Britons Arrested in Tibet Protest at Games Stadium; (1) Message: A Demonstrator Unfurls a Pro-Tibet Banner as a Policeman Looks on (2) No Sympathy: Police Outnumber a Protester near Tiananmen Square. Beijing Has 100,000 Police and Soldiers on Standby (3) Protest: Lucy Fairbrother Pictured in Tibet. She Was Arrested outside the Olympic Stadium

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 6, 2008 | Go to article overview

Britons Arrested in Tibet Protest at Games Stadium; (1) Message: A Demonstrator Unfurls a Pro-Tibet Banner as a Policeman Looks on (2) No Sympathy: Police Outnumber a Protester near Tiananmen Square. Beijing Has 100,000 Police and Soldiers on Standby (3) Protest: Lucy Fairbrother Pictured in Tibet. She Was Arrested outside the Olympic Stadium


Byline: KIRAN RANDHAWA, SHEKHAR BHATIA

TWO British activists were arrested outside the Olympic stadium in Beijing today as they launched a dramatic "Free Tibet" protest.

In the biggest security breach in the lead-up to the Games, Londoner Lucy Fairbrother the 23-year-old daughter of a City millionaire and Iain Thom, 24, from Edinburgh, joined two Americans in unfurling Tibetan flags and banners from 120ft lighting poles outside the "Bird's Nest" stadium.

The action outside the heavily guarded venue, which will host the opening ceremony on Friday, took place hours before the Olympic torch arrived in the city's Tiananmen Square.

After bypassing security officials, the activists climbed the posts with the flags and 140sqft banners. One banner parodied the official slogan of the Games "One World, One Dream", by adding the words "Free Tibet" and another read "Tibet will be free". A third banner in Chinese stated "Free Tibet".

The Britons were detained with Americans Phill Bartell, 34, a tattoo shop owner from Boulder, Colorado and Tirian Mink, 32, a construction manager from Portland, Oregon, at 7am local time, an hour after they began their demonstration.

Miss Fairbrother, a recent Bristol University graduate, became involved with the group Students for a Free Tibet after visiting the territory five years ago.

She has written of her love of the country and repeatedly demonstrated in Britain, including against the visit of Chinese president Hu Jintao in 2005 and the progress of the Olympic torch through London.

Her parents Linda, a broadcast journalist, and Jeremy, a former director of Barings bank said they were "fully supportive" of their daughter's actions.

Mrs Fairbrother, 58, who lives with her husband in a ?1.3 million house close to Cambridge University, said: "The Foreign Office have just phoned and told me Lucy has been detained. I knew very roughly what she was going to do there but I obviously didn't know the exact details. I knew she would be protesting but that was all she said she was allowed to tell us."

She added: "Lucy has been involved with Students for a Free Tibet for quite a long time and although as a parent I am very concerned about the consequences and implications of her being detained, I support her fighting for the freedom and democracy of Tibet."

Mrs Fairbrother, who has two other children, added: "The whole world is watching China so I doubt while she is in detention they will do anything drastic. In that sense I am less worried than I normally would be. …

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Britons Arrested in Tibet Protest at Games Stadium; (1) Message: A Demonstrator Unfurls a Pro-Tibet Banner as a Policeman Looks on (2) No Sympathy: Police Outnumber a Protester near Tiananmen Square. Beijing Has 100,000 Police and Soldiers on Standby (3) Protest: Lucy Fairbrother Pictured in Tibet. She Was Arrested outside the Olympic Stadium
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