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France: Torch Relay Should Not Mask Olympic Rights Abuses French President and Paris Mayor Should Highlight Rights Violations in China

April 8, 2008

Human Rights Watch

(Paris, April 7, 2008) – President Nicolas Sarkozy and Paris Mayor
Bertrand Delanoë should use the occasion of the Olympic Torch’s passage
through Paris on Monday, April 7, to highlight ongoing abuses in China
linked to the Beijing Games, Human Rights Watch said today.

On March 25, French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested that he might
reconsider attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games, in
response to the Chinese government’s harsh crackdown on protests in
Tibet in recent weeks. On April 2, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë
announced that City Hall will display a banner supporting human rights
when the Olympic torch relay passes through the French capital because,
“Paris defends human rights all over the world.” A Chinese Foreign
Ministry spokeswoman responded by urging French politicians to “respect
the Olympic spirit, take a responsible attitude and refrain from
instigating disturbances to the Olympic torch relay at the violation of
the people’s wishes.”

“President Sarkozy and Mayor Delanoë should use the occasion of the
Olympic Torch’s passage in Paris to publicly condemn Olympic-related
human rights issues in China,” said Jean-Marie Fardeau, Human Rights
Watch’s Paris director. “Now is the moment to demonstrate how France
upholds its legacy as the author of human rights.”

Over the past year, Human Rights Watch has documented numerous human
rights abuses in China related to its hosting of the 2008 Summer Games,
including media and internet censorship, extrajudicial house arrests,
repression of civil society, abuses of migrant construction workers in
Beijing, forced evictions, and the ongoing crackdown on protests in
Tibet. Last week, leading human rights advocate Hu Jia was given a
three-and-a-half-year sentence for criticizing the Chinese government in
the context of the Games. Previously, Yang Chunlin received a five-year
sentence for having begun a petition entitled, “We want human rights,
not the Olympics.”

Human Rights Watch has called for the Olympic torch not to go through
the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, as scheduled on June 20-21 unless the
Chinese government agrees to an independent investigation into its
repression of protests there
( Human Rights
Watch has also urged heads of government who have been invited to the
opening or closing ceremonies of the Games to condition their attendance
on human rights improvements in China.

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on human rights in China, please

For more information, please contact:
In Paris, Jean-Marie Fardeau (French, English, Portuguese):
+33-1-41-92-09-92; or +33-6-86-48-29-91 (mobile)
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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