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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?"

Resistance snuffed out as Olympic torch tours Tibet

June 24, 2008

By Clifford Coonan in Beijing
The Independent (UK)
June 23, 2008

China paraded the Olympic torch through the streets of Lhasa at the
weekend in a blaze of red flags, eager to present a picture of
national unity and domestic harmony just three months after the
Tibetan provincial capital was rocked by anti-Chinese riots.

With the Olympic Games to begin in Beijing on 8 August, senior
Chinese Communist Party officials in charge of the restive province
used the opportunity of the torch relay to denounce the Dalai Lama
and underline China's tight grip on the Himalayan region. "Tibet's
sky will never change and the red flag with five stars will forever
flutter high above it," said Zhang Qingli, the hardliner who heads
Tibet's Communist Party. "It is certain we will be able to totally
smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai Lama's clique."

Mr Zhang was speaking at a ceremony to mark the end of the two-hour
torch procession through Lhasa, which ended under tight security just
below the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama's former home and a key
symbol of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's religious influence in Tibet.

A handpicked crowd of onlookers watched the Olympic flame pass
through the streets of Lhasa, and groups of Tibetan and ethnic Han
Chinese students waved Olympic banners, the Chinese national flag,
and the hammer and sickle banner of the Communist Party.

A tightly controlled group of foreign media representatives was
allowed watch the relay, which was dogged by protests during its
route through London, Paris and other Western cities. Lhasa was
locked down and shops were closed as the authorities sought to avoid
any repetition. Police and soldiers kept a close watch on the groups
of residents chosen to cheer the torch.

Chinese media said the torch passed through Lhasa "in a joyful and
peaceful atmosphere". It now heads to the neighbouring province of
Qinghai, home to many ethnic Tibetans.

There has been a huge outpouring of sympathy for China in the wake of
the Sichuan earthquake, which left 80,000 dead or missing, and the
relatively open way in which China responded to the tragedy.

But the torch relay, particularly the way it has been run through
Tibet, is a reminder of some of the knotty international issues that
arose from China's crackdown on monks and other anti-Chinese
demonstrators during the March protests.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and is based in
Dharamsala in northern India, fled Lhasa in 1959 after a failed
uprising against Chinese rule, nine years after Communist troops
entered the remote, mountainous region.

Beijing accuses the exiled leader of inciting the Lhasa protests and
riots that spread to other Tibetan areas in Sichuan and Gansu
provinces. The government says the Dalai Lama wants to undermine the
Beijing Olympics, a charge he denies.

Since the protests, his envoys have held talks with Beijing's
representatives about finding a solution.


* 24 March, Olympia
Torch is lit in Greece, but event disrupted by protesters.

* 6 April, London
First major disruption as 37 are arrested and demonstrator tries to
grab torch from the TV presenter Konnie Huq.

* 7 April, Paris
Many demonstrators turn up to planned protests and route has to be cut short.

* 17 April, Delhi
Route scaled back amid security concerns. More than 100 demonstrators
held by thousands of police and soldiers who line the route.

* 24 April, Canberra
Protesters attend the event, although tight security prevents any
major incidents. Part of the route is sealed off with steel fences.

* 26 April, Nagano
Two protesters try to grab the torch and a third throws eggs at the flame.

* 27 April, Seoul
Pro and anti-China demonstrators clash in South Korea despite 8,000
security officers being posted along the torch route.

* 29 April, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The relay through the last city before China is peaceful and only a
handful of activists are arrested. There is heavy security.
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