Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Escorted by 3,000 policemen and by tens of thousands of spectators, the Olympic torch passed through Hong Kong with small clashes between supporters of China and those of Tibet, but without serious incidents. Meanwhile, the office of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala announces that tomorrow two of his envoys will be in Beijing to begin talks with Chinese representatives "to confront the current situation and bring peace to Tibet".
The torch passed between two lines of onlookers, kept apart by the police and by thousands of pro-China supporters, many of them wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Go China!". Other spectators raised posters calling for more democracy in China ("The Olympic flame for democracy", "One world, two dreams") and for independence for Tibet. There were exchanges of slogans and insults between the two groups, but the police prevented any true clashes, carrying away some of the activists holding the Tibetan flag. Special areas were created along the path of the torch, but at a distance, to contain the critics.
Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong of the Upper Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China expressed his hope that "the Chinese government can fulfil their pledge to improve human rights and foster democracy while they are holding the games" and that human rights activists will be released soon, like Hu Jia, condemned to three and a half years in prison for opinion crimes. Yiu-cheong's group was the object of harsh insults from supporters of Beijing. Lee Cheuk-yan, another member of the group, said that "This is our most difficult protest. In previous protests, sentiments were also high but people remained restrained and the process was orderly".
While the torch was passing, American actress Mia Farrow, speaking in Hong Kong, accused China of "underwriting the atrocities in Darfur through the oil revenues which now top 4 billion US dollars a year". "Some 70 percent of that money has been used to attack the population of Darfur", where since 2003 there have been more than 300,000 killed and 2 million displaced. She asked Beijing to "use its considerable influence [on Sudan] to change the course of history and put an end to the suffering in Darfur". "I don't believe for a second that Sudan could have continued this level of destruction against its own people for more than five years without the backing of a giant, and that giant is China". As a sign of protest, she called for a boycott of the opening ceremony of the games, and a boycott of some of the leading sponsors, like Coca-Cola.