”
Retired French tennis player Arnaud Di Pasquale carried an extinguished Olympic torch to a bus for safe keeping. A police spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with policy, said the torch went out "for technical reasons" unrelated to the protests, without offering further clarification.

1 comment:

Curly said...

It as a Black day for Gordon Brown and the UK govt.

Who authorised the use of Chinese security personnel in London?