Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Olympic Torch Anti-Freedom Farce Continues

Media Banned From Torch Relay Through Nation's Capital

Australia will get to see what the evening TV news is like in China during the Canberra leg of the fiasco-harassed Olympic torch relay on Thursday, after Beijing insisted on banning the general media from the event.

Channel Seven will have journalists there, Radio 2GB will have journalists there. But seeing as Channel Seven and Radio 2GB have exclusive broadcast rights for the 2008 Olympics, will we actually see any journalism?

If thousands of pro-China and pro-Tibet protesters come face to face in the streets of Canberra and get into it, how will it benefit either Channel Seven or Radio 2GB to give the violence the coverage it deserves? Will Channel Seven provide the rest of the media with Olympic Games-related rioting outside the nation's capital footage if they decide not to air it themselves? They are utterly compromised, and Beijing is insisting no other media be close enough to the actual torch relay to show what really happens.

Beijing can't stop the protests, but they can to, and apparently are being allowed, to limit the coverage :

Council for Civil Liberties national president Terry O'Gorman lammed the arrangements, saying there was a "clear conflict of interest" in allowing media companies with broadcast rights to the Games to produce most of the coverage.

"They've got an interest in promoting the Games and minimising any negative impact that the protests would have on the Games coverage," he said. A wider array of journalists, including from the print media, should be given access. "A picture in this case doesn't tell a thousand words; you need the words to tell the picture," he said.

How will the rest of Australia's corporate media respond to this crackdown on their freedom to cover history in their own country? Will they boycott the Olympics in protest? Not likely.

Another "wall of steel" and massive police deployment unfurls in an Australian city, with a promise from the prime minister himself of beatings from police for protesters who get out of line :
A great wall of steel has been erected along the entire Beijing Olympic torch relay route in Canberra, with the Prime Minister saying police would "come down like a ton of bricks" on protesters planning violent demonstrations.

Kevin Rudd's warning came as the cost of hosting Thursday's event doubled to almost $2 million.

"If any protesters, irrespective of their political point of view, engage in unruly, disorderly or violent behaviour, then the police will come down on them like a ton of bricks," Mr Rudd told the 7.30 Report last night.

A waist-high metal grille surrounded landmarks such as Parliament House, the National Art Gallery and the War Memorial.

"It's quite a blow to the innocence of our city but we must do it," the ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope.

The Australian torch relay organiser, Ted Quinlan, could not rule out smuggling the torch on to a bus if protests in Canberra got out of control. "The flame has to be mobile," he said. "Any major disruption could kill it."

The Olympic torch is like a shark now, is it? It has to keep moving or it will die?

There is clearly a concerted effort by Olympic organisers in Australia and Beijing to confuse the public over just how involved the infamous blue-tracksuit wearing Chinese paramilitary will be during the Olympic torch relay in Canberra.

China is sending 30 of these official "flame attendants" to Canberra, and we are told they will follow the torch, in a bus, with at least one riding directly behind the relay runners on an ACT police motorbike.

The story, for now, is that the Chinese paramilitary will only come off the bus when the torch is handed from one relay participant to another, there is a lot of re-lighting to be done. But the torch changes hands about every 200 metres. Right. So every two hundred or so metres on the sixteen kilometre route, the bus will stop, the paramilitary will file off, stand around, attend to the flame and then it's back on the bus again, for another few seconds of travel.

They're going to get on and off the bus around 70 or 80 times, are they?

Of course they're going to be running with the torch, when it's not being transported on the bus that is. There will also be a solid turn out of Chinese security agents and videographers amongst the pro-Tibet protesters. Every single one of them have their image and movements captured by Chinese intelligence and immediately databased in Beijing.

The ACT and federal police, at least, do sound like they won't be putting up with any of the scenes in London and other city tours of the torch where the Chinese paramilitary took a front line role in violently dealing with protesters.

Police claim they will charge any foreign security agent who lays a hand on a protester. That's their job.

But if only Channel Seven and a radio station are allowed to directly witness what is actually going on inside the moving flesh wall of security, how will we know our police are keeping their word?

Let's hope it all goes down peacefully.