Climbers held over Tibet banner protest in Beijing

Activists scale Chinese state television building to unveil banner reading ‘Free Tibet’ in latest protest over human rights record

 Jonathan Haynes and agencies

Friday August 15 2008

Pro Tibet activists unfurl a

Five people have been detained by police at the Olympics games in Beijing today after unfurling a banner in protest at China’s human rights record in Tibet.

Briton Philip Kirk, 24, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, and Australian-Canadian Nicole Rycroft, 41, climbed the distinctive China Central Television building to unfurl the banner.

Han Shan, Olympics campaign coordinator for campaign group Students for Free Tibet, said the banner read “Free Tibet” in English and Chinese.

Three other protesters were also detained as they watched the climbers in action. Shan named the three as Americans Bianca Bockman, 27, from Hoboken, New Jersey, Sam Maron, 22, from New York and Kelly Osbourne and said were acting as support and to ensure the safety of the climbers.

The pair abseiled down the building’s glass facade and hung their banner over an Olympics billboard with the slogan “Beijing 2008” at 5.45am local time.

The group was arrested around half an hour after the climbers were first spotted by security officials.

The building, which consists of two L-shaped high-rise towers linked at the top and the bottom, is the new headquarters of China’s state television service and was completed just before the start of the games.

Shan said Kirk, who had attended Swansea Metropolitan University, was an avid climber who worked in a climbing shop and also a photographer who had been an active member of the organisation for a number of years.

Tenzin Dorjee, deputy director of Students for a Free Tibet UK, said the organisation was “working closely” with the arrested activists. It was not clear where they were being held.

Today’s protest is the latest in a series of protests in the capital over alleged human rights abuses by the Chinese in Tibet. Last week two British Free Tibet campaigners – Iain Thom, 24, from Edinburgh, and Lucy Fairbrother, 23 – were deported after unfurling a 140-square-foot banner reading “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet” in Beijing.

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