Agam's Gecko
Monday, April 21, 2008
Tibet in KL
A pro-Tibet demonstrator holds the flag before the start of the torch relay in Kuala Lumpur, April 21, 2008.
Photo: Reuters / stringer

he author of Kuala Lumpur for a Free Tibet blog has already described his experience this afternoon. Be sure to read his full account, I'm condensing things here.

He says he has been to rallies before, in Malaysia and in the US, but that today was the "scariest" of all. He carried a yellow banner carrying a single word: "LIBERTY." He was accosted by about 20 "thugs" as he calls them --"volunteer youth" from PRC -- who pushed him around, with their big red flags covering up the action. He was told to leave.

Hafiz replied that he was in Malaysia, not communist China; this made them more upset. They took away his banner but a Chinese Malaysian woman helped him get it back, after which she was also harrassed. Much cursing and insults in Chinese language (according to a friend who translated it for him), and police were required to calm the little mob down. The helpful lady was given a warning by the police, who let the thugs walk away freely.

Once the relay started, he shouted "Free Tibet!" and was grabbed from behind by another "patriot." Calling for help from two nearby police officers sent the aggressive person walking off into the crowd. It seemed to him, Hafiz writes, that the police actually feared these thugs. He stayed close to the police after that. He saw three Japanese people in the same area, the starting point at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Field), thrown out by the thugs.

Thank you for speaking up for Liberty, Hafiz. It's a shame you had to go through such an experience in your own country. Canberra folks, take note and be careful. Some pictures from KL will be posted later at Kuala Lumpur Metblogs.

Early news reports say police in KL detained a Japanese family for "disrupting" things. It doesn't sound like they were the disruptive ones.
A noisy crowd of Chinese nationals heckled and hit a Japanese family with inflated plastic batons after they unfurled a Tibetan flag before the start of the Malaysian leg of the Olympic Torch relay Monday.

The family, comprising two adults and a boy, was detained by police, who also took a Buddhist monk and a British woman into custody.
Bloomberg reports that five people were taken into custody, all of them human rights supporters. It sounds like the aggressive Chinese students were practically given free reign there, as they seemed to be in Bangkok.

Indonesia has decided to scrap the public aspect of their torch relay, and make tomorrow's Jakarta event closed to public.
The Indonesian public will be unable to see the relay of the Olympic torch Tuesday as it will be carried inside a Jakarta sports stadium in a ceremony attended only by invited guests, officials said Monday.

"The capacity of the stadium is too small, so we cannot allow all people to enter," Rita Subowo, president of the Indonesian National Sports Committee, told a press conference.
That's what India basically did, by using overwhelming police numbers to close the entire governmental district, and keep the torch within that area and the public out. At Bung Karno Stadium it will be much easier to keep liberty-speakers out. I wonder if Bung Karno (the affectionate name for Sukarno, father of independence) would be proud of this.

Down in Canberra, police are worried about the Olympic equivalent of football hooliganism, as Chinese patriots are promising upwards of 10,000 PRC human rights policy lovers to confront "running dogs" and "ethnic scum" on April 24. The Chinese embassy is picking up the tab.
Pro-Beijing protest organizer Zhang Rongan told The Sydney Morning Herald that the Chinese embassy in Canberra had promised free transport from Sydney and Melbourne and free meals for those who wanted to show their support for Beijing. He estimated that up to 10,000 Chinese could be in Canberra to welcome the torch.
One prominent Australian has pulled out of the run.
ACT Australian of the Year, Lin Hatfield- Dodds, says while she still supports the Olympics, the new symbolism of the relay is what caused the change of heart.

"The meaning's changed with the kind of activities that have been happening with China and Tibet," she told SBS.
Approximately 5,000 South Africans joined the annual Gandhi Salt March from Mahatma Gandhi's home in Phoenix Settlement to the Durban beachfront on Sunday -- this year in solidarity with Tibet. It was organised by a group called Satyagraha.
Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi and one of the organisers, said the march aimed to instil the non-violent ways of life that Gandhi had fought for.

"We support the cause of Tibet, Myanmar and Zimbabwe in a non-violent manner," Gandhi said at the event...

Participants in the 22-km long march, which has been an annual affair in Durban for the past four years, echoed the sentiments of the Tibetan cause while stressing on peaceful means of protest.
I'll bet the Mahatma is somewhere up there, feeling proud of his former countrymen.

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