Pro-Tibet protesters promise more demos

From AFP
by Katherine Haddon

Two British protestors deported from China after unfurling giant “Free Tibet” banners close to the Beijing Olympic stadium said here Thursday further pro-Tibet protests would take place during the Games.

After arriving at London City Airport, Lucy Fairbrother, 23, said: “There is a whole campaign that will be going on throughout the Olympics.”

She said she and fellow Briton Iain Thom were treated well by the Chinese police after the stunt carried out with two US members of the Students for a Free Tibet group.

“We were treated very even-handedly, we were questioned but the police were kind to us. We were treated fine,” Fairbrother said.

“We were taken immediately to a police station and questioned. One of the reasons that we were there was that Tibetans couldn’t be there in our place.

“They were refused visas and if anyone in Tibet dared to protest, they would certainly be treated much more harshly and would face torture and imprisonment.”

She and 24-year-old Thom were greeted at the airport by campaigners and Tibetan exiles waving Tibetan flags and were given white Tibetan scarves.

Fairbrother’s mother and two sisters also hugged her as she emerged into the airport terminal.

“We were at the Beijing Olympics to highlight China’s use of the Games to whitewash its human rights record and we achieved that, I think,” Thom said.

“There will be more protests during the Olympic Games,” he said, without revealing whether his group would mount the demonstrations.

The banners unfurled by the protesters in Beijing read, in English, “One World, One Dream: Free Tibet” and “Tibet Will Be Free”.

Students for a Free Tibet said the banners were up for more than an hour before Chinese police managed to rip them down.

The unfurling of the banners near Beijing’s iconic “Bird’s Nest” stadium where the opening ceremony will take place Friday was the first major protest around the Olympic Village in the run-up to the Games.

Students for a Free Tibet campaign against what they see as Chinese repression in Tibet, the western region known as the “rooftop of the world” that has been under Chinese rule since 1951.

The issue was given fresh prominence in March when peaceful protests erupted into riots in the regional capital Lhasa, prompting a brutal crackdown by Chinese authorities that drew condemnation around the world.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say 203 people died in the Chinese clampdown, but China insists it acted with restraint and that its forces killed only one Tibetan “rioter”.

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