Edward Cody reports in the Washington Post:
China’s intense efforts to block any protest that would mar the Olympic Games were challenged Wednesday by foreign activists equally bent on diverting attention to issues as varied as Tibetan independence, the crisis in Darfur and religious freedom.
Two American and two British protesters slipped through a smothering Olympic security net, climbed a pair of lampposts and unfurled banners demanding freedom for Tibet near the new stadium where the Beijing Games are to open Friday night. In Tiananmen Square, three American Christian activists spoke out against China’s rights record and protested its population control policies. The four pro-Tibet protesters have been deported, while a second demonstration by Christian activists on Thursday was disrupted when plainclothes police removed the protesters from Tiananmen Square.
In Bangkok Thursday morning, President Bush spoke directly to the issue of human rights in China, hours before heading to the Chinese capital for the opening ceremony. “America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists,” he said.
Meanwhile, a day after Beijing revoked a visa for Darfur activist and former Olympian Joey Cheek, the U.S. Olympic team selected a Sudanese refugee to be the American delegation’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies, a move that will further highlight China’s role in the war-scarred region.