Protesters target Chinese Embassy in Ottawa before Beijing Olympics
Protesters chained themselves to a fence, climbed light-posts and unfurled pro-Tibetan banners outside the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa on Wednesday, denouncing China's treatment of Tibetans two days before the Summer Olympics start in Beijing.
The protesters with Students for a Free Tibet said they were from Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and as far away as Vancouver. They demonstrated for about 90 minutes, but left on their own after speaking with Ottawa police. None will face charges.
Tsering Lama, national director for the student group, said the protest was intended to remind the international community to think about her home country.
"While the Chinese government gets ready to invite the entire world for a big celebration, they're using their other hand to repress six million Tibetans," she said, adding that she and other Tibetans in exile are not allowed to go to China to promote their message.
Meanwhile, she said, China is sending its own messages to the international community.
"They're using Tibetan people as dancers in the opening ceremony, they're using all kinds of propaganda to let the world think that the Tibetan people are happy under Chinese rule … We're here to tell our side and the truth."
Lama said police returned protest materials to the demonstration that included banners — reading "Tibetans are dying for freedom" and "One world, one dream, free Tibet" — and chains used to tether five Tibetan-Canadian protesters to the fence.
Tension arose briefly during the protest when a man slapped a cellphone out of the hand of a protester who was taking photographs. The man, who had himself been taking photographs, later told police he worked at the Chinese Embassy.
Chinese officials wanted police action
Chinese officials said they were not satisfied with the police response.
Huang Huikang, deputy head of the mission, said the protest disrupted official functions at the embassy.
"We demand that authorities and MPs take effective measures immediately and punish the violation of law," he said. "So many policemen are there but they are unable to do what they should do. They should immediately remove these people from our entrance."
Typically, protests don't cross to the same side of the street as the embassy itself.
RCMP Cpl. J.J. Hainey said police took the same approach as usual during the protest.
"The main goal…is to reach a conclusion that is as peaceful as possible, which was reached here," he said, adding that RCMP officers conduct regular patrols of embassies to ensure their security.
The protest was one of many around the world leading up to the Games, which run Aug. 8-24. Amnesty International said it would deliver a petition supported by 60,000 Canadians to the embassy at noon. The petition denounces human rights violations in China and the persecution of the Falun Gong movement.
Meanwhile, an international protest started by Israeli investment banker David Caifa in support of Tibet is to take place Thursday. Protesters plan to hold candle vigils around the world.