Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thai takes a stand on Beijing 2008 Olympic

M.R. Narisa Chakrabongse has withdrawn from a group of just six Thai torchbearers chosen by China to carry the Olympic Flame next month, to protest against the violent crackdown in Tibet.

The founder and chairwoman of Bangkok-based Green World Foundation, M.R. Narisa wrote that she "will not participate in the torch-running ceremony at the Beijing Olympic Games in response to the severe violation of human rights in Tibet."

She added that hoped she and GWF could "send a clear signal to China that its actions could not be accepted by the international community."

M.R. Narisa is one of only six green activists selected to carry the Olympic Flame when it arrives in Bangkok on April 19 under the "Green Olympics" theme.

M.R. Narisa wrote her forceful views in an open letter to the media, released on Saturday.

"The slaying of the Tibetans since the middle of March is an outright violation of human rights," the letter said. "It happened two weeks before the Olympic torch bearer leaves Athens and five months before the Olympics Games.

"This reflects the Chinese goernment's negligence of world sentiment."

The pullout from the cememony by M.R. Narisa will put heavy pressure on other Thai NGOs selected to participate in the torch relay in Thailand, because she has impeccable credentials as a leader of so-called green activities.

The other five are:

  • Admiral Kohlak Charoenrook, adviser to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environment
  • Pornwut Sarasin, vice-chairman of The Coca-Cola Foundation, Thailand
  • Sumet Tantivejkul, chairman of the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute
  • Thon Thamrongnawasawat, marine biologist and faculty of marine science at the Kasetsart University and
  • actress Ammara Siripong

    The GWF chairwoman was invited by Coca-Cola Thailand to participate in the torch ceremony at the Games to represent Thai conservationists and campaign for measures to combat global warming.

    Her open letter urged the Beijing government to urgently review its policy towards Tibet.

    In addition to the six green activists, China and local supporters selected 80 other Thais to carry the torch through Bangkok next month. Each runner is to carry the torch for 250 metres.

    The flame is to arrive in Bangkok on April 19 from Mumbai.

    It will be carried on a circular course in Bangkok which begins at the Odeon Circle and proceeds through Yaowaraj (Chinatown), New Road past the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, and the Royal Plaza.

    Bangkok is to pass the torch to Malaysia. The actual Games are to begin in Beijing on Aug 8. (, TNA)

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