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Police Detain Gay Rights Campaigner As Olympic Torch Is Paraded Through London


Tatchell briefly detained as he protests detention of Chinese Aids activist


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LONDON, April 6, 2008  –  Peter Tatchell, the gay human rights campaigner, was detained by police this afternoon in London as the Olympic torch was controversially paraded through the capital on its way to Beijing.  He was held for a short time before being released with a warning.

Mr. Tatchell was protesting the arrest and imprisonment last week of Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia, an Aids activist working in China’s gay community and beyond, who was convicted for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ by the Beijing Municipal No 1 Intermediate People’s Court and sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment

Hu Jia also campaigned for free speech, Tibetan autonomy, environmental protection, and for the human rights of the rural poor.

It was in Oxford Street outside Selfridges that Mr. Tatchell jumped in front of the slow-moving VIP bus accompanying the torch.

He jumped into the road carrying a placard: “Free Tibet; Free Hu Jia” – and shouting the same words.

Mr. Tatchell later pointed out to reporters that the arrest of Hu Jia is proof “that China is not fulfilling its human rights commitments which were part of the deal for them to get the Olympics”.

“At the very least, world leaders should boycott the opening ceremony and athletes should wear Tibetan flags when they go on the podium to receive their medals,” he suggested.

In a statement this evening, Mr. Tatchell said:

“Hu Jia exposed the Chinese government's cover up of the use of HIV contaminated blood, the lack of support and care for people with HIV, and he challenged social prejudice and discrimination against people with the virus.

"Hi Jia is a truly heroic figure, who has shown immense foresight, determination and bravery. He has kept campaigning, even though he knew it would put him at risk of arrest, torture and imprisonment.

“In jail, Hu Jia is likely to be mistreated, denied medical treatment for his hepatitis B infection and starved of proper food.

“Gordon Brown has shamed himself and Britain by greeting the Olympic torch at Downing Street, at a time when China is shooting dead Tibetan protesters and jailing and torturing hundreds of political prisoners,” added Mr Tatchell.

“It is hypocritical for the Prime Minister to boycott the Zimbabwean regime, but not the dictatorial regime in China. These double standards bring our government into disrepute.

“The UK should not be colluding with a police state like China. Attempts to gently persuade the Beijing leaders to stop their human rights abuses have failed. They are manipulating the Olympics. We must not allow them to exploit the Beijing games to divert attention from China’s abysmal human rights record.

“All countries that love freedom, democracy and liberty should refuse to host the Olympic torch and boycott the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.  Athletes should wear Tibetan flags during their events and on the podium when they collect their medals.

“China should be subjected to sporting protests in the same way that apartheid South Africa was subject to sporting protests.

“China is one the world's most vicious anti-worker regimes. It has poor labour laws. Employees have little protection against abuse. Independent trade unions are banned and their leaders jailed.

“To make way for new cities, millions of rural people have been forced off their land with little or no compensation. China is free market state capitalism at its worst.  The gap between the rich and poor is one of the widest of any country on earth.

“The idea that China is any longer a communist state is laughable. The Communist Party has become a new ruling class and a route to personal advancement, corruption and wealth aggrandisement.

“The Beijing leaders are new emperors who ride roughshod over their own people. They have almost total power and they abuse it to oppress and exploit the Chinese nation, in ways that are often similar to the old feudal and colonial powers of the nineteenth century,” the statement concluded.


Conviction of Human Rights Activist Betrays China's Olympic Promises – Amnesty.  Amnesty International reacted angrily to today’s news that a human rights defender has been sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment and one year political rights deprivation in China. (UK Gay News, April 3, 2008)


Peter Tatchell website

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.  

Posted: 6 April 2008 at 17:00 (UK time)
updated 18:30



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