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Unofficial pro-Tibet torch delivered to Olympic headquarters

May 2, 2008

The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

LAUSANNE, Switzerland: Pro-Tibet groups carried an unofficial torch to
the front door of the Olympic movement Tuesday and asked for the
official torch relay to China to be stopped.

About 200 supporters of the Tibetan Freedom Torch followed its path from
the center of Lausanne to the headquarters of the International Olympic

"We are demanding that the official torch should not be carried on Mount
Everest and through Tibet," said Kelsang Gope, of the self-styled
Tibetan National Olympic Committee.

The rival Tibetan torch is being presented as a symbol of its people's
desire for autonomy from China.

It is following a global route from Ancient Greece similar to the
Olympic torch which has been a focus of anti-China demonstrations on its
six-continent relay around the world.

The official torch is scheduled to be carried under heavy security guard
up Everest, a site holy to Tibetans, later this week and to arrive in
Beijing for the Aug. 8 opening ceremony.

"It's an act of provocation and a demonstration of power by China to
suppress the Tibetan people," Gope said.

Tibet has been under Chinese rule since the 1950s and was the scene of
violent clashes in the capital, Lhasa, last month between Tibetan
Buddhist monks and government forces.

The Tibetan torch arrived in Switzerland five days ago, and was carried
to the IOC by Tibetan women's distance runner Lhazom Punkang.

Supporters then presented their demand that the IOC stop the Olympic
torch relay.

"The IOC really has to be aware of its responsibilities to remind China
of the promises they made when they got the Games seven years ago," Gope
said. "They said the human rights situation in Tibet would improve, and
it has got worse."

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said the issue of Tibet's sovereignty
was not part of the movement's mandate.

"While the IOC recognizes the emotions around Tibet, it should be
remembered that Tibet, as acknowledged by the U.N. and world community,
is part of China," she said.

"The torch was always scheduled to travel extensively throughout all
regions in the host country. It is our expectation and hope that the
torch's journey through this region of the country will pass
respectfully and that any dissent be handled with a proportionate response."
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