By Kyle Robinson & Sebastian Sandenbergh
In the wake of the Chinese crackdown on protests in Tibet, the Olympic Torch Relay was disrupted in Paris on 7 April, when human rights campaigners forced the torch carriers to find refuge in a bus. It is reported that the torch was extinguished 5 times in the escapade. French President Nicolas Sarkozy described the protests as a “sad spectacle”.
The torch procession was halted outside the French Parliament, when police could not control the crowd, needing to escort firemen and colleagues to safety. Torch carriers had no choice but to travel the rest of the journey in a bus. The protests included ferocious scuffles and banners reading “For a bloody world welcome to the Olympics made in China”, and activists climbing the Eiffel Tower to hang a banner of the Olympic rings depicting handcuffs.
Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), called on China to peacefully end the unrest and suppression in Tibet, “Violence, for whatever reason, is not compatible with the values of the torch relay or the Olympic Games.” Despite China proclaiming itself a “harmonious society”, and a rising economic and political stronghold prepared to host the Olympics for the first time, the uprisings in Tibet highlighted the political turmoil that subliminally underpin China’s public visage. Tibetans insist that there have been 60 years of repression under Chinese rule and that the unrest, which began on 10 March, has lead to over 150 deaths.
While the IOC claims it will rebound from the crises during the torch relay, the protests have, in the Dalai Lama’s words, “Conveyed to the world that the Tibet issue can no longer be neglected.” The EU Parliament drafted a resolution that will call for EU leaders to boycott the Olympics Games should peace talks not continue between the PRC and the Dalai Lama’s exiled government.