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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Chinese spectators 'attacked Tibet protesters at Canberra torch relay'

April 25, 2008

Times Online
April 24, 2008

Mobs of Chinese supporters were accused of assaulting pro-Tibet
campaigners on the sidelines of the Olympic torch relay in Australia
today as scuffles broke out and at least seven protesters were arrested.

There was none of the violence or disruption that marred the torch relay
in London or Paris, and the Olympic flame travelled uninterrupted
through Canberra, the capital.

But observers said that behind the barricades Chinese nationals
assaulted Tibetan activists and tore down their flags. Confrontations
between an estimated 15,000 China supporters and about 3,000 pro-Tibet
demonstrators reportedly flared all along the 16km route as the groups
held aloft opposing banners and shouted competing slogans.

In one incident, an Australian couple waving a Tibetan flag were said to
have been mobbed by dozens of Chinese activists and punched.

During the relay itself, pushing and shoving broke out between police
and two Chinese attendants accompanying the torch.

One spectator said that he and others were assaulted by group of Chinese
supporters who were following the torch's progress from behind the barriers.

Alastair Paterson and his seven-year-old daughter were standing next to
a small group, which included a woman with a homemade banner saying
"Free Tibet".

He said that as the torch passed by a gang of people with Chinese flags
and sticks ran past.

"One bloke lined me up and kicked me and as I turned around he ran
away," he said. "I took a step towards him and three or four others said
'Come on, Come on'. They wanted to fight me. The woman's husband got hit
across the head with a stick. The woman got jostled. The banner got torn
down and they basically ran off."

But police also wrestled away some pro-Tibet demonstrators, including at
least one who tried to sit in the path of a torchbearer, the former
marathon runner Robert de Castella.

Police running with the torch near Parliament House also wrestled a
protester to the ground and handcuffed him before he was able to get
close to the flame.

The five pro-Chinese and two pro-Tibetan demonstrators who were arrested
remained in custody late today.

But officials declared the event "an outstanding success". Jon Stanhope,
Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, said: "It ran its
full course. It was peaceful. I'm absolutely chuffed."

Metal barricades and 550 police kept protesters away from the torch. The
torchbearers were flanked by Australian police who at one stage
repeatedly pushed aside Chinese officials in blue tracksuits running
close to the flame.

The incident with the controversial so-called Chinese flame attendants
appeared to reflect confusion over their role in the torch's security.

At a press conference yesterday, Australian and Chinese officials argued
over exactly what role the Chinese guards would play. Chinese officials
said that the guards would "use their bodies to form a kind of defence
for the torchbearer" in the event of a threat, while police maintained
that they had sole responsibility for security.

Chinese supporters have denied claims they were brought into Canberra in
up to 100 buses by the Chinese embassy for the visit of the torch, which
was later flown out to Nagano in Japan.
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