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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?"

Tibetan activists stage symbolic torch relay in Taiwan

February 25, 2008

TAIPEI, 24 Feb (AFP) - Tibetan activists on Sunday staged a symbolic
torch relay in Taipei ahead of their "Olympics", a move sure to irk
China after Taiwan refused to allow the torch for the Beijing Games on
its soil.

Former Miss Tibet Tsering Chungtak, clad in a traditional robe, held
the torch on the square in front of Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall,
where a small group of Tibetans and Taiwanese had gathered, waving a
"Tibetan Olympics" flag.

The Tibetan Olympics, an event for Tibetans in exile from around the
world, will be held in Dharamsala, India -- home to the region's
government-in-exile -- in May.

"Organising the Tibetan Olympics is a good event because we all love
sports," Tsering told AFP.

"It will provide a platform for Tibetan youths. They can come and play
in different sport events."

Tsering denied that the Tibetan torch relay, which started in New
Delhi late last month, had any political overtones.

But officials in China were likely to bristle.

Taiwan last year flatly rejected China's offer of taking the Olympic
torch for the 2008 Beijing Games to Taipei, after talks collapsed over
the sensitive issues of which flags, songs and emblems would be used
on the island's leg.

Chinese Olympic organisers had demanded that only flags, emblems and
songs approved by the International Olympic Committee should be used
in the Taiwan relay.

Taiwan is not allowed to use its national flags, insignia or songs at
IOC events or other international sports competitions.

Taiwan and China split in 1949. Beijing regards the island as part of
its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

China sent troops into Tibet in 1950 and officially "liberated" it a year later.

The Dalai Lama later fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising and
established a government-in-exile in Dharamsala. He has been at odds
with the atheist communist government in Beijing ever since.
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