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Pro-Tibet activists hold vigil outside Chinese embassy

April 24, 2008

Sydney Morning Herald,
April 23, 2008

Pro-Tibet activists have held a vigil outside the Chinese embassy in
Canberra where they were urged to avoid clashing with pro-China
demonstrators during tomorrow's Olympic torch relay.

About 150 people gathered for the vigil in honour of those who have been
killed in recent unrest in the Himalayan region.

Police kept watch over the vigil and the front doors of the Chinese
embassy were locked.

Earlier, about 20 Chinese people watched on from inside the embassy gates.

Australia Tibet Council chairman George Farley spoke to the crowd,
seated with their legs crossed amid a sea of candles, urging them to
restrain from violent action during the relay tomorrow.

"The world believes the cause of Tibet is moral,'' Mr Farley said.

But he warned world opinion could change if tomorrow's protests turned ugly.

Mr Farley said the non-violent approach endorsed by the Dalai Lama was
the only approach to take.

"If they (pro-China activists) spit on you, just wear it.

"If they attack you, run away. Do not approach the Chinese, do not
interact with them.''

On the other side of the city's Lake Burley Griffin, fireworks erupted
in celebration of the flame's arrival in Canberra.

Ian Thorpe on torch relay

Swimming great Ian Thorpe says he hopes pro-Tibet protesters respect the
Olympic flame during the torch relay in Canberra tomorrow.

Thorpe, who will carry an Olympic torch for the first time in Canberra,
also hopes any protests are peaceful.

A major security operation has been planned for tomorrow's Beijing
Olympic torch relay, following protests over China's human rights record
in Tibet during the flame's progress in Europe, the US and Asia.

Thorpe will be the last of about 80 torchbearers tomorrow to carry the
flame, which arrived in Canberra this morning.

He says he is excited and undaunted by the prospect of demonstrations
during the torch's only appearance in Australia.

"I'm not worried," Thorpe told the Olympics news site, Around The Rings,
after flying in to Canberra this morning.

"I hope it's a peaceful protest and (there's) respect that this is the
Olympic flame and it stands for a lot more than just the situation in
China."

Thorpe says he is looking forward to the torch relay.

"I'm actually quite excited by it, I haven't done it before so this is
the first one for me," he said.

Thorpe will carry the torch for the final leg of the relay to Canberra's
Commonwealth Park before lighting the Olympic cauldron at a ceremony on
the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) official Qu
Yingpu later repeated the Chinese Ambassador's comments that flame
attendants may use their bodies to protect the flame.

AAP and Yuko Narushima
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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