Family held at Malaysia torch relay

Pro-Tibet activists clash with Chinese supporters during Olympic torch relay.

    The Japanese family arrested for unfurling the Tibetan flag was released without any charge [AFP]

    Strict security
    The Olympic torch was carried through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, under tight security, to avoid the chaos that has plagued the relay in Paris, London, Athens and San Francisco.

    Malaysian police had deployed 1,000 officers along the 16.5km route of the torch relay.

    Security concerns have forced the authorities in Indonesia, Australia and Japan, the torch's upcoming stops, to change or shorten their routes, with Indonesia opting to have spectators on an invitation-only basis.


    Malaysia had warned that anybody disrupting the torch

    relay would be arrested.

    Imran Jaafar, the president of the Olympic council of Malaysia, was the first to run with the torch, accompanied by

    uniformed policemen and motorcycle outriders.

    Jaafar said: "I am very excited, very honoured to be the first runner. The honour is not just for myself, but also

    for the country."

    Supporters clash

    Chinese say their country can not be split [AFP]

    Chinese nationals who gathered along the route shouted "Taiwan and Tibet belong to China" and "No one

    can split China".

    They attacked the Japanese family which unfurled the Tibetan flag at the beginning of the relay with plastic batons.

    Muhammad Sabtu Osman, Kuala Lumpur police chief, said: "They unfurled the Tibetan flag and a 'Free Tibet' banner,

    and were immediately taken to the police station, only for documentation purpose."

    Malaysian police said that the Japanese were released without any charges after six hours and were residents of

    Malaysia itself.

    Earlier, the torch relay had attracted anti-China protests during stopovers in Europe and the Americas, following

    China's crackdown on protesting Tibetans.

    Onward journey

    The Olympic torch now travels to Indonesia in its next leg.

    Indonesian organisers said that they would stage a shortened, invitation-only torch relay, under heavy security on

    Tuesday, to thwart any anti-China protests.

    Sumohadi Marsis, the organising committee head, said: "The steps were taken after pressure from the Chinese


    Marsis said: " The relay was originally scheduled to take place through the centre of Jakarta, the capital, but will

    now mostly follow the road that circles the city's main sport stadium."

    "Eighty torchbearers will run around the stadium about five times," said Marsis.

    Marsis said that 5,000 guests, mostly schoolchildren, would watch the 7km relay but members from public would be


    "We have to make it limited."

    The torch moves on from Indonesia to Australia and even Australian  organisers said the relay route had

    been shortened to avoid central and narrow streets where protests could be organized.

    Ted Quinlan, Australian torch relay organiser, said they had identified "

    hot spots" for protests and the route could

    be changed if protests got out of control.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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