'One World - One Dream'??????

'One World - One Dream'??????

Olympic Flame Lit Amid Protest

Nicholas Paphitis in Ancient Olympia, Greece
Associated Press
March 24, 2008

Three men from a free-press group ran onto the field of the stadium in Ancient Olympia during Monday's flame-lighting ceremony for the Beijing Olympics, evading massive security aimed at preventing such disruptions in the wake of China's crackdown in Tibet.

Three members of the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders were detained after their protest, which occurred as Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Olympics organizing committee and Beijing Communist Party Secretary, was giving a speech. Police confirmed they had detained three French nationals.

One protester held a black banner showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs. The group said three members, including the group's secretary general Robert Menard, managed to get into the ceremony without being stopped.

"If the Olympic flame is sacred, human rights are even more so," the group said in a statement. "We cannot let the Chinese government seize the Olympic flame, a symbol of peace, without denouncing the dramatic situation of human rights in the country."

The group has urged heads of state to boycott the games' opening ceremony.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge attended the ceremony at the 2,800-year-old birthplace of the ancient games in southern Greece. The flame for the games was lit using the sun's rays.

Ahead of expected protests by pro-Tibetan groups, Greek officials said politics have no place at the event. More than a thousand police officers were deployed around the site.

Meanwhile, China pledged strict security measures to ensure that the torch relay, which begins with the lighting ceremony, is not marred by protests.

China state TV cut away from the protest and showed a prerecorded scene, preventing Chinese viewers from seeing the incident. Chinese television commentators did not mention the demonstration.

Tibet Crackdown

China's Communist leadership has faced a public relations disaster since demonstrations against Chinese rule turned violent March 14 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, sparking waves of unrest in surrounding provinces.

People who sympathize with the Tibetan cause have also staged rallies in other countries. (See a photo of a pro-Tibet protest last week in India.)

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