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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

EU parliament president says Olympic boycott should not be ruled out

March 23, 2008

International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Saturday, March 22, 2008

BERLIN: The president of the European Parliament said in remarks
released Saturday that European countries should not rule out
threatening China with an Olympic boycott if violence continues in Tibet.

"Beijing must decide itself, it should immediately negotiate with the
Dalai Lama," Hans-Gert Poettering was quoted as saying by Germany's Bild
am Sonntag newspaper.

"If there continue to be no signals of compromise, I see boycott
measures as justified."

Protests started in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on the March 10
anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule and turned violent
four days later, touching off demonstrations among Tibetans in three
neighboring provinces.

Beijing has responded by smothering Tibetan areas with troops and
publishing a "Most Wanted" list of 21 protesters, appealing to people to
turn them in.

Beijing's official death toll from the rioting is now 22, but the Dalai
Lama's government-in-exile has said 99 Tibetans have been killed.

Poettering's comments came after French Foreign Minister Bernard
Kouchner last week backtracked from his own remarks that suggested he
was open to a mini-boycott of the Beijing Olympics by VIPs at the
opening ceremony, saying the proposal was "unrealistic."

But Poettering told Bild that "we should not rule out a boycott of the
Olympic Games in Beijing."

The European Union on Thursday said a boycott would be counterproductive
to efforts to improve human rights in China. "A boycott could signify
actually losing an opportunity to promote human rights and could, at the
same time, cause considerable harm to the population of China as a
whole," said a statement from Slovenia, which holds the EU's rotating
presidency.

Poettering said the European Parliament would be talking over the issue
midweek, and said he was pushing for European countries to "speak with
one voice on the defense of human rights in Tibet."

"China, for Europe, is an important partner ? in climate protection, for
example," Poettering told Bild. "Dialogue and cooperation are in the
interests of both sides, but the Tibetan people should not be allowed to
be made victims for it."

In other comments to Bild, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier did not rule out a boycott of the opening ceremonies of the
games by Western politicians.

"Only Beijing can decide this question," he was quoted as saying.

He added that he was going to be in touch with his Chinese counterparts
to talk about the situation in Tibet this weekend, and that he was
pushing for Beijing to allow foreign observers in.

"We want to know exactly is going on in Tibet," Steinmeier said. "China
hurts itself if it hinders foreign observers from getting their own
picture of the situation."
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