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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China 'rented' torch crowd

April 27, 2008


Canberra - Chinese officials orchestrated a huge turnout of pro-Beijing
students for the Olympic torch's Australian appearance to swamp
pro-Tibetan protesters, Canberra's top city official said on Friday.

Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Jon Stanhope told Sydney's
Daily Telegraph that Chinese embassy officials helped organise a crowd
of more than 10 000 supporters for the torch relay's visit on Thursday.

"I have absolutely no doubt," Stanhope said. "In fact the ambassador has
indicated that he was in contact with representative Chinese
organisational groups, most part in Sydney and Melbourne.

"I don't know the nature of the links or the organisation, but I know
there was contact between the embassy and Chinese representative groups."

The pro-China crowd vastly outnumbered about 2 000 pro-Tibet activists
protesters, at times jostling and heckling them.


The Telegraph, without quoting sources, said it understood Beijing's
officials in Canberra were in constant contact with travel companies and
student leaders who were recruiting crowd members.

It said China organised a "rent-a-crowd" in Canberra to try to ensure a
trouble-free passage for the relay, which was disrupted by pro-Tibet
protests in London and Paris and rerouted due to security fears in San

Australian officials admitted on Thursday that they were surprised at
the Chinese turnout for the relay.

"We didn't expect this reaction from the Chinese community, which is
obviously a well co-ordinated plan to take the day by weight of
numbers," Canberra Olympic relay committee spokesperson Ted Quinlan said
at the time.

The relay's appearance in Canberra was largely peaceful, although there
were seven arrests and tensions between rival Tibetan and Chinese

There was controversy when Australian police tussled with the Chinese
"flame attendants" - described as "thugs" by London Olympics official
Sebastian Coe - to ensure they had no security role on the day.
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