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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

No Tibetan flags allowed at Olympic equestrian events: organisers

July 20, 2008

HONG KONG July 18, 2008 (AFP) — Spectators and competitors at the
Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong will be banned from displaying
any political slogans, including pro-Tibet flags, organisers said Friday.

Under the Olympic charter, all forms of political propaganda are banned
and tight security at venues in the territory will ensure the rules are
complied with, said John Breen co-ordinator of security and support for
the equestrian events.

"Tibetan flags are prohibited under the rules," Breen told reporters,
adding that the Tibetan flag was "not representative of a country".

Security staff deployed at venues hosting the equestrian events from
August 8-21 would police the ban, he said.

The equestrian events of jumping, dressage and cross-country are being
held in Hong Kong as part of the Beijing 2008 Games because China could
not guarantee a disease-free environment for the horses. They are
expected to attract around 16,000 spectators.

Announcing "house rules for spectators" at the Olympic events, Breen
said the regulations did not carry the weight of law, and no one found
in breach would face criminal charges.

Nor would security staff at the venues have power to conduct body
searches to ensure ticket holders were not wearing clothing displaying
political messages, or carrying contentious flags or posters, he said.

Rather, anyone who did break the rules -- by, for instance, holding
aloft a Tibetan flag -- would "simply be removed from the venue," Breen

China's communist government is particularly sensitive about the display
of pro-Tibetan banners and flags at the Olympics as its rule of the
Himalayan region is a popular worldwide political cause.

Since riots broke out in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and other cities in
March, a government crackdown on anti-Chinese sentiment among Tibetans
has been criticised by human rights groups and activists for its severity.

While security across China, and especially in Beijing, has been
tightened in the lead-up to the Games, Hong Kong remains proud of its
tradition of tolerance and protest, and few of the city's seven million
people have much interest in the events to be hosted here.

Benny Lau, senior manager of security and support for the equestrian
events, conceded that displays of political propaganda, including those
most likely to cause offense to Beijing such as its rule of Tibet and
its role in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur, are not illegal in
Hong Kong.

But, he said, "political, religious, racial slogans will be disallowed"
at Olympic venues.
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