ΜΠΟΥΚΟΤΑΖ στους Ολυμπιακούς του Πεκίνου ...

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Tα μεγαλύτερα πρακτορεία ειδήσεων αλλά και οι πλέον έγκυροι αρθρογράφοι του Διεθνούς Τύπου,μιλούν ανοιχτά για τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα στη Κίνα... και προτείνουν μπουκοτάζ στους Ολυμπιακούς του Πεκίνου...

PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that he cannot rule out the possibility he might boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics if China continues its crackdown in Tibet.

An official from France's state television company said the broadcaster would likely boycott the games if coverage was censored, and the European Union, United States, Australia and Canada urged China to show restraint as it tries to quell continuing unrest in its Tibetan areas.

Asked whether he supported a boycott, Sarkozy said he could "not close the door to any possibility." A spokesman for the president said Sarkozy was referring to a possible snub of the Aug. 8 opening ceremony.

"Our Chinese friends must understand the worldwide concern that there is about the question of Tibet, and I will adapt my response to the evolutions in the situation that will come, I hope, as rapidly as possible," the president said during a visit with a military regiment in southwest France.

Sarkozy also said he had told Chinese Presiden
Hu Jintao of his concern, asking for restraint, dialogue and the end of violence in Tibet.

Sarkozy also disclosed contacts between his office and that of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.

"I have an envoy who spoke to the authorities who are closest to the Dalai Lama," Sarkozy said. "I want dialogue to begin, and I will gauge my response on the response that the Chinese authorities give."

A Paris-based media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, last week appealed for an opening ceremony boycott by heads of state and government, as well as royalty -- an idea that has gained the support of many French.

Reporters Without Borders made headlines again Monday when three high-ranking members were arrested at the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony after unfurling a black banner showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs. Jean-Francois Julliard, the group's research director, welcomed Sarkozy's comments.

"We feel that things are starting to get moving, that political leaders are starting to change their attitudes," Julliard said in a telephone interview Tuesday. He was one of the three arrested in Greece and charged with "insulting national symbols."

He said that to his knowledge, Sarkozy was the first world leader to go so far in the boycott discussion. Prince Charles has said he will skip the Olympics.

At the White House, press secretary Dana Perino said President Bush still plans to attend the Olympics.

"We want everyone to refrain from violence. We believe that China should respect minority cultures, in particular in this case, the Tibetan culture," she said.

"Because (Bush) has a good relationship with President Hu, he then is also able to speak very frankly about our concerns about human rights and democracy," Perino added.

The sports director at France's main television company suggested Tuesday it could consider a boycott if Chinese government censors the footage.

"For the moment, we don't intend to boycott the games," Daniel Bilalian said on RTL Belgium radio. But, he added, if the games are "in any way censored or sanitized by the Chinese authorities ... that would obviously put our position in question."

"At that point, the president of France Televisions ... would without a doubt decide not to cover the Olympic Games," he said.

Violent protests in Tibet, the most serious challenge in almost two decades to China's rule in the region, are forcing human rights campaigners to re-examine their approach to the Aug. 8-24 Olympic Games.

The government says at least 22 people have died in Lhasa, while Tibetan rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans were killed, including 19 in Gansu province.

A protest in Sichuan province on Monday ended in a deadly clash between demonstrators and police, reportedly leaving a policeman and at least one monk dead.

More articles

Shine Olympic flame on rights


On a bitterly cold winter night in 1996, we returned to our modest hotel in Budapest, and discovered the dining room filled with square-jawed, broad-shouldered men toasting each other beneath faded pictures.

We had come upon a reunion of Hungary's national heroes.

Are you the guys who beat the Russians in that water polo game at the Melbourne Olympics, I asked?

It was likely the bloodiest match in the history of the sport, coming less than two months after the Soviet Union sent tanks to crush Hungary's bid for a measure of independence.

In response to my awkward question about whether they were delivering a "political message," one of the aging polo players beamed and replied: "We hit their noses!"

The issue of human rights has reared its head as Beijing prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.

What's the proper response when the youth of the world is summoned to the capital of a totalitarian state that oppresses its minorities and makes whoopee with the odious rulers of Myanmar (Burma) and the Sudan?

After agreeing to help stage the opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing, film director Steven Spielberg withdrew last week ... giving China the bloody nose of bad publicity.

The reason: Darfur, the Sudanese province where more than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been displaced since 2003. China buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports, sells arms to the regime in Khartoum, and has used its United Nations clout to support the Sudanese government.

"The situation has never been more precarious," Spielberg said, in a week when Sudan's air force had just bombed three villages. "While China's representatives have conveyed to me that they are working to end the terrible tragedy in Darfur, the grim realities of the suffering continue unabated."

The British Olympic Association has taken a radically different approach. It had planned to require that British athletes sign a gag order prohibiting them from criticizing China's human rights record during the games.

The proposed gag order goes far beyond International Olympic Committee rules barring any "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda" at Olympic venues.

With a nearby city preparing to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, Seattle ought to get in on the debate.

Our region has a history of human rights activism, from Sen. Henry Jackson's support for Soviet refuseniks to the numerous appearances by Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu at St. Mark's Cathedral. The Dalai Lama is due here in April.

With China, however, opportunities for commerce have trumped concern about excesses of communism.

We've hosted leaders of the People's Republic since Deng Xiaoping touched down, and was embraced by Sen. Jackson, back in 1979. China's then-President Jiang Zemin even broke bread at the Marysville home of a Boeing worker.

Dictatorships crave respect abroad. As with the Third Reich in 1936, and the Soviet Union in 1980, China is investing national prestige in the Olympics. The games are designed to showcase the country's emergence as a world power.

In the past, response has often been craven. U.S. Olympic Committee boss Avery Brundage, an America Firster, suppressed calls for a boycott of the Nazi Olympics. Two American Jewish athletes, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, were suddenly benched the day before they were scheduled to compete in the 4X100 relay.

The move to appease Nazi racial sensibilities backfired -- spectacularly. Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, both African-Americans, replaced Glickman and Stoller. Owens sprinted the final leg to earn his fourth gold medal.

The Hungarians' victory over their Soviet oppressors in 1956, in what became known as the "Blood in the Water" match, brought more attention to water polo than the sport has seen before or since.

Host governments do react differently. With the world watching, Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels forced a temporary cessation of the regime's anti-Semitic campaigns.

On the other hand, at the Plaza of Three Cultures in Mexico City, hundreds of students were shot and killed when they mounted a peaceful protest against the government's extravagant spending on the 1968 games.

With the Beijing Olympics, human rights activists have a duty to keep Darfur and Myanmar from being forgotten.

A total of 120 U.S. lawmakers have signed a letter urging President Hu Jintao to use his "significant influence" to help end the fighting and bring relief.

Olympic speed-skating champion Joey Cheek has co-founded Team Darfur: The group has signed up 250 athletes, 75 of them Americans.

And Olympians Shannon Shakespeare and Nikki Dryden delivered an open letter to China's United Nations offices.

"We are all aware of the tremendous potential for China to help bring an end to the conflict in Darfur," said the letter, signed by eight Nobel Peace Prize winners and 13 former Olympians.

If the dragon breathes fire at being prodded, so be it. After all, China leads the world in greenhouse gas emissions.

But to stay silent is to give consent.

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