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Thai police brace for anti-China torch protests PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 20 April 2008

HTML clipboardREUTERS, BANGKOK - Hundreds of Thai police braced for another round of anti-China protests on Saturday as the Olympic torch was readied for its parade through Bangkok, the latest leg of its troubled tour from Greece to Beijing.

Several groups angry at Beijing's human rights record and its rule in Tibet are planning demonstrations but will meet no opposition from police as long as they remain orderly, Thai Olympic chief General Yuthasak Sasiprapa said. "If they are peaceful, it's OK," he told Reuters.

"But we will not tolerate any violent or illegal protests. The torch and runners will be tightly escorted by police patrols and motorcycles all along the route."

The 10.5-km relay is due to start at 0800 GMT in the capital's China Town -- a reflection of Thailand's close social ties to its giant regional neighbour -- before proceeding past the golden-spired Grand Palace.

The main protest during the procession will be outside the regional headquarters of the United Nations, where a dozen pro-democracy groups say they will demonstrate against China's crackdown on unrest in Tibet in March.

Police Special Branch officers say they are also aware of a move by local supporters of Falun Gong, the religious group outlawed by Beijing, to voice their opposition to the Games, which open in Beijing on Aug. 8.

Several thousand police have been drafted in to protect the torch route, which has not been altered by security chiefs, although short-cuts and alternative paths have been made ready in case of any "unexpected incidents", Yuthasak said.

On the previous leg of the symbolic flame's swing through Asia, India had to deploy 15,000 police to keep at bay protesters from the world's largest community of exiled Tibetans.

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