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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

France urged to support Games ceremony boycott as new head of European Council

June 23, 2008

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
June 20, 2008

Reporters Without Borders called today on France, as new president of
the European Council, and its European partners to say they would
boycott the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing on 8 August.

Members of the worldwide press freedom organisation unfurled a giant
100 sq.metre banner showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs across the
front of a building opposite the Brussels headquarters of the
Council, which began its new session today.

"Threatening to boycott the ceremony may be the only way to get
concrete results," it said. "If Europe does not take a stand, the
Chinese government will be able to dismiss future European Union
demands to improve human rights. The Olympic flame will be passing
through the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in a few days time and Europe's
political leaders will win respect by firmly calling now for greater
freedom of expression in China. Repression of journalists there has
not diminished and well-known dissident and blogger Huang Qi has just
been arrested again. It is urgent for Europe to speak up.

"French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said clearly that he will not
attend the ceremony unless talks resume between the government and
representatives of the Dalai Lama. The situation is deadlocked and
China rejected the recent United States and EU joint call for sincere
talks about Tibet as interference in its internal affairs. Beijing
also refuses to allow foreign journalists to visit Tibet and the
neighbouring Xinjiang autonomous region where mass arrests and
"re-education" operations are under way," Reporters Without Borders said.

"The competitors at the Games rightly say it is up the politicians,
not them, to sort out this tricky issue. The Council of Europe must
not pass up this historic chance to create the necessary conditions
to extract real progress from the Chinese government. The ruling
Communist Party will not always be able to get away with answering
legitimate demands to free political prisoners by drumming up
nationalistic fervour."

Reporters Without Borders has for several months been urging a
boycott of the opening ceremony by heads of state and government and
members of royal families. The Polish, Estonian, Austrian and Czech
governments have already agreed not to attend. Most EU states have
not yet taken a stand and are waiting for France to take the lead in
the name of Europe.

Reporters Without Borders is also calling on European institutions to
ask the International Olympic Committee to consider the criteria for
allowing countries to host future Olympic Games and to take account
of the local level of individual liberty, notably freedom of expression.

About 100 journalists, cyber-dissidents, bloggers and other Internet
users are currently imprisoned in China, with only two months to go
before the Games start. The Chinese government has not kept the
promises it made to improve human rights after Beijing was awarded
the 2008 Games in 2001.

For more on the Reporters Without Borders worldwide campaign
concerning the 2008 Games, see: www.rsf.org (in English, Chinese,
Spanish, French and Arabic).
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