Thai Police hardpressed in quelling anti-Chinese torch relay protests

April 19th, 2008 - 7:43 pm ICT by admin  

Bangkok, April 19 (ANI) Police and other security personnel in Thailand capital Bangkok were hardpressed on Saturday in trying to keep anti-China and pro-China demonstrators at bay duirng the Olympic torch relay this afternoon.
The over ten kilometre-long run from Bangkok’s China town to the golden-spired Grand Palace saw several demonstrators trying to break through the security barricades to disrupt the relay. Several of them had to be forcibly pushed back.
About 200 Chinese also taunted pro-Tibet demonstrators, waving the Chinese flags outside the regional headquarters of the United Nations, chanting pro-China slogans. Anti-China demonstrators held aloft banners saying “No Torch in Tibet” and “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet”.
A police helicopter hovered overhead as the torch and runners began their 10.5-km-long relay from the city’s China Town, watched by Olympic marshals and tightly escorted by police patrols and motorcycles.
The parade got underway without incident with crowds cheering as the symbolic flame made the short journey towards the golden-spired Grand Palace.
The relay was flagged off by Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sanan Kajornprasart, who said politics and sport are two separate entities, and should not be linked.
Police in Thailand capital Bangkok were out in full strength to ward off fresh anti-China protests, as the Olympic torch moved through its streets.
The chief of Thailand’s Olympic Association, General Yuthasak Sasiprapa, was quoted by news agencies as saying that as long as the parade went off smoothly, there would be no strong-arm tactics by the law enforcement personnel.
Sasiprapa further said that the authorities would not tolerate violent, or illegal protests, and added that the torch and runners would be tightly secured by police patrols and motorcycles throughout the relay.
Several thousand police were drafted to protect the torch route. Alternative routes were also earmarked in case of an emergency.
The relay in Bangkok comes two days after a similar relay in New Delhi, India, where at least 15,000 to 18,000 security personnel were deployed to ensure that it went off smoothly and without incident. With over 100,000 exiled Tibetans living in Delhi, vociferous protests were anticipated. A parallel relay was organised by the Tibetans outside the security ring. There were incidents of disturbance which were quickly put down.(ANI)

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