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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?"

Tibet protesters gather in Canberra for relay

April 23, 2008

Gareth Trickey
Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia
April 22, 2008

CANBERRA police are bracing themselves for heated scenes at the Olympic
torch relay as pro-Tibet activists and Chinese expats descend on the
nation's capital.

Hundreds of activists are already converging on the streets of Canberra
in preparation for tomorrow's event.

About 150 Tibetan sympathisers and exiled citizens left Melbourne today
to protests on the lawns of Parliament House.

A further 400 pro-Tibet activists from Sydney are expected to join the
group tomorrow.

Scores of Chinese expats in Australia are also believed to be heading to
the national’s capital to greet the flame.

Police have ramped up security along the torch relay route following
attacks on the event in Paris and London.

Concerns are growing about possible clashes between rival groups.

Convenor of the Victorian branch of the Australia Tibet Council, Alison
Ribush, said the council was working with police to prevent the two
parties from meeting.

"We know we are going to be faced with thousands of Chinese people,” Ms
Ribush said.

“If you are an ex-political prisoner and you’ve seen your family killed
and you’re faced with some Chinese student taunting you, it’s going to
be pretty hard.

“What we are stressing is we don’t intend to disrupt the torch in any way.

“But there may be some lone Tibet supporters who decide to follow the
torch and do their own thing, but we can’t control anyone.”

The ACT Government has introduced unprecedented restrictions on the
Australian media for the historic event.

Police have erected 1m-high barricades along the entire 16km route to
prevent scenes similar to those in London and Paris.

Ms Ribush said Tibetan sympathisers were not opposed to China holding
the Olympics or the Australian leg of the torch relay.

She said the relay was a positive and had thrown the spotlight on China
and its actions in Tibet.

“We are not in any way against the Chinese,” Ms Ribush said.

“We are objecting to the current policies of the Chinese communist party
in Tibet, not to the Chinese people.”
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