Video: Protesters Disrupt Seoul Torch Relay

CNN reports from Seoul:

The Olympic flame completed the 17th leg of its protest-plagued global relay in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday — with Chinese students vastly outnumbering demonstrators.

A man doused himself with gasoline and tried to set himself on fire — but was stopped by police.

Scuffles broke out several times along the route between demonstrators and Chinese students waving their country’s red flag.

At least 8,000 riot police were deployed to guard the 15-mile (24 km) route, which started at Olympic Park, built when Seoul hosted the Summer Games in 1988, and winds down at City Hall in central Seoul.

Click here to watch the video.

Here is a report from the New York Times: Chinese Clash With Protesters at Seoul Torch Rally.

Thousands of young Chinese assembled to defend their country’s troubled Olympic torch relay pushed through police lines on Sunday, some of them hurling rocks, bottled water and plastic and steel pipes at protesters demanding better treatment for North Korean refugees in China.

Two North Korean defectors living in South Korea poured paint thinner on themselves and tried to set themselves on fire in an attempt to protest what they condemned as Beijing’s inhumane crackdown of North Korean refugees, but the police stopped them, according to witnesses and the police.

The South Korean police and Chinese students also overpowered at least two other protesters who tried to impede the run along a 15-mile route through Seoul. The route was kept secret until the last minute and guarded by more than 8,300 police officers.

… Hours before the torch run began in Seoul, several thousand Chinese, mostly students studying in South Korea, converged in this city’s Olympic Park, singing, chanting and waving pickets that said “We love China” or “Go, Go China.”

When lone protesters demanded that China stop repatriating North Korean refugees, they were quickly surrounded by jeering Chinese. Near the park, Chinese students surrounded and beat a small group of protesters, news reports said.

In another scuffle, at the city center where the five-hour torch run ended, Chinese surrounded several Tibetans and South Korean supporters who unfurled pro-Tibet banners, and kicked and punched them, witnesses said.

The largest scuffle erupted shortly after the first torch-bearer left the Olympic Park, surrounded by dozens of police officers on foot or on bicycles and hundreds more in buses and trailed by a water cannon, ambulances and helicopters circling overhead.

Many of the Chinese gathered at the park surged toward about 150 protesters, mostly elderly South Koreans and North Korean defectors, who were shouting “No human rights, no Olympics” from across a boulevard.

Armed with plastic shields, the police scuffled with the Chinese as they tried to separate the two groups who were hurling objects at each other. At least one Chinese student was hauled away by the police for throwing a rock. A South Korean newspaper photographer was carried to hospital for treatment of a cut on his head.

The following photos are from Boxun.com and creaders.net:

See also a post on the subject from Tim Johnson’s China Rises blog. For an interactive map of the entire torch relay route, see this feature from the Financial Times.

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April 27, 2008 10:36 PM
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Categories: China & the World