2008 Beijing Games - Has President Sarkozy decided to break his promise to the French and attend the inauguration of the Olympic Games?

    MONTREAL, June 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Reports suggest that French President
Nicolas Sarkozy has already secretly decided to attend the Olympic Games
opening ceremony in Beijing on 8 August, despite his promise to consult his
European partners on the subject and to take a decision in accordance with the
progress made in the dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama.
    "On what basis have you decided to go to Beijing?" Reporters Without
Borders asks President Sarkozy. "On the progress in the dialogue between China
and the Dalai Lama's representatives? The dialogue has deadlocked and the
recent Lhasa leg of the Olympic torch relay was marked by a new declaration of
war by Chinese officials against Tibetans who support the Dalai Lama. On an
improvement in human rights in China? Arrests are on the increase and the
government has not responded to any of the European requests for the release
of prisoners of conscience.
    "Mr. President, surely you have not dared to break your promise to attend
the opening ceremony only if the Chinese kept their promises? Or have you
succumbed to the anti-French demonstrations that were orchestrated by the
Chinese government? What a sad image France would present if it were to submit
to blackmail by a government that continues to flout its people's right to
express their views!
    "As you are to take over the European Union's rotating presidency
tomorrow, you must surely be aware that the European Parliament adopted a
resolution on 10 April asking you not to attend this ceremony if the Chinese
authorities did not agree to resume a proper dialogue with the Tibetans."
    In April, when repeatedly pressed on the subject, Sarkozy conditioned his
attendance at the opening ceremony on a resumption of dialogue between China
and the Dalai Lama's representatives. Meetings did take place but the process
has been frozen since May. And when the United States and the European Union
recently issued a joint appeal for "results-oriented" talks on Tibet, it was
rejected by China as meddling in its internal affairs. The Chinese authorities
are also barring foreign journalists from Tibet while massive roundups and
reeducation campaigns continue.
    There are reports that indicate that Sarkozy may take advantage of the
G-8 summit on 8-9 July in Japan to announce to his Chinese counterpart, Hu
Jintao, that he will attend the opening ceremony of the games. Several French
officials including France's ambassador in Beijing have told journalists that
Sarkozy will be in Beijing on 8 August.
    This decision seems to have been taken despite the fact that come EU
countries, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Austria, have
come out in favour of boycotting the opening ceremony.
    A petition signed by 6,500 Internet users calling on Sarkozy not to go to
Beijing on 8 August has been handed in to the Elysée Palace by Reporters
Without Borders. A total of 53 Members of the European Parliament have also
signed a similar appeal organised by Reporters Without Borders.
    With less than a month and a half to go to the start of the games, around
100 journalists, cyber-dissidents, bloggers and Internet users are still
imprisoned in China. The Chinese authorities have never kept the human rights
promises they gave in 2001 when Beijing was chosen to host the 2008 games.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Secretary General,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org,

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