A plateau region north-east of the Himalayas, Tibet was incorporated by China in 1950 and currently an autonomous region within China. The conflict between many Tibetans and Chinese government has been nonstop as many demand religious freedom and more human rights. In March, 2008, a series of protests turned into riots in different regions across Tibet. Rioters attacked Han ethnic inhabitants and burned their businesses, resulting dozens of death.  

Tight rein kept on Tibet, rights protesters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2008, 12:00am

Attempts by serial protesters and other activists to demonstrate during the Olympic equestrian event at Sha Tin were quickly snuffed out by security guards yesterday.

Christina Chan Hau-man, the University of Hong Kong student who raised a Tibetan flag during the Olympic torch relay in the city, and a friend tried to display the banned Tibetan 'snow lion' flag - which they had hidden underneath a Canadian flag.

As they were trying to uncover the Tibet flag, several security guards who had been monitoring them pounced and covered them with a blue sheet before carrying them out.

Another activist, Shing Wai-pong, was stopped during screening at the Sha Tin venue entrance at about 5am because he was wearing a Reporters Without Borders T-shirt displaying an Olympic logo with handcuffs replacing the rings and, on the back, Chinese characters reading 'democracy and human rights are more important than the Olympics'.

'What [the central government] is doing does not correspond with the spirit of the Olympic Games,' he said. 'There are people suffering in Sichuan but they are spending so much money on promoting the Games.'

Mr Shing said he was with his friend Lui Yuk-lin - once known as 'Female Long Hair' for her frequent protests alongside April 5th Action activist 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung. Mr Shing said he and Ms Lui were taken by security guards to toilet blocks and asked to remove their clothes. Mr Shing was refused entry to the venue, but Ms Lui was let in.

Mr Leung and fellow activist Koo Sze-yiu caused a stir at the end of Chinese competitor Alex Hua Tian's run in the dressage event when Mr Koo unfurled a banner reading 'Human right, [sic] freedom for China, no dictatorship'.

Mr Leung said he had smuggled the banner in his underpants.

Hua, who was warmly received by spectators, had already had a tough round when his horse, Chico, was spooked by camera flashes as reporters took pictures of a scuffle between activists and security guards.

The rider laughed when he was asked about the protest. 'I'm immensely proud to ride for my country,' he said, adding that it was great to compete on home soil. 'I don't have a full picture of the [the protest attempt], so I can't really comment.'

Just before the end of last night's events, two US members of the Students for A Free Tibet group, Matt Browner-Hamlin and Brianna Cotter, also tried to display a Tibet flag. Both were escorted from the venue.

Equestrian Company chief executive Lam Woon-kwong said protesters had deliberately violated the rules by displaying political messages, banned under International Olympic Committee rules. He said security guards in the venue asked the protesters to stop before ejecting them.

'The protesters did not stop despite persuasion, so we had no choice but to remove them from the venue,' Mr Lam said. 'We used the most peaceful means possible to get them out of the venue.'

He said the protesters' actions had interfered with spectators' viewing pleasure.

Celine Sun, Phoebe Cheng, Tiffany Lam, Susan Ramsay and Yau Chui-yan



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