Agam's Gecko
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Tibet supporters in Japan
Supporters of Tibetan rights gather at Nagano, central Japan for the Olympic torch relay on April 26, 2008.
Photo: REUTERS / Issei Kato

cuffles broke out in Nagano today as the flaming torch of harmony made its way through the Japan leg of the international relay. China supporters far outnumbered the human rights supporters, and Japanese nationalists were also in the mix. There were some minor injuries.
Four Chinese supporters were injured and five men were arrested, fire officials and police said, including one man who was wrestled to the ground after running into the relay path holding a Tibetan flag and shouting "Free Tibet."
The primary 'support China' chant hasn't changed at all since Bangkok (I have no idea what they were shouting in other cities, but I heard this one a lot here last weekend). If you say you're in favour of human rights, what's the answer?
A small group of Amnesty International members protested in front of Nagano station, wearing blindfolds and chanting "Human Rights for China." They were approached by a crowd of Chinese supporters chanting back "Liars, liars."
Doesn't quite seem like a logical response, but there you go. AFP reports one Chinese student injured in a scuffle, but not with Tibetans.
One Chinese student at the rally suffered a cut to his forehead in a scuffle with Japanese nationalists. He was taken to a hospital but his injuries were not serious, a fire department official said.

The relay was briefly stopped as nationalists threw objects that media reports said were flares. Police immediately sealed off the area as furious Chinese shouted, "Arrest them! Arrest them!"
The run kicked off from a car park, after the historic Zenkoji Temple pulled out of that role.
The Zenkoji temple instead held a prayer ceremony to mourn both Chinese and Tibetans killed in the recent unrest. Some 300 people prayed in silence as 20 orange-robed monks read out the names of victims and hit a gong.
Only two members of the PLASFPU squad were permitted to follow the torch, which enjoyed a level of security normally only accorded to Emperor Akihito.

Do not kill our friends
Japanese suporters of Tibetan rights asked China not to kill their friends.
Photo: AFP / Toshifumi Kitamura
In writing about these relays and the events in Tibet here on my little blog, I'm reminded that I should be thankful I'm doing this in Thailand, rather than certain other nearby countries. A Vietnamese blogger has been arrested for doing this.
The newspaper Vietnam Law reported that Ho Chi Minh City police Tuesday arrested Nguyen Van Hai, who blogs under the name Dieu Cay, on charges of tax evasion...

Vietnamese democracy activists, who requested anonymity, said that Hai had actually been detained on Monday in the resort town of Dalat, 300 kilometres north-west of Ho Chi Minh City, and escorted back to Ho Chi Minh City to facilitate the search of his house.

On his blog, Hai had featured articles on protests against the torch in other cities around the world, and others critical of China's policies in Tibet and the Spratlys and opposing the torch's relay through Vietnam.
The torch comes to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) on April 29.

I'm also very lucky to have many helpful and friendly readers, one of whom sent an interesting article on the technology behind little flame of harmony. What I found most interesting though, was some of the historical information it contained. We all know by now that the relay running of the flame was an invention of Mr. Hitler in 1936. But I hadn't known that the Furhrer also introduced the tradition of lighting the first torch from the sun.

Although they didn't perform these relay shows, the ancient Olympians did honour the symbolism of fire. Flame races were conducted in honour of Zeus and Prometheus, who legendarily stole fire (representing wisdom and knowledge) from the gods, and brought them to humankind. It's good to remember that, in the ancient Olympian ethos, the flame symbolizes wisdom and knowledge.

Somebody should remind the International Olympic Committee of this heritage. ICT, as well as some mainstream news media, have picked up on the existence of a leaked IOC memo with some disturbing contents. The custodians of the Olympic tradition have seemingly given the CCP government of China authorities a free hand to suppress at will.
A confidential International Olympics Committee memo obtained by the organization Reporters Without Borders refers to demonstrations that might take place as the torch passes through Tibet on what Beijing describes as its 'Journey of Harmony'. The 26-page IOC memo, marked confidential and sent to national Olympics committees on March 26, stated that the "IOC will not interfere with the actions of local authorities", and that in the event of an "extreme crisis," the IOC and BOCOG suggest making no comment or expressing condolences with any victims. (RSF report, April 9)
The RSF report on this document is here.

The ICT article also has a new piece of information about the measures adopted within Tibet back in March. If such a thing should happen when the torch is brought through Tibet in June, don't expect IOC to say much about it.
In one incident following March 14, armed police came to a family home to take away the bodies of three children who had all been shot in the back, for 'post-mortem', according to a source in touch with eyewitnesses. The police arrived when families were carrying out traditional religious rituals for the children, and the families were warned that they would go to prison if they did not release the bodies.
The Times reports that IOC officials are prepared for deaths in Tibet due to the torch run, and the resentment by many Tibetans for what it represents to them. "Response protocols" have been prepared for any eventuality.
The IOC defended its memo as good governance. "Part of any robust crisis management preparation is to take the worst-case scenarios. We don’t want them to happen but we have to prepare for everything," Giselle Davies, communications director, said.
The Times says the "response protocols" actually do include sympathy, which is nice.

My airy optimism of yesterday, following the announcement of China's agreement to meetings with envoys of Dalai Lama, has been short lived. In fact, it was only about 5 minutes until I clicked on the similarities between this, and the Burmese military junta's agreement to start dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi at their height of international opprobrium last October. Those meetings have been simply for 12 second glimpses of The Lady on Burma's evening news, once a month or so. Nothing substantive at all. But it got the world off their back.

Now, on the day following the long hoped-for "breakthrough" of China finally accepting Dalai Lama's pleas for dialogue, state media attacks.
But the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, also printed an editorial on Saturday attacking "the Dalai clique" for seeking support from Western countries and ignoring "the efforts and achievements made by China after shaking off serfdom and poverty in Tibet."

The Tibet Daily, another party newspaper, said, "The Lhasa March 14 incident is another ugly performance meticulously plotted by the Dalai clique to seek Tibet independence."
Maybe it just takes some time for the memos to filter down through the heirarchy. There I go being optimistic again.

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