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IOC urged to scrap Tibet torch relay
Reuters[Monday, March 24, 2008 04:52]
An exiled Tibetan group has urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to scrap the Beijing Olympics torch relay through the region.

Beijing has been widely criticised following a large security operation after protests in Tibet in the past two weeks, a region China has occupied and ruled since a 1950 military invasion.

"If the IOC has any respect in itself, the first thing it needs to do is drop the Tibet part of the relay," Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet, told reporters on Sunday.

Tenzin Dorjee was speaking in Olympia a day before the Beijing Olympics torch-lighting ceremony in the birthplace of the ancient Games and the start of the torch relay.

Tibetan activists have planned to stage protests on Monday as hundreds of police patrol the streets of the small town for fear of any disruptions to the widely televised ceremony and the start of the relay.

"Carrying China's bloodstained torch through Tibet where we are seeing evidence of discontent would be adding insult to 50 years of injury," Tenzin Dorjee added.

Unrest in Tibet began when Buddhist monks demonstrated in the capital, Lhasa, on March 10, the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and on subsequent days.

Five days later anti-Chinese rioting shook the city. Chinese authorities said one policeman and 18 civilians have been killed.

Anti-government protests then flared in nearby provinces with large ethnic Tibetan populations, leading to violence in which several people were killed and many injured.

Human rights groups and other organisations have called for a tough stance against Beijing and even a Games boycott.

The IOC has approved the Games torch relay that includes Tibet and the peak of Mount Everest.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said on Sunday although the IOC was not a political organisation the Games would bring positive change to China.

"The IOC has so far not been able to bring more freedom to China," Tenzin Dorjee said. "I hold Mr Jacques Rogge and the IOC personally responsible for what happens in Tibet."

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