Thailand to Arrest and Deport Any Protesters at Saturday's Olympic Torch Run

Rather than hijack this thread about China and the Olympics any further – although it seems to have petered out anyway – I thought I would start a new one.

The Olympic Torch passes through Bangkok tomorrow (Saturday). It’s already arrived in Bangkok. This week, the Thai government announced that any protesters would be arrested, deported and permanently banned from the country. Anyone with Permanent Residency or naturalized-citizen status will have it revoked forever. Story here.

But just in case, the authorities have set a “flexible” route. Story here. There’s something on the planned route here. Starts at 3pm local time (0800 GMT) and is supposed to take three hours.

However, there ARE protest plans, by the Free Tibet Network and a coalition of Thai civil-society organizations. See here. They’ll hold a march, and the route is here. I THINK this is the same route as the relay, but I’m not sure.

I think I’m going to stay well away from the action. :frowning: But I’ll post the aftermath.

Okay, I see they’ve softened their initial rhetoric a little. It’s no longer ANY protesters like in their original announcement, but rather disruptive protesters. Still, I think I’ll be elsewhere.

It seemed to have gone off without incident yesterday. Story here. Not mentioned in the report is that pro-Chinese demonstrators vastly outnumbered pro-Tibet ones and that when someone tried to unfurl Tibetan flags, Chinese officials ripped them out of the protester’s hands; that was reported on BBC Television.

Was the route lined by Chinese security people? Why weren’t Thai police ripping the flags out of protesters’ hands? Or stopping the Chinese security from doing so?

I cannot answer your first question. The wife and I were off watching Street Kings while this was going on.

But reports are that these Chinese security officials have acted like thugs at best everywhere else – they pushed the head of London’s Olympic committee out of the way no less than three times, and he labelled them as such – and I’d be surprised if the Thai authorities would ever prevent Chinese security from having their way. These days, the Thai prime minister is almost always of Chinese ethnicity, and whenever he makes a state visit to China, the joke in the Letters to the Editor is always that he’s gone to pick up his orders. Thailand tries to maintain a fine balance between loyalty to China and loyalty to the US and so often gets accused of sucking up to both, and at the same time!

It could be worse. Nepal announced they would use deadly force against protestors.

There’s some sort of bizarre controversy in Bangkok now about missing and multiple torches. Story here. This is the first I’ve heard of this. Geez, how many torches ARE there? You know, I used to be naive enough to think they really did run one torch all around the world without hopscotching between cities by plane. The whole thing seems rather silly, and I hope they really do put an end to it.

EDIT: Ah, I see an earlier story here. Except now they’re saying no one grabbed it after all. How could there have been any doubt, what with all the security and eyes turned toward the runners? :confused: