Protesters Interrupt Olympic Torch-Lighting Ceremony To Condemn China’s ‘Genocide’

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Bryan Babb on October 18, 2021

Activists carrying banners temporarily interrupted the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece on Monday. One protestor carried a Tibetan flag, while others carried a banner reading “No Genocide Games.”

Free Tibet, an organization working campaigning “for an end to China’s occupation of Tibet,” later identified the protesters as Jason Leith, a Free Tibet staff member, and two activists, Chemi Lhamo and Fern MacDougal. The protesters were “thrown to the ground” and arrested by police while attempting to reach the Temple of Hera, according to the Associated Press. Free Tibet also noted that four additional activists were arrested by Greek police while sitting in a car on a public road near the entrance to the torch-lighting ceremony.

“They’re in good spirits,” Free Tibet chief executive Sam Walton said, referring to the detained protesters in a video on Twitter. “They’re going to be in court tomorrow morning, and I’ll be there along, with a lawyer, and we’ll provide some further updates about how that goes.”

“This peace mission, handed down to us since ancient times, requires that the Olympic Games be respected as politically neutral ground,” International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in a speech on Monday. “The Olympic Games cannot address all the challenges in our world,” Bach added.

Beijing previously hosted the 2008 Summer Games, which drew a series of protests at the time.

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The Olympic torch will not be paraded through Greece for the traditional week due to COVID-19 concerns, The Washington Post reported. The Olympic torch is set to arrive in Beijing on Wednesday.

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