OLYMPIC PROTESTS AGAINST CHINA'S INVASION OF
Protesters hang a sign on the Golden Gate Bridge Monday
morning April 7, 2008
in protest of the Tibet situation in China. Three
cable-climbing protesters were arrested
after descending shortly after 1 PM.
The protest comes two days before the Olympic
torch is scheduled for it's
San Francisco run leg. (Karl Mondon/Contra Costa Times)
Peaceful protesters using the Beijing Olympics as a
world stage to protest China's human rights record
scaled the Golden Gate Bridge on Monday, while a
continent away, confrontations in Paris forced an early
end to the torch relay.
But so far, the idea of protests and scuffles have
not deterred one man from planned participation in
Wednesday's torch run along San Francisco's waterfront,
the only North American leg of the relay.
"My friends are joking that since I'm 6-foot-3, I'm
the big target," said Mark Henderson, 38, of Oakland, a
swimmer who won gold and set an Olympic and world record
in the 400-meter relay at the 1996 games in Atlanta. "I
guess I'll be ducking and dodging."
On a more serious note, Henderson — whose wife,
Tamara, and 9-month-old daughter, Brooke, will be there
Wednesday to cheer him on — said his "purpose and
passion" for participating in the torch run is pushing
aside any fears he might have.
"I'm doing it for the athletes that don't have a
voice," he said, referring to Paralympic athletes who
are not as well known and other world-class athletes who
never made it to the Olympics.
As chairman of the Athletes Advisory Council for the
U.S. Olympic Committee, Henderson said he's more worried
that young athletes will be induced to wear T-shirts or
other attire that is deemed offensive by the Chinese
government and will not be allowed to participate in the
games, or worse. He said human rights groups are
athletes to participate in protests in some form or
Protests have met the Olympic torch and preceded its
scheduled arrival in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Police Department has expressed
mounting concern about its ability to provide safe
passage for the Olympic torch relay after swarms of
activists protesting China's human rights record shut
down the event in Paris on Monday, forcing officials to
snuff out the iconic flame repeatedly.
Traditionally a celebratory show that whets the
appetite for the Olympics, the torch relay this year has
turned into a rolling — and intensifying — confrontation
over the Chinese government's religious and political
persecution. The superpower's recent actions in Tibet
have been a particular focus.
Authorities in San Francisco said they had closely
watched events in London on
Sunday and in Paris.
We have a lot of concerns," said Sgt. Neville Gittens,
a San Francisco police spokesman. "I don't want to
identify them, but this is not a contained route
security-wise, and there are lots of opportunities for
trouble. We're watching what's going on very closely and
will make changes to our plans as we figure them out."
Mayor Gavin Newsom on Monday met with Chinese
officials in San Francisco to review security measures,
which include requiring all rank-and-file police
officers to report to work Wednesday. Meanwhile, at
least two neighboring police departments have been asked
to provide reinforcements, the California Highway Patrol
will be on hand, and the FBI is on standby, officials
According to wire services, 2,000 London security
officers were assigned Sunday to protect the torch
relay, which was marred by 30 arrests and efforts to
douse the flame with a fire extinguisher.
In San Francisco, the Federal Aviation Administration
issued a news release announcing it was restricting
access to air space below 3,000 feet along the torch
route from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. The ban on private
aircraft does not extend to Med-Evac and other emergency
flights in contact with air traffic controllers.
"We're doing this to help ensure the safe operation
of the high number of law enforcement helicopters that
will be flying in limited airspace above the relay
course," wrote Ian Gregor, communications manager of the
FAA Western-Pacific Region.
Seven people were detained Monday on the Golden Gate
Bridge, including three climbers who scaled the support
cables and unfurled banners saying "Free Tibet 08" and
"One World One Dream. Free Tibet." The climbers were
members of Berkeley-based Students for a Free Tibet, the
same group which unfurled a large banner over the side
of the Great Wall in China in August.
The spectacle brought traffic to a near standstill.
Mary Currie, spokesperson for the Golden Gate Bridge
Highway and Transportation District, said the climbers
will likely be charged with criminal trespassing.
Louise and Jon McKay were visiting San Francisco from
Edinburgh, Scotland, to celebrate their wedding
anniversary when they were caught up in the mess. They
had plann-ed to cycle across the bridge, but the
sidewalks were closed.
"The protesters probably have a point, but don't ruin
my holiday," Jon McKay said.
But T.C. Tethong, a Tibetan who traveled from his
home in Canada to see the protests, was glad of it.
"The campaign against the Olympics in China is
encouraging," he said. "The situation in China and Tibet
is heavily suppressed."
Two-time Olympic pentathlete Marilyn King, 58, of
Oakland, said she would not let the protesters deter her
from realizing her goal of carrying the torch. She is an
educator who teaches youngsters the Olympic athlete
method of envisioning and realizing their dreams. And
she would never dream of giving up.
"Of course we would all be foolish not to have some
anxiety, but I do not have fear," she said. "I might get
jostled, I might get knocked down, but I don't have any
considerations about not participating."
King said she's a peace activist, but she is looking
forward to talking about something other than protests.
"I believe we should shine a light on things that are
not right in the world," she said, "but they need to
(shift) from awareness ... to what can they do now,"
such as economic boycotts.
Correspondents Jenna Loceff and Sean Maher and the
Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.
Monday’s human rights protest on the Golden Gate
Bridge presaging a planned Olympic torch relay in San
Francisco this week raises new questions about how
safe the bridge is from potential terrorism.
Three members of Students for a Free Tibet climbed the
Golden Gate Bridge Monday morning in what they called
a peaceful protest to the Tibetan stops scheduled for
the Olympic torch relay. The Olympics is in China
later this summer.
Two men and one woman, all from Northern California,
began climbing the bridge around 10:30 a.m. and
remained on the cables above the slow moving traffic
until about 2 p.m., according to California Highway
They wore helmets and climbing gear, scaling beams to
erect two banners, “One World, One Dream: Free Tibet”
and “Free Tibet 08” and Tibetan flags.
“It’s a little bit scary, there’s no question about
it,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Mike Kerns, who
serves on the bridge district board of directors. “It
certainly deserves some attention. Was this a break
down in security or an unavoidable incident?”
Kerns said bridge security has generally improved
since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and
Washington, D.C. But he called for an evaluation of
procedures that could have prevented people from
scaling the bridge in broad daylight.
After climbing down the trio was arrested for
trespassing by CHP officers.
It was the first time in more than a decade someone
scaled the bridge, said CHP Officer Javier Rocha.
Actor Woody Harrelson and eight other protestors were
arrested in 1996 after they climbed the cables,
unfurling banners to demand protection for ancient
redwood groves in Northern California.
CHP spokesman Michael Davis said bridge security and
two CHP officers in cars patrol the bridge at all
times. But it is difficult to anticipate such an
incident because “these were normal people walking
across bridge with backpacks,” he said.
Strict preventive measures including prohibiting foot
and bike traffic on the popular tourist destination
would be unlikely, he said.
Protest followed the torch relay from London this past
weekend to Paris Monday, forcing police to extinguish
the torch and cancel the last section of the relay.
The torch will be arriving in San Francisco 4 p.m.
Tuesday and the torch procession is scheduled for
Wednesday, its only American stop on a month-long
Alma David, 29, a local spokeswoman for Students for a
Free Tibet, said the climbers were prepared for
“That’s the kind of sacrifice that they’re willing to
make,” she said. “If people in Tibet can’t even stand
up and show their national flag, they feel since they
live in country with a lot more rights, it is their
duty to speak up for the Tibetans.”
The student group was founded in New York City in 1994
to push for human rights and independence in Tibet on
campuses and during events like Tibetan Freedom
Concerts. The group is protesting the torch’s
scheduled stops in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and
the summit of Mount Everest, scheduled during its
six-week 46-stop tour of China.
Tibet was an independent country until China invaded
it in 1949. It has since been under Chinese rule.
Recent anti-Chinese protests in Lhasa in mid-March
that have spread quickly across Tibetan communities in
western China have received international attention.
Senator Hillary Clinton today urged President Bush to
boycott the Olympic opening ceremonies in Bejing,
saying in a statement posted on her web site that the
Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human
rights in its policy toward China.
“The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the
Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan
to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for
presidential leadership,” she said.
Susan Lamont, President of the Peace and Justice
Center of Sonoma County, said she was “totally
conflicted” about the idea of boycotting the Olympics
entirely, but supports the current protests against
China in Europe.
“I think the more visible you can make human rights
violations the better,” Lamont said.
By Amy Hollyfield
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO
-- The Olympic torch has touched down in the Bay Area. It
arrived at San Francisco International Airport under a cloud of
controversy and the watch of some 500 police officers.
No protesters showed up at the airport to greet the torch this
morning. The torch received VIP treatment - airport officials
treated it as a visit from a head of state. It was greeted by city
leaders and Olympians and it was escorted by about 200 people on the
flight from Paris.
The torch stayed lit in its lantern during the flight and it
was surrounded by police officers at the airport - they were
everywhere. But they had nothing to do; there was not a single
protester who showed up for its arrival. It arrived at about 3:40 am
this morning, airport officials said the early morning arrival made
Although everyone is hoping for a peaceful visit to San
Francisco - people are getting nervous. One of the 40 people
scheduled to carry the torch has dropped out, 14-year-old
Jaclyn Kimball decided it just wasn't worth the risk.
"I understand anyone that might feel that they don't want
to expose themselves to something more then protests, so we do
know of one person so far," said David Perry, SF torch relay
Protests in San Francisco started yesterday when three
people climbed the Golden Gate Bridge and tied two banners to
its cables. The protesters say they wanted to take advantage
of the international spotlight to get their message out in
support of Tibetan independence.
The final leg of the torch route in Paris had to be
canceled yesterday because of violent protests. China has
condemned the protests as despicable and the Olympic committee
is talking about canceling the international leg of the
torches journey. But that discussion won't happen until the
end of this week, so the relay leg in San Francisco will still
Leaders in Chinatown say that some of the residents are
very hurt and disappointed by all of the protests. But they as
well as all local leaders are hoping that the protests in San
Francisco will be peaceful, that people won't take their
political feelings out on those who are simply carrying the torch through the city.
Lord Coe of England - blasts 'horrible Chinese thugs' who
barged their way through London as IOC considers scrapping the relay
By SAM GREENHILL, GWYNETH REES and PETER
ALLEN - Last updated at 14:23pm on 8th
Lord Coe last night condemned the army of Chinese "thugs" who
accompanied the Olympic torch relay through London.
The head of London's 2012 Games described as "horrible" the burly
henchmen who barged their way through the capital, shoving the
public and even police out of the way.
His trenchant remarks followed those of former Blue Peter
presenter and torchbearer Konnie Huq, who revealed the Chinese
minders barked orders at her and pushed her arm up to hold the flame
Sunday's scenes, which were repeated in France yesterday, brought
accusations that Britain had imported Chinese police state tactics
to control the supposedly showcase relay.
Lord Coe made his remarks during a conference phone call, which
unknown to him, was being recorded by a Channel 4 reporter who had
been put through accidentally.
Referring to the Chinese security guards, who were in France
yesterday with the torch on the next leg of its world tour, he said:
"One thing in Paris is to get rid of those guys. They tried to push
me out of the way three times. They are horrible. They did not speak
English. They were thugs."
Wearing blue tracksuits, the 14 minders surrounded the symbolic
flame, pushing anyone who tried to get near, as it was relayed 31
miles across London.
Struggle: A protester tries to grab the torch from former
Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq
Miss Huq, one of 80 torchbearers said: "The men in blue
perplexed everyone. Nobody seemed to know who they were
officially or what their title was. They were very robotic,
very full on, and I noticed them having skirmishes with our
own police and the Olympic authorities before our leg of the
relay, which was confusing.
"They were barking orders at me, like 'Run! Stop!' and I
was like, 'Oh my gosh, who are these people?'
"They kept pushing my hand up higher when I was holding the
torch, so they were...interesting."
Miss Huq was nearly knocked to the ground by a protester as
thousands of campaigners disrupted the procession to
demonstrate against China's human rights abuses and brutality
It was reported the men have been recruited from Chinese
special forces brigades. Some came from the feared Flying
Dragons and the Sword of Flying Dragons counter-terror units.
The International Olympic Committee is considering whether
to scrap the international leg of the Beijing torch relay
after intense protests in London and Paris.
IOC president Jacques Rogge admitted the issue will be
discussed by the organization's executive board on Friday.
Mr Rogge said he was "deeply saddened" by the violent
protests and expressed concern about the torch relay in San
He added:"This is something that obviously has to be
discussed by the executive board."
Asked whether the continuation of the international relay
was certain, he said: "I'm not saying whether it is certain or
"There will be a discussion of the executive board on the
torch relay but I attach on that absolutely no speculation
Yesterday, there was still mystery over the Chinese minders.
Matt Whitticase, of the Free Tibet Campaign, said: "Who
authorised them? They should have no jurisdiction on the
streets of Britain.
"It is a very creepy snapshot of Chinese security coming to
London. The whole thing reminded people of what policing is
like in China."
The Greater London Authority, which coorganised the event,
said: "They were brought over by the Beijing organising
committee. They were the responsibility of Beijing."
A spokesman insisted it was the British Olympic Association
which was responsible for dealing with the Chinese.
But the BOA's spokesman said: "They were nothing to do with
us. The relationship they had with the Met and the GLA was the
responsibility of the GLA."
The Met Police said the Chinese guards had "no executive
powers" in Britain and were simply there to protect the torch.
Privately, police were said to be furious as officers were
made to look ridiculous, jogging along in cycle helmets and
holding hands to form a chain around the bearers.
MPs said the fiasco made Britain a laughing stock. But
Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said: "I don't think it made us
look bad. The police did the best job they could."
Yesterday the mayhem continued in Paris. Security officials
extinguished the torch four times before putting it in a bus
for the final stages.
Secure: Police on roller blades and
firemen in tracksuits surround the torch in Paris
Snuffed out: French tennis player Arnaud Di Pasquale carries
an extinguished Olympic torch
In San Francisco, pro-Tibet
campaigners scaled the Golden Gate Bridge to unfurl
The Olympic torch was extinguished four times today before
a relay through Paris was abruptly aborted by Chinese
The round-the-world tour descended into French farce the
day after extraordinary scenes in London.
In Britain protestors tried to put out the legendary flame
with Chinese "heavies" keeping them at bay, but in Paris it
was police who snuffed out the flame four times for "security
reasons" - once because a group of demonstrators began booing.
A police spokesman said: "We had no choice. There were so
many protestors threatening a public disturbance that it was
no longer practical to keep it on a public road."
Chinese organisers finally decided to pull the plug on the
public relations disaster two miles from the end of what was
supposed to be an 18-mile route, bundling the torch onto a bus
outside the National Assembly to be driven to a sports
The propane-fuelled flame is a crucial symbol of the
history of the Olympics and is traditionally kept alight until
the closing ceremony of the Games.
Campaigners for independence for Tibet were protesting
against human rights violations by the Chinese, claiming
Beijing was unfit to stage this summer's Olympics.
There were at least ten arrests after thousands of
demonstrators poured into Paris.
And the first incident came minutes after the relay began
at the Eiffel Tower when a Paris city councillor lunged at
gold-medal winning torchbearer Stephane Diagana.
Green Party member Sylvain Garel shouted �Freedom for the
Chinese� as he attempted to grab the torch from the former
The next disturbance happened barely 200 yards along the
Left Bank of the Seine, with the torch put out and placed
aboard a bus.
What appeared to be a panic decision was clearly an
embarrassment to the French authorities who had put 3,000
police onto the streets, with 20 riot police vans and more
officers on motorbikes and even rollerblades accompanying the
From then on, the procession advanced painfully slowly,
stopping and starting as police checked for security risks.
The flame was reignited and then put out a further three
At least two activists got within almost an arm's length of
the flame before they were grabbed by police, and one
protestor got close enough to throw water at the torch.
Less than an hour after the flame left the Eiffel Tower,
it was being carried out of a traffic tunnel by a woman
athlete in a wheelchair when the procession was halted by
activists who booed and chanted �Free Tibet.�
Once again, the torch was extinguished and put on a bus.
The third time, security officials apparently
interrupted the procession because they spotted demonstrators
After the torch was put back on the bus, protesters
threw rotten eggs, plastic bottles, cups and pieces of bread
at the vehicle and at a male wheelchair-bound athlete.
The torch disappeared back inside the bus a fourth time
shortly after a protester approached it with a fire
extinguisher near the Louvre art museum.
Police grabbed the demonstrator before he could start to
Security high for torch's US arrival
By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 8, 3:59 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO - The Olympic torch arrived for its only
North American stop amid heavy security Tuesday, a day after
its visit to Paris descended into chaos and activists here
Golden Gate Bridge to protest
China's human rights record.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge
said the body's executive board would discuss Friday whether
to end the international leg of the
Olympic torch relay because of widespread protests.
The torch's global journey was supposed to highlight
China's growing economic and political power. But activists
opposing China's human rights policies and a recent crackdown
on Tibet have been protesting along the torch's 85,000-mile
route since the start of the flame's odyssey from Ancient
Greece to Beijing, host of the
2008 Summer Olympics.
Rogge told The Associated Press he was "deeply saddened"
by violent protests in
London and Paris and concerned about Wednesday's
six-mile relay in
San Francisco, where activists expressed fears that the
torch's planned route through
Tibet would lead to arrests and violent measures by
Chinese officials trying to stifle dissent.
The flame arrived in San Francisco shortly before 4 a.m.
and was immediately put in a vehicle to be whisked away to a
secret location, San Francisco Olympic Torch Relay Committee
spokesman David Perry said. Security was heightened because
several protests were planned before the relay.
"We treated it like a head of state visit," airport
spokesman Mike McCarron said.
No protesters greeted the flame at the airport, but
hours later hundreds gathered in United Nations Plaza, a
pedestrian area near City Hall, to call on China to cease its
heavy-handed rule of Tibet. They also expressed fears that the
torch's planned route through Tibet would lead to arrests and
violent measures by Chinese officials trying to stifle
"All the bloodshed in Tibet, they don't need the torch
there to cause more bloodshed. We're here because we want
George Bush and other world leaders to pay attention to
what is going on inside Tibet," said Ngawang Norbu, a
The demonstrators planned to march to the Chinese
Consulate as part of a daylong Tibetan Torch Relay that will
end with a peace vigil.
Actor Richard Gere and human rights activist
Desmond Tutu are expected to be among the speakers.
Leaders of China's expatriate community in San Francisco
held a news conference a few miles away in Chinatown, calling
for a peaceful Olympic torch relay. They said they were proud
China, a country with a long and vibrant culture, was selected
to host the summer games and were saddened by the anger
accompanying the torch.
"We are begging for five hours of peace," said Sam Ng,
president of the Chinese Six Companies, a prominent benevolent
Hundreds of Chinese students from
Stanford University also planned to board buses for San
Francisco early Wednesday to attend the torch relay to show
Already, one runner who planned to carry the flame
during the San Francisco relay dropped out because of safety
concerns, Perry said. The person was not identified.
"The first and foremost concern is security," Perry
said. "Security for those who will carry the torch and
security for those who, of course, are also exercising their
First Amendment right to protest."
There have been rallies, vigils and news conference
related to the relay almost daily for the past several weeks.
Security was tightened on the
Golden Gate Bridge on Tuesday, a day after three
protesters scaled the famed span and tied the Tibetan flag and
two banners to its cables. Pedestrians and bike riders now
must have any large bags checked before they are allowed to
cross the bridge.
Olympic organizers canceled the final leg of the Paris
run Monday after demonstrators scaled the
Eiffel Tower, grabbed for the flame and forced security
officials to repeatedly snuff out the torch and transport it
by bus. China condemned the protests as "despicable" but vowed
to continue the relay to the end.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters Tuesday
it was sad spectacle, but that protests are normal in a
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, a longtime human
rights activist turned diplomat, said he understood the
protesters, but said that
France's goal of new talks between China and
Tibetan leaders was dealt a setback.
"Yesterday, the answer moved farther away," Kouchner
told reporters at a news conference. "Our answer — and we
French do what we can — is a resumption of dialogue between
the Chinese and the
San Francisco officials said they were developing a
plan that strikes a balance between protesters' rights to
express their views and the city's ability to host a safe
U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth said in
a statement the event was "an important moment for the city to
show its character, hospitality and commitment to peace and
"It must provide a proper forum for the peaceful
expression of opinions and dissent. And it must safely and
respectfully welcome the flame and honor the U.S. athletes and
other participants who will carry the torch," Ueberroth said.
Mayor Gavin Newsom and the police department said they
reserved the right to adjust the flame's route, slated to run
San Francisco Bay, if necessary, but a spokesman
dismissed rumors the relay would be canceled. The air space
above the city will be restricted during the relay, a federal
aviation spokesman said.
San Francisco was chosen to host the relay in part
because of its large Asian population.
David Lee, executive director of the Chinese American
Voters Education Committee and a professor of political
San Francisco State University, said while many Chinese
agree with critics of China, on the whole, Chinese-Americans
feel a tremendous sense of pride that the
Beijing Olympics chose San Francisco as the only relay
After San Francisco, the torch is scheduled to travel to
Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then to a dozen other
countries. It is scheduled to enter mainland China on May 4
for the host country's portion of the relay.
Associated Press writer
John Marshall contributed to this report.
Olympic torch rerouted for US relay 4-9-08
SAN FRANCISCO - The Olympic torch was rerouted away
from thousands of demonstrators and spectators who crowded the
San Francisco waterfront to witness the flame's symbolic journey to
The first torchbearer took the flame from a lantern brought
to the stage and held it aloft before running into a
warehouse. A motorcycle escort departed, but the torchbearer
was nowhere in sight.
Then officials drove the
Olympic torch about a mile inland and handed it off to two
runners away from protesters and media.
Less than an hour before the relay began Wednesday,
officials cut the original six-mile route nearly in half. The
flame's only North American stop has drawn thousands of
demonstrators gathered to praise and condemn
China during the flame's journey to
S.F. torch runner ducks into warehouse
Published: April 9, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO, (UPI) --
Thousands of protesters -- pro-Tibet and pro-China --
lined San Francisco streets Wednesday as an Olympic
torch-bearer took off, ducking into a warehouse.
Police officers abandoned the portion of the route between
McCovey Cove, the relay's starting point, prompting
speculation the torch would be moved by boat along a route
that may have changed, CNN reported. Police watercraft
were outside the warehouse.
A convoy of police vehicles later emerged from the
warehouse, fueling speculation the torch, torch-bearers
and security personnel were being taken to another
location. Runners eventually picked up the relay at
another area along the route
Extra law enforcement officials turned out and the route
was shortened for a second time because of security
concerns, CNN reported. Thousands of demonstrators showed
up at the relay's lone North American stop to protest
China's record on human rights and its military crackdown
in Tibet. However, the city's Chinese community also
turned out, as did a group of pro-Olympic university
Jian Gong, a University of California-Berkeley student,
said he traveled to San Francisco to safeguard the torch
relay against the interruption that occurred in Paris and
London, The New York Times reported.
Protesters disrupted relays in London and Paris, prompting
the Parisian leg to be canceled about halfway.
Tibetan supporter, right, argues with a
Chinese supporter at a rally
for China's Olympic torch at the Ferry
Plaza in San Francisco,
Wednesday, April 9, 2008.
By JULIANA BARBASSAand MARCUS
WOHLSEN, Associated Press Writers
SAN FRANCISCO - Officials say the
planned closing ceremony for the Olympic
torch at the San Francisco Bay waterfront is
canceled and another one will take place at
an undisclosed location.
ceremony had been slated to take place
Justin Herman Plaza, where thousands
had gathered to support and protest the
Beijing-bound flame's visit to the
Just before the relay began,
the torch was rerouted about a mile away
from the demonstrators and spectators.
Officials say they changed the path because
of security concerns.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
tells The Associated Press that a closing
ceremony will still take place, but he would
not specify where.
100 march to protest China's hosting of Olympic Games in Chicago
By Robert Mitchum |
4:00 PM CDT, April 9, 2008
Jampa Khedup said there is absolutely no way he
will be able to watch the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer.
"It will only remind me of people being killed, people being
tortured [in Tibet], people suffering behind the scenes," said
Khedup, 41, from Madison, Wis., as he stood outside the Chinese
consulate in Chicago Wednesday afternoon. "It's just a lie."
Khedup was one of around a 100 protesters who marched down North
Michigan Avenue on Wednesday, shouting pro-Tibet slogans in a
smaller version of the protests expected for the running of the
Olympic torch in San Francisco Wednesday. The protest was the
fifth Chicago rally in the last month against the Chinese
occupation of Tibet, said Tenzin Youdon, president of Free Tibet
The protesters, a majority of whom were of Tibetan descent, gathered
Water Tower around noon for a rally that included monks from the Deer
Park Buddhist Center in Oregon, Wis., reciting "Words of Truth," a Tibetan
hymn written by the
The group then marched south on
Michigan Avenue, waving Tibetan flags and carrying
signs that portrayed the Olympic rings as handcuffs
and barbed wire, equated the 2008 Beijing Games with
the 1936 games in Nazi-governed Berlin and showed
victims of alleged Chinese torture. Many signs played
off the Olympic torch as a potent symbol of human
rights and freedom.
"The torch is a symbol of peace, love, humanity and
friendship," Khedup said. "None of these are currently
present in Tibet. Why are they faking it?"
Others, like Dawa Dolma, 55, of Madison, said that
China should have never been awarded the Olympic
"The Olympics mean friendship and freedom," Dolma
said. "China is the opposite of all of that. They
should not give the Olympics to them."
International Olympic Committee President Jacques
Rogge said the body's executive board would discuss
Friday whether to end the remaining international legs
of the relay after San Francisco because of widespread
protest. The torch is scheduled to travel to Buenos
Aires and then to a dozen other countries before
arriving in China on May 4. The Olympics begin Aug. 8.
"We recognize the right for people to protest and
express their views, but it should be nonviolent. We
are very sad for all the athletes and the people who
expected so much from the run and have been spoiled of
their joy," Rogge said.
Published: April 8, 2008
BEIJING, April 8 (UPI)The
International Olympic Committee said it may end the
international leg of the Beijing Olympic torch run due to
protests against China's crackdown in Tibet.
IOC President Jacques Rogge said the organization's
executive board will meet Friday to debate whether to
allow the torch to continue its 85,000-mile, 21-country
journey in the face of protests against China's human
rights record and involvement in Tibet, The Times of
Rogge said Tuesday said violent protests in London and
Paris "deeply saddened" him, and he expressed concerns
about Wednesday's torch relay in San Francisco, where
protesters already unfurled banners supporting Tibet on
the Golden Gate Bridge.
The IOC is conducting its last official meetings in
Beijing this week with organizers of the games.
Gunilla Lindberg, an IOC member from Sweden, said that the
protests greeting the torch relay were "damaging the
"Using the torch this way is almost a crime," Lindberg
said. "This is the property of the IOC. It is not a
If the IOC votes to cancel the remainder of the
international torch relay, the torch likely would go
directly to China, the British newspaper said.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - On the only
day in which runners carried the Olympic
torch across an American city in 2008,
Chinese-Americans and protesters started
with sharp divisions over the so-called
"Journey of Harmony."
By day's end, city and Olympic
officials had achieved a harmony between the
divergent groups few had predicted --
everyone seemed angry and disappointed the
route was radically changed without notice.
"I feel tricked," said onlooker Terry
Costales, 61, of San Francisco. "I feel the
mayor tricked the city. ... I've been down
here for hours. The torch bearers should
have their moment in the sun and now they
are sneaking around."
On a beautiful sunny spring day,
thousands gathered along the city's scenic
waterfront, stretching from its baseball
stadium to the Fisherman's Wharf district
favored by tourists.
Early on, Chinese-Americans reacted
angrily as one man came through with a
Tibetan flag, resulting in a scuffle until
the man was put into a taxi and left the
At another point of the waterfront,
Iren Wei, a Chinese immigrant living in
Oakland, said through a megaphone: "Tibet is
Chinese, belongs to China!"
Tibet supporters passed a group of
Chinese immigrants waiting for the torch run
to start and yelled: "Shame on Chinese
government!" "Shame on China!"
A supporter of China with a megaphone
yelled back: "We love China!"
Some non-Chinese Tibet activists spoke
in Mandarin to show off their knowledge of
the language and culture. Native Mandarin
speakers angrily responded back in accented
English to reject the criticism of China.
WAR OF WORDS
The arguments lasted for hours. "Tibet
is part of China like California is part of
the United States," said Wei Ye, an
immigrant who arrived two years ago.
"They are very aggressive. They were
in our face," Scott Bennett, 54, a Buddhist
from San Mateo, California, who was carrying
a Tibetan flag on a pole.
Some took the war of words to the sky,
with small aircraft flying banners. One read
"Free Burma," and at least two others had
pro China messages, including "Tibet will
always be part of China."
Protesters and supporters alike
eventually became confused when the torch
did not appear along the planned route.
Instead, the Olympic flame ended going up
Van Ness Avenue, a major thoroughfare of car
dealerships, hotels and sometimes drab
architecture miles from the waterfront
Mayor Gavin Newsom told Reuters the
last-minute change was vital to assure
public safety. China supporters and critics
alike were disappointed.
"It think it was a wimpy decision,"
said Katherine York, 46, of San Francisco.
"This is the only spot in North America
where the torch was going to stop, and no
one got to see it except maybe someone by
accident who was walking their dog."
Published: April 8, 2008
BEIJING, April 8 (UPI) China
Tuesday condemned the "despicable" Tibetan protests
against the Beijing Olympics as the global relay of its
torch through London and Paris caused chaos.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu blamed the
weekend torch relay disruptions on "Tibet independence
"Their despicable activities tarnish the lofty Olympic
spirit and challenge all the people loving the Olympic
Games around the world," Xinhua quoted Jiang as saying.
The Independent reported the protests by Tibetan
supporters and human rights activities turned the 17-mile
long relay in Paris into a farce. The British newspaper
said the torch itself was put out at least four times,
leading to the cancellation of the final part of the
Xinhua, however, reported Jiang as saying the "modes of
the relay in Paris were temporarily changed to safeguard
the security and dignity of the Olympic torch under the
As China sought to control the damage to its public image,
the United States prepared for the torch's arrival
Wednesday in San Francisco, the only North American city
on the global relay.
UK's Brown won't attend Olympics opening
By BRYAN MITCHELL, Associated Press Writer
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will skip
the opening ceremony of the
Beijing Olympics. He became the second major world leader after
German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stay away
from the opening ceremonies, although Brown's office
insisted Wednesday that he was not boycotting the
Olympics and would attend the closing ceremony.
President Bush would go to the opening portion
of the Olympics,
White House press secretary
Dana Perino demurred, citing the fluid nature
of a foreign trip.
"It is extremely premature for me to say what
the president's schedule is going to be" in August,
Democratic presidential candidate
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and others have
urged Bush to consider staying away from the opening
ceremony as a way to underscore U.S. concerns about
the recent unrest in Tibet and questions about
China's relationship with
Brown, too, has been under intense pressure from
human rights campaigners to send a message to China.
But his decision not to attend the opening ceremony is
not an act of protest, a spokeswoman for his office
said, speaking anonymously in line with government
She said the decision was made weeks ago and was
not a stand on principle.
"He had never planned to attend," she said.
"There is absolutely no change in our position."
International Olympic Committee President
Jacques Rogge said in February that he expected many
heads of state — including Bush, Merkel and
French President Nicolas Sarkozy — to attend
the opening ceremony.
Hollywood director Steven Spielberg withdrew in
February as an artistic adviser to the opening and
closing ceremonies, saying China had not done enough
to halt the bloodshed in Sudan's
Darfur region. China buys much of Sudan's oil
and supplies many of the weapons used in the Darfur
The leader of Britain's
Liberal Democrat party, Nick Clegg, told
British Broadcasting Corp. that Brown "seems to
do the right thing late in the day when he is forced
to do so because of public opinion."
London is hosting the next
Olympics in 2012 and British officials were
expected to be prominent at events throughout the
games in China.
Unmasked: Chinese guardians of Olympic
The guards protecting
the Olympic flame had paramilitary training and were
chosen by Beijing for their toughness and fitness
in Beijing and Richard Ford
China’s blue-clad flame attendants,
whose aggressive methods of safeguarding
the Olympic torch have provoked
international outcry, are paramilitary
police from a force spun off from the
The squad of 30 young men from the
police academy that turns out the cream of
the paramilitary security force has the
job at home of ensuring riot control,
domestic stability and the protection of
Questions are now being asked as to
who authorised their presence as the torch
was carried through London. The
Conservatives demanded clarification from
the Government last night.
The guards’ task for the torch relay
is to ensure the flame is never
extinguished – although it was put out
three times in Paris – and now
increasingly to prevent protesters
demonstrating against Chinese rule in
Tibet from interfering with it.
But the aggression with which the
guards have been pursuing their brief has
provoked anger, not least in London where
they were seen wrestling protesters to the
ground and were described as “thugs” by
The Olympic medallist and organiser
of the 2012 Games was overheard saying
that the officials had pushed him around
as the torch made its way through the
capital on Sunday. He added that other
countries on the route should “get rid of
“They tried to punch me out of the
way three times. They are horrible. They
did not speak English . . . I think they
His comments came after Konnie Huq,
the former Blue Peter presenter, who was
one of the torchbearers on Sunday,
described how she had seen the officials
in “skirmishes” with the police.
Ms Huq, who was carrying the torch
when a pro-Tibet activist tried to snatch
the flame, said of the guards: “They were
very robotic, full-on . . . They were
barking orders like ‘run’ and ‘stop’ and I
was like, ‘Who are these people?’.”
David Davis, the Shadow Home
Secretary, wrote yesterday to Jacqui
Smith, the Home Secretary, seeking
clarification of the role of the Chinese
officials. Mr Davis asked: “Who in the
British Government authorised their
presence and what checks were made as to
He added: “They appear to have some
role in providing security and were seen
manhandling protesters. They even
accompanied the torch into Downing Street
and were highly visible in the picture
with the Prime Minister.”
The security men entered Britain on
visitors’ visas but the Home Office would
not reveal whether they had disclosed on
the application form for whom they worked.
Less than a year ago these
mysterious “men in blue” were elite
students from China’s Armed Police Academy
and were selected amid great fanfare to
form the grandly titled Sacred Flame
In China, tens of thousands of their
paramilitary colleagues have been deployed
across Tibetan areas to restore order
during riots, even opening fire when the
antiChinese demonstrations have threatened
to run out of control again.
It is a long way from those heady
days last August when the squad was
founded. Zhao Si, their leader, said then:
“These men, chosen from around the
country, are each tall and large and are
eminently talented and powerful.” Online
reports said that the shortest of them was
Mr Zhao said: “Their outstanding
physical quality is not in the slightest
inferior to that of specialised athletes.”
Their training has involved running 40 to
50 kilometres (25 to 31 miles) a day to
ensure the squad is fit enough to keep
pace with a relay of torchbearers in
cities around the world.
They have also undergone training in
local customs and languages of the
countries in which they would be deployed.
This has included learning some English,
French, German, Spanish and Japanese.
A total of 30 men have been assigned
to follow the torch overseas. Another 40
will be on duty to trail the Olympic flame
around China until it reaches Beijing on
August 6, just two days before the start
of the Games.
In reports published before the
young men became the focus of
international attention, Chinese media
emphasised their ability to ensure that
the flame would stay alight. “They
received firstly technical training in how
to light the first torch of each session
of the relay and save the flame in the
lantern at the end of each relay in a more
efficient and safe way.”
Yang Zhaoke, director of the Beijing
organising committee torch centre, told
The Times: “We chose young and
vigorous men. They can’t be beansprouts
because they have to show good endurance.
We can’t change people once they are
overseas. They have to be able to run from
start to finish.”
Some train in such martial arts as
taekwondo or tijiquan in their spare time,
he said, but added: “Their job is not to
fight but to shelter and protect. They are
not there to beat people and they have no
right to enforce the law. Only the British
police have that right in London, for
A source at Scotland Yard said:
“They were here because they came as a
part of the package. We made it quite
clear that they had no executive powers in
“They were here to maintain the
flame. Their responsibility is to look
after the flame and to make sure nothing
happens to it. They are there to protect
Timetable of protest
Planned torch relay route
9 San Francisco
11 Buenos Aires
13 Dar es Salaam
21 Kuala Lumpur
29 Ho Chi Minh City
2 Hong Kong
3 Macao 4Begins tour of China
Early to mid-May
Everest (date determined by weather)
6-8 Arrives in Beijing
Source: Beijing 2008
Kidnap Plot uncovered in China
By STAFF REPORTER
CHINA says it has
uncovered a criminal ring planning to kidnap athletes and others
at the Beijing Olympic Games.
The Chinese Ministry's of Public Security
spokesman Wu Heping told a news conference today that the ring was
based in the restive western Xinjiang region.
The ring was one of two broken up by Chinese
Wu said 35 people were arrested between
March 26 and April 6 for
plotting to kidnap athletes, foreign
journalists and other visitors to the August Olympics.
“We face a real terrorist threat,”
He said police had confiscated
almost 10 kilos of explosives and eight sticks of dynamite
and “jihadist" literature in the latest raids in Urumqi,
the capital of Xinjiang.
Wu also also said those arrested had
been manufacturing explosives and were plotting to attack
hotels, government offices and military targets in
Shanghai, Beijing and other cities.
He said the gang had been acting on
orders from a radical Islamic Xinjiang independence group,
East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
Western embassies asked Beijing for
more information after authorities said they had broken up
an attempt to hijack a plane in western China last month
but so far no evidence has been provided, diplomats have
Olympic torch has arrived in
Argentina, where more protests are planned
April 10, 2008, 4:45 PM ET
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- The Olympic torch has
arrived in Buenos Aires after a flight from San
Government sports official Francisco
Irarrazabal says a jetliner carrying the torch has
touched down at the main international airport in the
Organizers of Friday's relay through Buenos Aires
say police motorcycles will escort the torch to a secure
location, along with a "safety lantern" carrying the
Nearly 6,000 police and other guards will protect
the torch route on Friday. Anti-China groups say their
protests will be peaceful, but they also say they have
some "surprises" planned.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news
Protests Meet Olympic Torch in Argentina
Demonstrators carry what they called
the 'Human rights torch' in Buenos Aires, Friday, April 11,
2008 during a protest demanding to stop the persecution of
spiritual group Falung Gong followers in China. Protesters
marched across the same route that the Olympic Torch will
tour later Friday through Buenos Aires. (AP Photo/Gabriel
By BILL CORMIER –
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) —
Argentine runners relayed the Olympic torch past
on Friday, as hundreds of China supporters in red
windbreakers tried to reverse weeks of bad publicity for the
host of the Summer Games.
Activists opposing China's human rights record
unfurled banners and promised "entertaining surprises" but
pledged to keep their demonstrations peaceful after protests
marred stops in London, Paris and San Francisco.
Hundreds of spectators cheered as Chinese delegates
wearing Argentina's blue-and-white lit the torch from a
lantern that has carried the flame from the site of the
ancient Olympic games in Greece.
Mayor Mauricio Macri held the slender aluminum torch
aloft, then passed it to three-time Olympic windsurfing
medalist Carlos Espinola, who jogged into Buenos Aires
streets flanked by Chinese bodyguards. Heavyset police from
Argentina's navy huffed to keep up.
A sea of about 500 China supporters in red
windbreakers handed out by organizers waved banners and
denounced what they called political interference in the
"We are here to celebrate Olympics!" said Shao Long
Chen, a 19-year-old Chinese immigrant. "It's a great source
of pride for us that the Olympics are being held in Beijing
and that the torch is passing through Buenos Aires."
As for the pro-Tibet protesters nearby, he said:
"They're using sports to deliver a political message, and
that's not right."
Tanzania: Torch Keeps Protesters At Bay in Dar The Citizen
(Dar es Salaam)
14 April 2008 Posted to the web 14 April 2008
Olympic Torch winds up Dar tour without a hitch
Contrasted to the rest of the World where the
Olympic Torch has been subjected to mass protests by pro-Tibet groups,
Dar es Salaam yesterday marked the most peaceful relay of the torch that
arrived in the city late Saturday.
As a precautionary measure, the organisers had
deployed tight security to guard against any sign of protest throughout
the five-kilometre race.
Instead, the torch attracted thousands of people
who had turned up at Tazara railway station at the junction of Mandela
and Nyerere roads in Dar es Salaam escorted the torch all the way to the
newly built National Stadium singing and dancing. People chanted
"Tanzania is a peaceful country, Tanzania is a peaceful country,
Tanzania is a peaceful country," all the way to the stadium.
Regardless of race, the relay was one of typical
cosmopolitan event as locals mixed with the visitors while flapping mini
flags of Tanzania and China. Police officials took no chances as the
torch was relayed by selected leaders, officials and celebrities while a
police helicopter hovered in the air until the end of the race.
"We feel very much honoured to have welcomed the
torch peacefully. Tanzania has the brand of peace second to none
worldwide which is one of the reasons for hosting the torch," said Adam
Kimbisa, the Dar es Salaam city mayor.
The torch arrived in Dar es Salaam on Saturday
night by a special flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Initially, the
relay was planned to cover 25 kilometres but the threat of protests
forced the organisers to cut the distance to five.
United Nations' Habitat Director Anna Tibaijuka
was the last person to hold the torch on it's arrival at the National
"My fellow Tanzanians, this is a great moment to
us as we represent the whole Africa," said Tibaijuka. She said Tanzania
is proud of it's long prevailing peace and the torch's presence marked a
new milestone to strengthen the existing unity between people of
different religions, ethnic origins, political affiliations, dialects
The torch, which was lit in Olympia, Greece, on
March 25 for it's long journey to 22 cities in the five continents, was
disrupted by heavy protests in Paris, London and San Francisco.
The torch is expected in Muscat today on its way
to Pakistan, India, far East onwards to Australiasia. This is the first
time Tanzania hosted the Olympic Torch.
Pakistan changes route for Olympic torch
relay, rules out anti-China protests
The Associated Press
Published: April 14, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A Pakistani official says
the route for the Beijing Olympic torch relay has been changed.
Arif Hassan, president of Pakistan Olympic Association,
which is organizing the ceremony for hosting the relay, also
says he is confident that the anti-China protests which have
greeted the flame elsewhere in the world will not occur in
The torch is scheduled to arrive early Tuesday in the
Pakistani capital Islamabad, from Muscat in the Middle East.
Hassan said Monday that security will be tight.
China is one of Pakistan's main military and economic
IOC worried about impact of continuing Olympic
Anti-China demonstrations have disrupted the torch
relay and left athletes in disarray
Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, April 10, 2008
BEIJING -- The protests that have disrupted the
Beijing torch relay have left athletes "in disarray" and
they need to be assured that the Games will go ahead
peacefully, International Olympic Committee president
Jacques Rogge said Wednesday.
Speaking only a few hours after organizers of the
torch relay in San Francisco shortened and changed the route
in the face of massive anti-China protests, Rogge said it
was better than the violent protests in London and Paris,
but the outcome "was not the joyous party that we wished it
In what was is the first acknowledgment that the
protests that have dogged the relay since it began March 24
have begun to hurt preparations for the Beijing Games, Rogge
said the movement has only 120 days left to show that "the
Games are about generosity."
IOC president Jacques Rogge
gestures while discussing protests that disrupted Olympic
torch relays in London and Paris.
Alfred Cheng, Reuters
"When I first spoke to you on Monday morning I
reiterated the serious concerns and emotions of the
International Olympic Committee about the situation in
Tibet," he said. "We were saddened by what we saw in London
and Paris. We were sad for the athletes and the torch
bearers. We were sad for the children who watched their
athletes and heroes being booed.
"We respect protest but they must not be violent.
Athletes in many countries are in disarray and we need to
reassure them that our major responsibility is to offer them
the Games that they deserve.
"The Games are about much more than performance alone.
They are about values of universality, respect, tolerance
and friendship. They must be underpinned by the respect of
ethical values, no doping, no cheating, and the respect of
Rogge's comments were the clearest signal yet that the
IOC is deeply worried about the impact of the continuing
protests will have on the Olympic movement. But he gave no
hint at whether he is considering asking the torch relay
organizers to cut short the rest of the 21-country
international leg of the tour.
Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Rudge said the
values of the Olympic movement have been set back by the
cat-and-mouse chase that unfolded in San Francisco.
Like many Olympic officials in Beijing who rose in the
early hours Wednesday to watch the outcome of the relay
stop, Rudge said he was deeply disturbed by the images of
overwhelming police presence that surrounded the torch
during a sharply curtained visit.
"If we believe that the Olympic movement can be a
force for good, it is not going to be that if we bury its
light under a bushel basket," he said. "What hit me most was
the profound sense of sadness and disappointment that an
event and a symbol that should mean so much about what
Olympic values are about deteriorated to a bit of a
cat-and-mouse game so that no one was really able to
The IOC is not happy about the way the torch relay has
become a magnet for angry protests, and organizers were left
with no alternative but to shorten it and change the route,
said Gilbert Felli, the IOC's director of Olympic
"When someone tells you that they are going to smash
your face in, are you going to stand there? No, you are
not," he said. "We did not want to have a confrontation, so
it made sense for the organizers to change things."
When asked if he thought this was a good outcome, he said
"This is not good. How can
this be good? We are not happy. But it was smart risk
John Furlong, the CEO of the Vancouver 2010 Organizing
Committee, said he was distressed by what he saw, but was
grateful that no one appeared to be injured.
"I went to bed crossing my fingers that no one would
be hurt," he said.
"But how can anyone be happy with what took place? I
feel incredibly sad that the mothers and fathers and
children who lined the streets wanting to see the torch
didn't get a chance to do that."