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Gay Activist Peter Tatchell Detained Amid Olympic Flame Protests


Gay activist Peter Tatchell was one of dozens detained in various protests over the weekend surrounding the transit of the Olympic flame through London, including one dramatic moment in which the torch was nearly snatched from the hands of television presenter Konnie Huq (see video, AFTER THE JUMP). There were 80 torch-bearers who carried the flame through London, from Wembley Stadium to Greenwich.

Gays Without Borders reports on the Tatchell arrest: "Mr Tatchell ran in front of the bus carrying the Olympic flame. He held up a placard which read: “Free Tibet, Free Hu Jia.” He shouted the same words as he ran along in front of the bus. The police wrestled Mr Tatchell to the ground, which delayed the bus briefly while he was removed to pavement. After questioning, he was later released without charge."


Said Tatchell,in a statement released later: "Hu Jia was jailed for three and half years in Beijing last week for campaigning for free speech, Tibetan autonomy, environmental protection, and for the human rights of the rural poor and people with HIV. Gordon Brown has shamed himself and Britain by greeting the Olympic torch at Downing Street, at a time when China is shooting dead Tibetan protesters and jailing and torturing hundreds of political prisoners. It is hypocritical for the Prime Minister to boycott the Zimbabwean regime, but not the dictatorial regime in China. These double standards bring our government into disrepute. The UK should not be colluding with a police state like China. Attempts to gently persuade the Beijing leaders to stop their human rights abuses have failed. They are manipulating the Olympics. We must not allow them to exploit the Beijing games to divert attention from China’s abysmal human rights record. All countries that love freedom, democracy and liberty should refuse to host the Olympic torch and boycott the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Athletes should wear Tibetan flags during their events and on the podium when they collect their medals..."

Demonstrators across London wanted to make it clear that they will not tolerate China's human rights abuses as the summer Olympics in Beijing approach.

In all, 37 people were arrested over the course of the day. The flame is now in Paris, where it has been met with so much protest that it has been extinguished and put aboard a bus for its transit. According to Agence France Presse, "Paris's Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe planned to unfurl a giant banner over city hall in defence of human rights."

Watch the clip of the Olympic flame snatch attempt, AFTER THE JUMP...

37 held in Olympic torch protests [the press association]
Olympic torch ambushed in London [peter tatchell]
Pictures and videos: Olympic torch protests in London [shanghaist]
Protestors disrupt Olympic flame relay in Paris [afp]

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  1. Konnie Huq can hardly play the ingenue here - she revealed to the press a week ago or so that she was having doubts about whether she should take part in the Olympic flame run, but ultimately decided to go ahead - revealing such qualms to the press is purely self-promotional if you then decide to take part - either decline or accept, but don't express your reservations then participate anyway - she should have expected something like this would occur, the self-aggrandising totalitarian-regime supporter that she is... There's nothing more inane than the statement that sport and politics are separate and shouldn't be conflated. That myth was revealed as false years ago after the Munich Olympics, and the Moscow Olympics...

    As for Peter Tatchell, gays in the UK have no more dedicated or courageous advocate than Mr Tatchell - Peter, we salute you!

    Posted by: johnnzboy | Apr 7, 2008 9:01:15 AM

  2. The Olympic torch is scheduled to come through San Francisco this week. Amnesty International and Desmond Tutu are holding a protest rally in Civic Center from 6-9pm on Tuesday,April 8.

    Posted by: SFshawn | Apr 7, 2008 11:04:34 AM

  3. Does anyone know when the Olympic flame is expected to come through Los Angeles?

    Posted by: peterparker | Apr 7, 2008 1:05:24 PM

  4. PeterParker, Do you mean Johnny Weir?

    Posted by: Himbo with Highlites | Apr 7, 2008 6:43:06 PM

  5. Hilarious!

    Posted by: jmg | Apr 7, 2008 7:03:56 PM

  6. San Francisco, oddly enough, is the only US city that will host the torch.

    I assume it's because of the large Chinese population here, but it's a terrible choice if they want to avoid controversy. I look forward to the massive protests.

    Posted by: Paul R | Apr 7, 2008 7:34:46 PM

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