Saturday, 19 April 2008

Passing the torch

An update on the Olympic flame relay today in Bangkok, as posted today in the Bangkok Post, a nationwide English newspaper based in Bangkok.

Interesting to see that the Chinese don't trust the Thai authorities to protect the flame.
My respect to M.R. Narisa Chakrabongse, since she's a Thai citizen, they can't revoke her visa, which makes me wonder if there will be any other repercussions for her;

The Beijing Olympics torch arrived in Bangkok on Friday morning after a tumultuous run in India. Police are warning would-be protesters not to try to disrupt the Saturday afternoon procession in Bangkok.

The torch along with its stern-faced Chinese security agents arrived on a Chinese charter flight that was the only flight to land at the the military side of Don Muang airport, well away from the general public.

It landed at 2.40am Thailand time, and the Chinese embassy scared up around 30 Thai-Chinese to wave Chinese and Olympics flags (no Thai flags) as the plane landed, according to the news agency AFP.

The plane arrived from India, where at least 180 Tibetan activists were arrested during the relay in New Delhi.

The torch will be kept at a downtown hotel on Friday, but guarded entirely by Chinese, who apparently do not trust Thai police enough to let them too close to the torch.

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama denied foreigners protesting at the Olympic torch relay on Saturday will be deported, but said they could fact legal problems.

Police have warned all would-be protesters against any attempt to disrupt the Bejing Olympics torch relay on Saturday afternoon.

"Action will be taken" against anyone who tries to spoil the 10.5-km run through the inner city, police spokesman Watcharapol Prasanratchakij said on Thursday.
"We are prepared to deal with ill-intentioned groups," he said.

A coalition of Thai human rights groups plan a small demonstration on Saturday, but have not announced their final plans.

Mr Noppadon said activists have the right to protest as long as they refrain from violence.

The Foreign Ministry will not revoke visas of foreign protesters if they do not break the law, "but if they cause trouble the government hast the right to take legal action against them," he said.

Pol Lt-Gen Watcharapol said city police will ensure security for the relay and direct traffic. The Special Branch will work with the Chinese embassy to investigate any possible threat.

The relay starts at the Chinatown Gate about 3 p.m. Thailand time and ends at the Royal Plaza.

One of the designated Thai torch-bearers, M.R. Narisa Chakrabongse, founder and chairwoman of the Green World Foundation, earlier withdrew in protest.

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