Olympic Flame in London: yeah but, sport and politics don't mix!

We spent the day charging round London following the Olympic flame. It was the most powerful protest I have ever been a part of, with thousands of people enraged with Chinas human rights abuses and enraged at the Olympic committees tolerance of 7 years of broken promise. People were there on behalf of Tibet, on behalf of Darfur, Burma, even Zimbabwe (Chinese government has given billions to continue Mugabe's tyranny) and of course violations within China.

Some of todays sights and conversations will never leave me; standing with flags held high, a young guys stereo pouring out a Tibetan lament as rank upon rank of police gather to protect the flame, a middle aged women in a suit scrambling over the barrier as passion engulfed her, teenagers, grey haired guys and my husband running for miles alongside the flame on the Stratford leg calling Shame, Shame, Shame. For me 'shame' summed up today, and not just because it rhymes so nicely with 'flame'. Shame on the Chinese government for oppressing their people and the people of other nations, shame on Brown for turning a blind eye, shame on the International Olympic Committee for not holding China to account and Shame on the Olympics Association in the UK for gagging our athletes.
Yet still, today I felt a renewed faith in human kind as we raised our voices together to scream ourselves hoarse in the name of justice.

Interesting things that don;t exactly fit anywhere in this post:
  • An overview of the day by Angry Chinese blogger
  • A clarification: Anti- China protests? No, mate. China has some great stuff going on, first climate neutral city, great basic public education and health services, and Chinese people are for the most part I imagine, although I only know a small number, wonderful. This was an Anti-Human Rights Abuse protest and nothing else.
A couple of decades ago crowds of brave Kiwis stood up to the tour of the South African rugby team during Apartheid. The message was so strong that it became a part of a global pressure on that diabolical racist regime. Who said sports and politics shouldn't mix?Our SHAME sign (blood splatted A)

Thousands gather to meet the flame at the 02
The last leg: the protection was 4 people deep.


MALC0LM said...

nice one Lucy.
I support your support of those protesting against the people supporting the thing in the country that is supporting governments that are doing dumb stuff, and is doing some dumb stuff itself. If the flame came to Cork......
Hope things are well with you and your buddy Tim. My Buddie Amanda is good and we are having fun in cork. We want to come visit, but money doesnt grow like our veges are.

Howard said...

Hi Lucy,
Long time no speak (or type). I'm glad your protest was loud but measured but I have to say the whole Olympic Torch fiasco made me very angry.

Whatever a persons political views may be (and I'm not a fan of the Chinese), what right has anyone to stop someone else doing what they want to do.

Noisy protest yes, flags and banners yes. Forcing the Police to create a ring of steel around an athlete so some idiot wont either assault them with a fire extinguisher or attempt to steal the torch is quite frankly disgraceful and it made me ashamed to be British.

I'm not sure the sight of so many police having to protect someones legal right to do what they want to do is a very good advert for human rights.

The trouble with protests of any kind these days is that they seem to attract idiots who have no real understanding of the issue or the best way of making their point. Its just a good excuse for a punch up or to get on the telly for a few minutes.

Rant over - I'm sure you were all very well behaved!

lucy ar said...

Ashamed to be British, really? The Olympic Commitees gagging of the athletes so that they could not use the Olympics as a platform to speak out made me ashamed to be British. Hmmm and I'm not sure you would have counted me as well behaved either. The fact is that it was basically the people that broke the barricades that made the media and got any of the issues air time at all.
The protests have resulted in bringing some shame on Chinese government- exactly what was intended. I am just not convinced that standing on the sidelines and watching the flame go by would have done that.
The Kiwi protest of South African rugby tour was only successful because they broke through the boundaries and performed a sit- in on the playing field, preventing some of the athletes from their right to play rugby, but also telling the Apartheid regime that the world is watching and won't co-operate. It is a pity that the athletes suffer for it may be, but I imagine it is probably a price worth paying?
Hmm, just a couple of my thoughts anyway. Hope you are well!