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Protesters rappel down Chinese TV station’s wall, hang banner

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In one of the most brazen examples of ‘unsanctioned’ protests in Beijing to date during the Olympic games, two pro-Tibet demonstrators lowered themselves down the side of a China Central Television wall and unfurled a ‘Free Tibet’ banner on Friday.

Draped in Tibetan flags, Nicole Rycroft, a Canadian-Australian from Vancouver, Canada, and Philip Kirk, of Hertfordshire, UK, accomplished the feat with the aid of three Americans (Bianca Bockman of Hoboken, N.J., Sam Maron from Ossining, N.Y., and Kelly Osborne from Oklahoma City), according to the website freetibet2008.org.

With the help of three support people, two pro-Tibet activists rappeled from the top of a large Olympic billboard and unfurled a 375 square foot/115 square meter banner in front of Chinese state television’s new headquarters in Beijing early this morning. The activists dropped the banner, which read “Free Tibet” in English and Chinese, over an Olympics billboard reading “Beijing 2008” at 5:45 am Beijing time. Chinese security officials gathered quickly outside the China Central Television (CCTV) building. After approximately 30 minutes, officials detained the five activists, whose current whereabouts are unknown.

The Voice of America says that this is just one of many small unsanctioned protests that have occurred over the last week in support of Tibet. It is possible to have legal protests, according to the VOA, but officials haven’t announced how many there have been:

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Chinese public security authorities have not responded to faxed questions as to how many protest applications they have approved during the Olympics. All Chinese or foreign groups have to apply for permission to hold demonstrations in one of Beijing’s officially-designated protest parks.

After the jump, a larger photo of the pro-Tibet banner from a different angle.

Protesters climbed flag poles a week ago and unfurled Tibetan flags as the Games began.

-- Tony Pierce

Top photo: Oded Balilty/AP, Bottom photo: AFP/Getty Images


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