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Olympic torch to make stop in Tibetan capital, 3 months after rioting rocked city

June 23, 2008

The Associated Press
June 20, 2008

LHASA, China -- The capital of Tibet prepared Friday to host the
Olympic torch relay, three months after violent anti-government
rioting rocked the city.

The relay, which was disrupted during several legs outside of China
by protests against Beijing's policies in Tibet, was scheduled to be
held in Lhasa on Saturday.

The 6.8-mile (11-kilometer) run will begin at Norbulingka, the Dalai
Lama's former summer palace, and end at the hilltop Potala Palace,
the traditional seat of Tibetan rulers, the state-run China Daily
newspaper reported.

The article did not mention any security measures taken for the
relay, although stringent controls were expected in light of the
anti-government rioting that broke out March 14 in Lhasa and
subsequent protests throughout Tibetan-inhabited regions of western China.

On Friday, shops were open and people were walking around in the
center of Lhasa, where banners saying "Go China" and "Go Olympics"
had been strung up.

Clumps of police were visible on virtually every street corner and a
truckload of riot troops stood watch in the city center. Police
stopped an AP Television News cameraman from shooting street scenes
and forced him to erase footage of security arrangements. APTN is the
television arm of The Associated Press.

Chinese officials say the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader,
was behind the March unrest. They also accuse the 1989 Nobel Peace
Prize laureate of trying to sabotage the Beijing Olympics and
preparing "suicide squads" to carry out attacks. The Dalai Lama has
denied the charges.

Tibet has been under a security clampdown since March and is still
closed to foreign tourists. Foreign journalists have been allowed to
visit only as part of closely monitored government tours.

Activist groups say the torch relay leg in Tibet and a separate relay
to the peak of Mount Everest are an attempt by Chinese leaders to
symbolize their control over the Himalayan region.

China says it has ruled Tibet for centuries, although many Tibetans
say their homeland was essentially independent for much of that time.

During the Lhasa leg, the Olympic flame will be reunited with the one
that was taken separately to the top of Mount Everest last month.

The torch was originally supposed to go through Tibet on June 18 or
19. It was unclear why organizers changed the date.

Organizers also said last month that the Tibetan leg, originally set
for three days, would be cut to one day to make way for a switch in
the visit to Sichuan province, the center of a May 12 earthquake that
killed nearly 70,000 people.

The torch has thus far had a smooth run in China, undisturbed by the
protests over Tibet and human rights that hounded several legs of its
international tour.
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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