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Police, Tibetans scuffle in protest

8/29/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Tibetan protesters and police briefly
scuffled at the main Olympic stadium complex Sunday, just hours
before organizers of the 2008 Beijing Games were to receive the
Olympic flag at the closing ceremony.

After passing through a security checkpoint, six activists from
the International Tibet Support Network unfurled a black flag with
five bullet holes replacing the Olympic rings, and began marching
toward the main stadium.

They were stopped by about two dozen police and security guards
who seized the flag in a brief scuffle. Olympic rules forbid
political banners in venues.

Police also searched the protesters' bags, confiscating several
T-shirts and stickers with the same logo and copies of a report on
human rights in Tibet.

There were no injuries, and the protesters sat down in protest,
saying they wanted to speak to a representative of the
International Olympic Committee and hand over the flag so it could
be presented to the Beijing organizers.

"We feel that this is the flag that Beijing truly deserves,''
spokesman Tenzin Sewo said.

No IOC representative arrived, and the protesters eventually
left.

China maintains Tibet has been part of its territory for at
least seven centuries, but many Tibetans say they were an
independent nation for most of that time. Rights groups such as
Amnesty International have accused China, which invaded Tibet in
1951, of widespread human-rights abuses.