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Aussie group launches Tibet protest kit

July 17, 2008

SYDNEY, Australia Monday July 14, 2008 (AP) -Australian athletes and
fans can now pack a handy protest kit to Beijing that will show their
support for Tibet. The Australian Olympic Committee thinks they've got
too much baggage.

The pack, launched by the Australia Tibet Council in Sydney on Monday by
former Olympic swimmer Michelle Engelsman, includes a T-shirt in
Australia's green and gold national colors featuring the words "I
support human rights'' in both Mandarin and English.

It also contains a collection of badges, stickers and temporary tattoos
showing the Tibetan flag.

The T-shirt's slogan was chosen to ensure it doesn't make explicit
reference to Tibet, campaign coordinator Dr. Simon Bradshaw said. But he
said the badges and stickers "don't necessarily fall within the rules of
the Australian Olympic Committee'' and may not be allowed into the
Olympic Village.

Bradshaw also said there was "every chance'' the resource packs could be
confiscated when they enter China.

AOC spokesman Mike Tancred said his organization had recommended that no
athlete traveling to China take the pack.

"There is a Chinese law which says you cannot take that kind of material
into the country,'' Tancred said. "And it is also a breach of IOC Rule
51, which says there can be no religious, political or racial
demonstrations during the Games.

"We strongly recommend against them taking any of these packs. We don't
condone the T-shirts in particular because they can only antagonize
other athletes, including Chinese, in the village, and we want to avoid

Engelsman, who competed at the Athens Olympics, said the packs in no way
placed pressure on athletes to speak out in Beijing.

"There are a lot of socially conscious athletes, but whether or not they
decide to speak out at the Games is up to them,'' Engelsman said.

The packs also contain background information on Tibet and guidelines on
what athletes and spectators going to Beijing can do, according to the
Olympic charter.

The Australia Tibet Council will provide the packs in confidence to any
Australian heading to Beijing.

Peaceful protests that began on March 10 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa
to mark the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against China's rule of Tibet
escalated into widespread violence across the city on March 14.

China says 22 people died in Lhasa, while foreign Tibet supporters say
many times that number were killed during the demonstrations and
subsequent crackdown.

The Olympic torch relay was also marred by protests in many parts of the
world, particularly in Europe and the United States.
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