Join our Mailing List

"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?"

Riot at your peril, Rudd warns Tibet protesters

April 22, 2008

Yuko Narushima and Arjun Ramachandran
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
April 22, 2008

A GREAT wall of steel has been erected along the entire Beijing Olympic
torch relay route in Canberra, with the Prime Minister saying police
would "come down like a ton of bricks" on protesters planning violent
demonstrations.

Kevin Rudd's warning came as the cost of hosting Thursday's event
doubled to almost $2 million.

"If any protesters, irrespective of their political point of view,
engage in unruly, disorderly or violent behaviour, then the police will
come down on them like a ton of bricks," Mr Rudd told the 7.30 Report
last night.

Chinese flame attendants, criticised for their thuggish treatment of
protesters overseas, were also warned. Federal police would "intervene
if anyone else seeks to provide security", Mr Rudd said.

A waist-high metal grille surrounded landmarks such as Parliament House,
the National Art Gallery and the War Memorial.

"It's quite a blow to the innocence of our city but we must do it," the
ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope.

Thousands of interstate protesters are expected to converge on the
capital this week. Among them will be a peaceful group of 16 Tibetan
hunger strikers.

The members of the Tibetan Community of NSW began a 70- kilometre march
from Bungendore to the Chinese embassy in Canberra yesterday to
highlight Chinese human rights abuses.

"We are walking to Canberra in three days without food in a show of
solidarity to Tibetans in Tibet who have been denied access to food and
water and electricity," a spokesman from the group, Tenpa Dugdak, said.
Ranging in age from 13 to 65, the group is due to arrive on Wednesday
night, in time for a candlelight vigil with local Tibetans.

In London, pro-Tibet demonstrators were pushed to the ground and
arrested after trying to snatch the torch and snuff out the flame. In
Paris, the flame was extinguished.

The Australian torch relay organiser, Ted Quinlan, could not rule out
smuggling the torch on to a bus if protests in Canberra got out of
control. "The flame has to be mobile," he said. "Any major disruption
could kill it."

He also promised to talk to event co-ordinators about overturning a ban
on press photographers wishing to follow the torch.

Confusion over the role of the flame attendants deepened when a new
detail blurred the distinction between the paramilitaries' ceremonial
function and the security role of local police.

One flame attendant would trail the torchbearer riding pillion on an ACT
police motorbike, Mr Stanhope said.

The cost of hosting the torch relay was budgeted at $900,000, split
equally between the ACT and the Federal Government. Taxpayers could now
expect that figure to be closer to $2 million. Mr Stanhope was haggling
for more federal funding to cover the difference.

The relay begins with 2007 Young Australian of the Year, Tania Major,
and ends with the swimmer Ian Thorpe. Other torchbearers include the
singer Lee Kernaghan and Gill Hicks, an Adelaide woman who survived the
2005 London bombings.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank