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Clashes at Olympic Torch Relay in London
Pro-Tibet protestors and Pro-China supporters clash along 31-mile route
Rupesh Silwal (rooproop)     Print Article 
Published 2008-04-07 12:08 (KST)   
©2008 R.Silwal

The Olympic Torch Relay Run in London, which started at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, saw a series of clashes along its 31-mile route, which was lined with Pro-Tibet protestors and pro-China supporters waving their respective flags.

"If you think Tibet is a part of China, since when?" One pro-Tibet protestor argued with a pro-China supporter, who answered back, "Since always."

Clashes were not limited to oral debates but included serious attempts to snatch the Olympic torch. According to one report, a fire extinguisher was used in an attempt to snuff out the flame. Those demonstrators who are against China rule in Tibet even tried to block the path of the relay.

Olympic torch at Trafalgar Square.
©2008 R.Silwal

Tibet supporter protesting the event.
©2008 R.Silwal

One protestor tried to snatch the Olympic torch from popular television host Konnie Huq.

"I do feel for the cause. China has a despicable human rights record," Huq told BBC television.

Every torch holder was shielded by Chinese flame attendants and secured by police officers throughout the journey. It is an Olympic tradition to keep the torch continually aflame until the closing ceremony of the Games, which takes place this year in Beijing in August.

At 12:45 p.m. the Chinese ambassador to London, Fu Ying, carried the flame through a well-decorated Chinatown. The route was unpublicized. She has accused the British media of purposeful manipulation of Tibetan issues.

Chinese banner.
©2008 R.Silwal

Tibet supporter.
©2008 R.Silwal

Around 1 p.m., the flame arrived at Britain's iconic attraction -- Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square. There, performances and music raised the excitement of the crowd. A welcome banner dropped from a mechanically set lift rose from the stage. With its colorful balloons and placards, this spot in the heart of London might have been seen as festive but for the free-Tibet campaigners at the event to protest and make their voices heard.

Amid police cordons and air patrols, the free-Tibet supporters shouted "Shame on China!"

Pro-China supporters chanted "Divine Olympics no politics" and "One China."

British-Chinese attendees chanting slogan to support Beijing Olympics.
©2008 R.Silwal

Tibet supporter's banner at the Torch Relay venue, part of the campaign to free human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng in China.
©2008 R.Silwal

The pro-Tibet protestors and pro-China supporters, who were otherwise lined up along the Torch Relay route, were neck and neck at Trafalgar booing, whistling and shouting at each other.

A few protesters dared to walk through Dolphin fountain and managed to wave a free-Tibet banner. Immediately, a pro-China supporter followed.

One of the artists in attendance was seen painting slogans on the ground:

"Chinese government stop being aggressive."

"All you need is love."

"It is engrained in the hearts of the Tibetan people to be peaceful."

Former athlete Steve Cram carried the Olympic torch from Trafalgar Square.

Air patrol as seen from the base of Nelson's Column during the Olympic Torch Relay Run in London.
©2008 R.Silwal

A woman accuses the Chinese government of killing innocent people.
©2008 R.Silwal

At almost 1:15 p.m. the torch was greeted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown at his residence. The relay passed through London's most iconic landmarks, social and tourist centers, including St. Paul's Cathedral.

Around 6 p.m., the London portion of the Torch Relay came to an end. The relay was concluded by using the torch to light the cauldron at one of the venues for the 2012 Olympic Games -- the O2 Arena at Greenwich.

World-renowned athletes, entertainers and dignitaries relayed the torch along the 31-mile route from Wembley Stadium to its final destination in London. However, disabled comedian Francesca Martinez declined to attend the relay and did not hold the torch. She publicly announced that taking part would legitimize the ongoing violence in Tibet.

First lit in Olympia, Greece, on March 24, the torch will pass through 20 countries before arriving at the opening ceremony in Beijing on Aug. 8. The lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece was disrupted last month by demonstrators against Chinese rule in Tibet.

The flame is on an 85,000-mile journey round the world.

Tibet supporter.
©2008 R.Silwal

- _382267_1[1].wmv 
- Chinese music band entering the Torch relay area 
- Free Tibet supporter and Pro-China supporter discussing among each other 

©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Rupesh Silwal

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