Thursday, 24 April 2008

Thousands flock to Canberra ahead of torch relay

Thousands of people have been streaming into Canberra ahead of the Olympic torch relay this morning.

Scores of buses have been arriving from interstate, and the city centre and parliamentary triangle areas are already packed.

International legs of the relay has been marred by clashes between pro-Tibet and pro-China supporters over human rights abuses in Tibet.

Police have been working with protest organisers to ensure the Canberra leg is peaceful and the two groups are kept separate.

Sam Wong from the ACT Chinese Australian Association says both sides have given assurances their protest action will not turn violent.

"Australian people in general are peaceful, harmonious, loving people," he said.

"Among all the communities, including the Chinese and Tibetan, those who live in Australia, I personally have had to deal with them in many, many years, they are strongly supportive of peace and harmony, because we are a great multicultural nation here."

Overnight a small crowd held a candlelit prayer vigil outside the Chinese embassy, just a few blocks from the route of the torch relay.

Tight security

Security will be tight today as the Olympic torch relay swings into action.

Barricades line the entire route and road blocks will ensure the public is kept at a distance from the runners.

A one-kilometre convoy will follow the runner incorporating 18 vehicles and 6 motorcycles.

ACT chief police officer Michael Phelan says he is hopeful protesters make for a peaceful day.

"Both our intelligence and our liaison with all of those groups has been very good," he said.

"They've assured us that they're looking for a peaceful event to try and showcase not only the message they want to get across but also showcase Australia and Canberra."


Four arrested in Kings Cross Tibet protest
Three Sydney men and a woman will face court next month after flying a pro-Tibet protest flag from a building in Kings Cross. The four have been charged with trespassing, after they gained access to a building and draped the flag over a well-known sign in Darlinghurst Road yesterday afternoon. The four will go before court in mid-May.

Tension builds as Canberra prepares for torch relay
The demonstrators have lit several hundred candles, some spelling out the phrase 'Free Tibet'.

Sydney Harbour Olympic protesters arrested
Two protesters were arrested on the Sydney Harbour bridge as the Olympic torch flew into Canberra this morning to a red carpet welcome.

Olympic torch touches down in Canberra
The flame flew in from Jakarta, where it was paraded through a heavily-guarded stadium last night after police stopped about 100 pro-Tibet protesters from disrupting the Indonesian relay leg.

Police get extra powers for torch relay

Amnesty International has published their annual death penalty count and China remains the top executioner in the world. April 16 2008

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