Torch relay begins in South Korea

Minggu, 27 April 2008

Protester wearing a Chinese police uniform during a rally ahead of Olympic torch relay in Seoul, South Korea (26 April 2008)
Human rights activists staged a demonstration ahead of the torch relay

The latest leg of the Olympic torch relay is underway in South Korea with protestors vowing to disrupt its run through the capital Seoul.

The 24-km (15-mile) route from Olympic Park to City Hall will be guarded by 8,000 police officers.

Human rights groups have said thousands are preparing to protest over China's forced repatriation of North Korean refugees and its crackdown in Tibet.

Police warned anyone trying to disrupt the relay would be severely punished.

The torch arrived in South Korea from Japan, where four people were injured and five men arrested in scuffles.

More than 3,000 police could not stop Japanese nationalists and pro-Tibet activists clashing with pro-Chinese groups in the mountain resort of Nagano on Saturday.

China tries to promote itself as a civilised nation but what it's doing to [North Korean] defectors is uncivilised
Kim Sang-chul Human rights lawyer

A coalition of human rights groups in South Korea is warning of similar scenes during the relay in central Seoul.

Protesters have threatened to stop the Olympic beacon crossing one of the main river bridges in the city.

Thousands of Chinese people study or work in South Korea and many of those are expected to welcome the torch.

About 1,500 flag-waving Chinese supporters gathered at the relay's starting point, and a small group of protestors were also seen in the area.

The US embassy has cautioned its citizens in Seoul to avoid unnecessary travel during the relay, which started shortly after 1400 local time (0600 BST).

Dozens of human rights activists took part in a demonstration near the Olympic Park on Saturday ahead of the torch's arrival.

In addition to protests against the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the relay is also seen as an opportunity to raise the issue of China's policy of repatriating North Korean defectors.

Vowing to stop the march, human rights lawyer Kim Sang-chul told South Korean news agency Yonhap China had repatriated 75,000 North Koreans over the past 15 years.

Police officers stand on guard before the 2008 Beijing Olympics torch relay in Nagano
As in Japan, thousands of Chinese supporters are expected to turn out

"China tries to promote itself as a civilised nation but what it's doing to the defectors is uncivilised," he said.

Security for the relay includes 120 police runners and a helicopter.

"Those who attempt to stop the relay will surely be arrested on the site and given stern punishment," a police spokesman said.

Over the following few days, the torch will stop in North Korea and Vietnam.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Seoul says the Pyongyang leg of the relay is guaranteed to be trouble-free.

North Korea tolerates no public protest and the torch will be greeted by hundreds of thousands of people in a choreographed mass display of flower-waving, he says.

Protests elsewhere on the torch's progress have turned the celebratory tour of 20 countries into what analysts describe as a public-relations disaster for Beijing.

Demonstrations in Athens, London, Paris and San Francisco have dominated media coverage of the relay.

But the flame has made relatively peaceful progress through other cities, including Bangkok in Thailand and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

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1 komentar:

Robert 4 Agustus 2008 12.41  

hope we can watch the olympic succeed.

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