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Tibetan protests mar Olympic torch lighting ceremony

March 25, 2008

24 Mar 2008

BEIJING: The traditional Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Greece was
on Monday marred by mounting protests against Chinese rule in Tibet as
Beijing vowed to carry the flame to the world's highest peak, Mount
Everest as planned.

Tibet activist groups have called for stopping the Olympic torch relay
from passing through the restive Himalayan region swamped by the Chinese
military to crush the most volatile protests against its rule since 1989.

The ruling Communist leadership has promised the international community
that it would ensure a smooth run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Beijing is keen that successful games will bolster its international image.

Despite strict security arrangements, two demonstrators ran onto the
field at Ancient Olympia in Greece during the flame-lighting ceremony,
which was showed on Chinese state television with some delay.

Cameras abruptly cut away when a man carrying a black flag with
handcuffs used to symbolise the five Olympics rings ran behind Liu Qi,
the president of Beijing's Olympics Organising Committee and Beijing
Communist Party Secretary, was giving a speech. Police detained the two
men, media reports said.

Officers also detained one Tibetan campaigner and a Greek photographer
with him just outside the venue.

Apprehending trouble, around 1,000 police officers were deployed in
ancient Olympia, where the games originated 3,000 years ago, for the
traditional torch lighting ceremony.

The torch is to arrive March 31 in Beijing. The flame is to be carried
through 20 countries, including India to the 8,848-meter high Mt Everest
in Tibet in May for the Games that will begin on August 8.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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