Police Break Up Pro-Tibet Protest

JAKARTA ~ Police swooped on rights activists protesting against Chinese rule in Tibet outside the venue of the Olympic torch relay in Jakarta on Tuesday, detaining at least nine including a Dutchman.

The protesters were carrying banners reading “No human rights, no Olympics” and chanting “A united people will be invincible” when police moved in, dragging nine away for questioning.

The demonstration outside the national stadium came three hours ahead of the 2:00pm start of the heavily restricted relay event that was closed to the public amid Chinese anger at protests against its rights record.

Eight of those detained, including four members of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, were released after being questioned over their permits to protest.

The Dutchman was taken to Jakarta police headquarters, according to a member of his rights organization.

Another two people wearing Chinese Muslim headgear were also taken by the police as they unfurled a banner reading “Chinese Muslims welcome Beijing Olympics.” They were also quickly released.

The rights activists, wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with “Free Tibet,” were unfazed by the arrests and chanted “peaceful action, peaceful action” in response to the police intervention.

Security forces watched on for another 30 minutes until the demonstrators concluded their action.

“These arrests show that Indonesia is afraid of China’s pressure,” protest organiser Tri Agus said at the scene.

He asked why police failed to act to stop recent violence against a minority Muslim sect but pounced on peaceful rights activists.

“They made a problem of whether we had the permit to protest but the fact is we submitted our request,” said Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation member Gatot.

He said police had not been violent toward the demonstrators.

Under Indonesian law, protest organizers have to notify police at least one day before their planned action.

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