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Trial of Athens Olympic ceremony protesters delayed to appease China?

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(TibetanReview.net, Feb06’22) – A Greek court has on Feb 3 delayed the trial of three protesters, including a Canadian Tibetan student, who were arrested in Oct 2021 for protesting during the ceremony in Athens for lighting the flame for the controversial Beijing Winter Olympics which opened on Feb 4.

The trial, which was otherwise set to begin on Feb 3, has been postponed to Dec 2022 by the Pyrgos Crown Court in a bid to avoid embarrassing China, which is currently hosting the Games in its Capital Beijing, reported The Guardian Feb 5, citing human rights lawyers.

The report said lawyers for the legal aid group Justice Abroad had traveled to Greece from Britain to defend the protesters – who are British, American, and Tibetan Canadian.

“They pushed it into the long grass so as not to have to deliver a decision before the Beijing Olympics,” lawyer Michael Polak has said.

“The protest itself must have lasted less than a minute,” one of the protesters, Jason Leith, 34, has said. “Our aim was never to cause damage, and it is absurd to say that we did. All we had was a flag and a banner. We just wanted our voice to be heard in solidarity with all those oppressed by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Tibetan-Canadian Ms Chemi Lhamo, Mr Brit Jason Leith from London-Based campaign organisation Free Tibet, and Ms Fern MacDougal from the USA were arrested on Oct 18 after they crossed barriers and entered the area at the Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia where the now traditional Olympic flame-lighting ceremony was taking place in the Greek capital Athens.

In a video posted on Justice Abroad’s Facebook page, Polak has said the protesters “asked how Beijing can use the symbols of the Olympics and hold the Olympic Games whilst they commit genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Local lawyer Antonis Bachouros, who is also defending the protesters, has told The Guardian that the case was toward the end of a list of scheduled hearings but that the three-judge panel could have prioritized the case “given its sensitivity and seriousness.”

Alexis Anagnostakis, another local lawyer for the protesters, has said in the video that it was a “peaceful” protest “against violations of human rights in Tibet and elsewhere.”

“These activists deserve praise rather than handcuffs and criminal prosecutions,” he has added.

Awarding the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing remains as controversial as awarding the 2008 summer Games to the Chinese capital, with the difference that this time a large number of democratic countries have announced a diplomatic boycott of the global sporting event.

Ethnic groups and others representing victims of China’s systemic repression, human rights organizations, parliaments, and governments, as well as sport stars and personalities have criticized the International Olympic Committee for its decision to award the Games to Beijing despite fully knowing what the communist party state of China represents.

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