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Olympic Protests Continue in Beijing

  • Stephanie Ho

Pro-Tibetan activists unfurled a banner proclaiming "Free Tibet" over an Olympics poster at the headquarters of China's nationwide TV broadcaster. This is the latest in a string of unsanctioned protests during the first full week of the Olympics. Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

Chinese police Friday detained five foreign protesters from the group, Students for a Free Tibet.

The group says two of the demonstrators had climbed up on the still under-construction headquarters of state-owned
China Central Television to hang the banner. The other three watched from below.

"While China has its coming out party to the world, people forget that in Tibet right now, there's a vicious military crackdown that's been in place since March," said a protester.

There is no immediate word as to what happened to Friday's protesters. But other foreign demonstrators detained recently have been quickly deported.

This protest is the latest in a series of small-scale demonstrations by pro-Tibet and other foreign activists, who have criticized China for alleged repression in Tibet, human rights abuses and religious restrictions.

One American activist, Olympic speed skater Joey Cheek, had his visa revoked last week, right before he was due to travel to China as a private citizen. He founded a group called "Team Darfur," that aims to raise awareness of the ongoing crisis in the Sudanese region of Darfur. His group is one that points to China's close relations with the Sudanese government, and calls on Beijing to do more to help resolve the Darfur crisis.

One protest in Beijing earlier this week, that wasn't aimed at China, involved a small group of Georgian citizens, who held demonstrations in front of the Russian Embassy in Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters the crowd was persuaded to disperse and leave, and that what he called "no extreme actions" took place.

Qin also repeated the standard answer he gives to questions about all protests in China - stressing that the staging of processions and demonstrations in China must abide by Chinese laws and regulations.

Meanwhile, Chinese public security authorities have not responded to faxed questions as to how many protest applications they have approved during the Olympics. All Chinese or foreign groups have to apply for permission to hold demonstrations in one of Beijing's officially-designated protest parks.

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