Right to Speak Extinguished

Christian Kerr writes on the Australian about the Relay in Canberra:

AT times it looked like Lygon Street or Leichhardt on the night of a big game: young blokes driving up and down; flags sticking out of the windows.

But the context was wrong. This wasn’t Melbourne or Sydney’s inner city. It was the wide, formal avenues of the nation’s capital.

The mood was different, too. It felt like one of those soccer games where 500 years of Balkan history is played out on the pitch.

The Olympic Torch Relay run through Canberra was supposed to be a celebration. Instead, it became a clash of cultures. Australia’s lost. Yesterday, Beijing suppressed freedom of expression in the heart of our .

Also on the Australian:

GANGS of Chinese students have marred the Australian leg of the Olympic torch relay, assaulting, intimidating and harassing vastly outnumbered pro-Tibetan activists as the torch was carried through Canberra’s streets.

Last night, the ACT Government proclaimed the event an “outstanding success” after managing to avoid the violence that has marked the flame’s passage through Europe and the US.

“This is the 14th stop of the Beijing Olympic torch relay … and it’s the first successful relay that’s been run,” ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said.

While the majority of the crowd was peaceful, there was sporadic violence during yesterday’s 16km run. Seven people were arrested – five pro-China supporters and two pro-Tibetans. Early in the relay, one man jumped a barrier and sat cross-legged in the torch’s path, only to be quickly bundled away by police.

Also another commentary from heraldsun.com.au:

I don’t think we’ll soon forget seeing Australian police wrestling the Chinese “flame attendants” – actually members of China’s People’s Armed Police – in a confrontation over who had the right to guard the torch.

Priceless! Here was a rehearsal for the first Australia-China war, live on television. How I laughed.

I loved in particular how our nervous police tried repeatedly to shove those blue-tracksuited Chinese ones out of camera shot so at least viewers wouldn’t see they’d been conned by their politicians. I mean, weren’t we promised by our Prime Minister those Chinese guards wouldn’t be there?

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