Thailand pledges tight security, threatens arrests as torch arrives

April 18th, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by admin  

Bangkok, April 18 (DPA) The Beijing Olympic torch arrived in Bangkok amid tight security early Friday after a run in India during which more than 320 pro-Tibet activists were arrested. Thailand, a close Beijing ally, has promised tight security for its leg of the relay Saturday in Bangkok.

“I am confident there will be no violence,” said General Yuthasak Sasriprapha, chairman of the Olympic Committee of Thailand.

He added that the 10-kilometre relay route, which is to start at Chinatown Gate and end at the Royal Plaza near parliament, might be shortened.

The torch arrived aboard a China Airlines charter flight before being whisked under police escort to a luxury hotel.

The torch procession has been dogged by pro-Tibet, anti-Beijing protests in Paris, London, San Francisco and New Delhi, but Thailand plans to deploy 2,000 police and soldiers in Bangkok and provide helicopter coverage to scout out troublemakers to assure its portion of the relay is carried out without a hitch.

Authorities have warned that foreign activists would be arrested if they participate in violent protests.

At least one Bangkok-based human rights group, FORUM-ASIA, has promised to hold a rally Saturday to protest China’s plans to bring the torch to Tibet as part of the Olympic procession.

“The people’s blood has been spilled in Tibet, and yet the government of China still insists on bringing the Olympic torch to this land that they have violated,” a FORUM-ASIA statement said.

In collaboration with the Free Tibet Network, the human rights group plans a “No Torch in Tibet” protest march to coincide with the torch relay in Bangkok.

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