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Thai Olympic torchbearer withdraws in protest over China's crackdown in Tibet

March 24, 2008

BANGKOK, Sunday, March 23, 2008 (AP) Thailand, March 23: One of
Thailand's representatives in the Olympic torch relay has withdrawn in
protest over China's recent crackdown on protesters in Tibet, a
statement said Sunday.

Narisa Chakrabongse — one of the country's six torchbearers — said in an
open letter that she decided against taking part in the relay to "send a
strong message to China that the world community could not accept its

Anti-government protests started in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on the
March 10 anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule and
turned violent four days later, touching off demonstrations among
Tibetans in three neighboring provinces.

Beijing's official death toll from the rioting is now 22, but the Dalai
Lama's government-in-exile has said 99 Tibetans have died.

"The slaying of the Tibetans ... is an outright violation of human
rights," Narisa wrote. "It happened two weeks before the Olympic torch
leaves Athens and five months before the Olympic Games. This reflects
the Chinese government's negligence of world sentiment."

Tibetans and their supporters have protested in cities around the world
against China, where the games will be staged.

Some fear the arrival of the Olympic torch — which arrives in Thailand
in April en route to Beijing — could spark violent protests against
China, while others are calling for heads of state, dignitaries and even
corporate sponsors to boycott the Olympics, or at least the opening
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