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Published:March 24th, 2008 07:30 EST
Lighting Ceremony for Beijing Olympic Games Disrupted

Lighting Ceremony for Beijing Olympic Games Disrupted

By SOP newswire

Human rights activists got past tight security and tried to disrupt the torch lighting ceremony for the Beijing Olympic Games Monday, in Ancient Olympia, Greece.

Three members of the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders unfurled a flag at the ceremony and demanded a boycott of the Beijing Games. Their protest disrupted the speech of China's Olympic organizing committee chief, Liu Qi, but they were quickly taken into custody and removed from the scene.

Moments later, as the relay torch began to move down Olympia's streets, a Tibetan woman covered herself in red paint and lay in the road in front of a runner carrying the flame. Others chanted pro-Tibet slogans.

As the Olympics near, activist groups are stepping up their protests of China's human rights record and its recent crackdown on protests in and around Tibet.

Pro-Tibet activists have demanded that the International Olympic Committee cancel the Tibetan leg of the Beijing Olympics' torch relay.

IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters Monday in Ancient Olympia that the Olympic body is concerned about the violence in Tibet. In an interview with the Associated Press, Rogge said he is engaged in "silent diplomacy" with China on Tibet and other human rights issues.

Rogge has declined to condemn Beijing. He says the Olympics should remain non-political. But he also says the IOC joins world leaders in calling for a peaceful resolution of the situation in Tibet.

After Monday's ceremony in Greece, the torch will travel to Beijing, and on March 31, it will set off on its journey around the world. The torch is expected to be taken to the top of Mount Everest some time in early May.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.