Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fanning the fire

It is enlightening to see where the ACT government's priorities truly lie. Compare this quote (in The Age):
"The most important thing is the flame was never in danger, from start to finish, and that's an enormous credit to our federal police," [ACT government spokesman] Mr Lasek told Sky News.
With this (from the same news report):

"This gang of thugs rolled right through us and we had kids with us. My daughter was still shaking an hour later and is very quiet even now.

"I don't normally get angry but I am so angry right now."

I don't normally subscribe to the tendency to call protesters 'thugs' or like the media beat-up of any protest where altercations or scuffles occur, let alone where young children get harassed, but I can clearly understand where this father is coming from.

As the commotion grows over the behaviour of pro-China supporters rallying in support of the Olympic torch relay, and the inevitable comparisons are made with Tibetan and pro-Tibet rights protesters, I just want to point out that the ACT government and the Federal and ACT police apparently made their priority the safety of the Olympic flame, rather than the people who attended the relay, or who protested against China's human rights record in Tibet and in the Peoples Republic, or who came to rally in support of China's prestige and honour.

Apparently, as reported in that same news item,
A "relieved but elated" ACT government spokesman Jeremy Lasek said despite the arrests, the relay had been a "raging success".
I cannot accept a law-an-order approach that puts a higher priority on a bloody flame – however imbued with symbolism and spun with a web of political propaganda as it is – over people.

As far as I'm concerned, no fire is more sacred than the fire in children. I'd like to think that some of those in our state, territory and federal governments would appreciate that.

Oh, by the way, another observation. Just as not all Chinese protesters behaved like this, and not all people in China are like this, not all Tibetans are the Dalai Lama (just as not all Catholics are the Pope, surprisingly). Some Tibetans (and their supporters) want to take action, including direct action, to highlight and protest the injustices in their homeland, such as stand in the path of an Olympic torch bearer, heckle, protest loudly, or stand silently carrying a protest banner.

The father in the incident said that he just wanted to show his daughter 'the meaning of peaceful demonstration'.
"We were just a small group of people basically exercising our right, our responsibility to say 'We don't think this is correct'," he said.

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