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Tibet activists gather at Chinese consulate in Toronto
CTV.ca[Wednesday, April 09, 2008 23:59]
Toronto, April 9 - About 100 pro-Tibetan demonstrators gathered outside Toronto's Chinese consulate on Wednesday to mark the arrival of the Olympic torch in North America.

The protesters said they are standing in solidarity with demonstrators in San Francisco - the only city to host the North American leg of the torch relay.

Standing on Toronto's St. George Street, waving banners and Tibetan flags, the activists said they are not opposed to the Olympic games being held in Beijing, China but that they want the communist country to improve their human rights record.

"We are not asking for a boycott, they should have the games," one protester told CTV Toronto. "At the same time they should not be using any forceful crackdown on Tibetans."

Pro-Tibetans have been holding marches, rallies and protests since March in an effort to bring attention to their plight under Chinese rule.

The demonstrations have led to some violent clashes between Chinese soldiers and Tibetan protesters.

Activists have said they would like the international community to boycott the opening and closing ceremonies in order to send a clear message to China about human rights violations.

In Toronto, home to one of the largest Tibetan communities in the world, protests have been particularly tense.

In March, demonstrators were able to get past police and climb onto the roof of the Chinese consulate, lowering the country's flag and briefly replacing it with a Tibetan one.

On Wednesday, police kept the crowds behind steel barricades across the street from the consulate.

The demonstration was peaceful with protesters chanting, "free Tibet" and "shame on China."

The rally is expected to end around 4 p.m. but another one is expected to take place on Thursday.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Galit Solomon
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