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Protests Disrupt Torch Ceremony for Beijing Olympic Games བོད་སྐད།


Human rights activists disrupted the torch lighting ceremony for the Beijing Olympic games Monday, after pushing through tight security in Ancient Olympia, Greece.

Three members of the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders unfurled a flag showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs to protest China's alleged human rights abuses.

Chinese and Greek television coverage cut away from their live broadcast of a speech by China's Olympic organizing committee chief Liu Qi during the interruption.

The activists (- which included Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Robert Menard -) were arrested and later released on bail. The group says the activists were charged with showing contempt for national symbols, which it says carries a sentence of up to a year in prison.

Moments later, several pro-Tibetan protesters tried to block the torch as it was carried down Olympia's streets.

One Tibetan woman covered herself in red paint as a symbol of blood and lay in front of a runner carrying the flame. At least nine protesters were detained.

Greek police later detained American activist after the Tibetan exile confronted IOC chief Jacques Rogge at his hotel. Tenzin Dorjee and Rogge spoke for more than three minutes in front of reporters before the IOC official walked away.

Rogge said Monday that the committee is concerned about the violence in Tibet. But he said the Beijing Olympics will be an opportunity for the people of China and the world to respect each other.

After Monday's ceremony in Greece -- the birthplace of the ancient Olympic games -- the torch will travel to Athens, site of the first modern Olympics. There it will be handed over to Chinese authorities and relay runners will carry it some 137-thousand kilometers over five months to Beijing.

Pro-Tibetan activists are demanding the International Olympic Committee cancel plans to carry the torch through Tibet because of recent deadly protests there.

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