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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."

Torch greeted by low-key reception in Indian capital

April 20, 2008

Randeep Ramesh in Delhi
The Guardian,
Friday April 18 2008

Thousands of Indian police shut down the country's capital yesterday,
emptying the streets of crowds and protesters as the Olympic torch was
carried a short distance in a ceremony drained of pomp and celebration.

In a largely successful attempt to snuff out protests by members of the
world's largest Tibetan community, Indian paramilitaries and police
swooped on any large gatherings near the flame carriers as they ran from
the presidential palace to the historic India Gate monument.

Left watching the torchbearers were flag-waving Chinese officials and a
few dozen school children bussed in for the event. Sponsors complained
that staff had been given passes for the torch ceremony but were not
allowed to attend by over-zealous security guards.

Some protesters did manage to break the security cordon. One group
burned Chinese flags while another unfurled banners. However, most were
met with disproportionate force - one Tibetan was wrestled to the ground
on Indian television by 12 police officers. More than 200 protesters
were arrested, say activists.

Analysts criticised the government for kowtowing to China. "I think we
bent over backwards to an extent that was more than necessary," said G
Parthasarthy, a former spokesman for the Indian government. "The Chinese
were upset over the Dalai Lama being here and therefore the government
wanted an incident-free event. But [security] was extreme."

Earlier in the day thousands of Tibetans marched in protest from the
site of Mahatma Gandhi's funeral pyre to a Delhi park and raised
anti-China slogans alongside the Tibetan flag.

Many of those at the event were young Indian-born Tibetans who have
never seen their "motherland". "We are not against the Olympics, we just
do not think it should be held in a country where there are no human
rights and where Tibetans are murdered," said Tenzin Lhadong, a
22-year-old call centre worker from Delhi. "It is our right to speak out."

Fearing that protests would spiral out of control India cut short the
route to a third of the original five-mile distance, restricting it to a
high-security stretch. Many prominent names had declined to carry the torch.

Meanwhile, in Kathmandu, Nepalese police detained more than 500 Tibetan
exiles who protested near the city's Chinese embassy.
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