Tibetans plan large Canberra rally to push China for talks

April 12th, 2008 - 12:01 am ICT by admin  

DPA
Beijing, April 11 (DPA) A large protest planned by Tibetans and their supporters during the Olympic torch relay in Canberra is aimed at pushing China to talk to the exiled Dalai Lama and is not against China or the Olympics, the Australia Tibet Council said Friday. Most of Australia’s estimated 450 Tibetan citizens are expected to join a rally in the Australian city April 24, joined by a “large network of Tibet supporters,” Simon Bradshaw, the council’s campaign coordinator, told DPA in Beijing.

“It’s important to point out that this is not anti-Chinese, it’s not anti-Olympics; it’s really about Tibet, it’s about recognizing the problems that are there,” Bradshaw said.

“We’re very lucky in Australia in that we have the right to democratic protest in a way that Chinese, and certainly Tibetans, don’t at the moment,” he said.

“So there is an intention to use the torch relay to really highlight what’s going on in Tibet and build further pressure on China to sit down with the Dalai Lama before the Olympics,” he said.

Bradshaw said he was “disappointed” that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s talks with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao Thursday apparently failed to soften China’s position on dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

He said there was “every likelihood” that Australian supporters of Tibetans would also stage a protest during the Beijing Olympics in August.

Rudd Thursday reaffirmed that “total security will be provided by the Australian authorities” during the Canberra torch relay, following complaints that China’s military-trained torch guards were over-zealous in London last weekend.

He said the Chinese guards would travel on a bus in Canberra and only get off if the Olympic torch needed to be relit.

Rudd said he had urged Wen to hold a dialogue with the Dalai Lama and had “considerable discussion” lasting some 30 minutes on the recent unrest in China’s Tibetan areas.

“I think we have a different view, that’s quite plain,” he said of the discussion on Tibet.

“When it comes to the particular events of recent times, the position of the Australian government is that there are significant human rights problems in Tibet,” Rudd said.
DPA

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