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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

I don't want to run with the torch as a caged woman: Kiran Bedi

April 10, 2008

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Rediffmail.com
April 09, 2008 11:08 IST

Former Delhi top cop Kiran Bedi has lashed out at the tight security
arrangements ahead of the Olympic torch relay to be held in the Capital
on April 17.

"I am a sportswoman. I do not want to run with the torch as a caged
woman. Why turn India Gate into a zoo? What is the point of running with
the torch? I do not want to participate in a caged environment. If you
make the environment so suffocating, then it is better to let the torch
travel on wheels or with the Army." Bedi said, speaking exclusively with
rediff.com.

Bedi, a former national-level tennis champion, is having second thoughts
on participating in the controversial torch relay ceremony to be held in
New Delhi.

Bedi's possible turnaround may displease the Chinese. "I am not running
to please anybody. I am running out of my love of sports. I am into it
purely as a sportswoman," she asserted.

Bedi was invited by Coca-cola to join a group of six celebrities, which
includes Aamir Khan, to participate in the ceremony. After initially
agreeing, Bedi may reverse her stand.

She told rediff.com, "Olympics stand for excellence in maximum human
endeavour through sports. It also unites humankind in the spirit of
sports. But it also stands for universal peace, brotherhood and unity".

When asked about the security concerns vis-?-vis celebrities like Sachin
Tendulkar, Aamir Khan and herself, she said, "We are not the target. The
target is the torch, which is a symbol. The agitators are just making a
point".

When asked if she expects any serious disturbances during the April 17
ceremony, she said, "When I was a police officer, I have dealt with
Tibetans. They are tough agitators. They have strong conviction and a
will to sacrifice".

Speaking about the government's concerns over security, she said,
"Security plays spoil-sport in everything now. It has walled the world
completely and taken the joy out of many things. Human concerns are a
responsibility, but creative human activity is a necessity".

Explaining her initial decision to join the torch relay ceremony, she
told rediff.com, "I was contacted by Coca-cola to participate in the
event. I was invited to be a member of the Coca-cola group at the event.
Actor Amir Khan is also the part of the group".

On being invited to participate in the relay, she said, "It is always
truly an honour. I was not invited because I was a cop or a diplomat,
but because I am a sportswoman. Out of my love of sports, I had accepted
the invitation".

"I owe a lot to sports," she said, adding, "Do you think any woman could
have entered the Indian police service without a sports background in
1972? My merits as a sportswoman helped me become the first woman police
officer in the country".

Asked if she was, in any way, disturbed by the ongoing protests by
Tibetans against Chinese action in Lhasa, she replied, "I am not at all
surprised, hence not disturbed. This was bound to happen. It should not
take anyone by surprise, including China. This is one issue which, till
amicably and justly resolved, will remain. It involves the human tragedy
of a loss of ones motherland and ones own home".

On the Tibetans' struggle, Bedi said, "Their righteous crusade must go
on. My contention is that it should not be linked to the Games. The
exhilarating moment of the Olympics should not be a dividing factor. Why
should Tibetans be alone in their fight? Why agitate only when the
Olympics are on? World attention should be on them otherwise too".

When asked about the pressure on celebrity participants by Tibetans and
their supporters to not participate in any events related to Beijing
Olympics, she said, "When the IOC awarded China the Olympics Games, they
must have considered all these aspects. I strongly believe that the
Olympics are a uniting force and should not divide people of the world".

She advised the activists who are supporting the cause of Tibet,
"Encouraging the Olympics and the torch relay, the protest becomes more
potent. Support can be expressed through interviews, speeches, writings
and peaceful congregations without disrupting the Games."

Speaking on the mixing of politics in sports, Bedi said, "I understand
that the two are becoming inseparable for various compulsions. But
targeting them is killing sports too. And sport is important for
humanity. What a sport inculcates, nothing else does".
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