2008 Beijing Games - Presence of Bush and (probably) Sarkozy at opening ceremony called "stab in back" for China's dissidents

    MONTREAL, July 4 /CNW Telbec/ - A White House announcement that US
President George W. Bush will attend the Olympic Games opening ceremony on
8 August in Beijing and the probability, according to French media reports,
that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will also attend were condemned today by
Reporters Without Borders as "a capitulation and stab in the back for China's
    "President Sarkozy promised to consult his European partners before
taking a decision but he clearly has not done so, just as he did not keep his
election campaign promises not to pursue a 'realpolitik' and to put human
rights at the heart of his programme," the press freedom organisation said.
    "Sarkozy also conditioned his attendance on a resumption of the dialogue
on Tibet, and meetings did indeed take place recently between China and the
Dalai Lama's representatives, but so far there have been no concrete results
and Chinese officials have continued their virulent criticism of Tibetan
leaders in the press.
    "Sarkozy and Bush are now depriving themselves of a means of leverage
that might have led to the release of imprisoned journalists and human rights
activists. We would like to know on what grounds these two presidents have
reached their decision. There is still a month to go before the start of the
2008 Olympics. Now is the time for a massive campaign for an improvement in
the situation of free expression in China. We appeal now for demonstrations
outside Chinese embassies all over the world during the Olympic Games opening
ceremony on 8 August.
    "As we do not have permission to go to China, still less to demonstrate
there, we will organise a cyber-demonstration outside a virtual version of
Beijing's Olympic Stadium on our website (www.rsf.org), which will begin on
8 August and will continue throughout the games. Everyone will be able to
participate in this protest and express their disagreement with the detention
of prisoners of conscience and the continuing crackdown on dissidents.
    "There has been no improvement in the situation of free expression in
recent months and arrests are continuing at the same pace," Reporters Without
Borders added. "Huang Qi, the well-known editor of a human rights website, was
arrested in June in Sichuan province, while journalist Sun Lin was given a
four-year prison sentence for contributing to a website based outside China."
    The announcement that President Bush and his wife will attend the opening
ceremony was made yesterday by the White House.
    The Elysée Palace has said that President Sarkozy will announce "whether
or not" he will go to Beijing after meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao
during the G-8 summit on 8-9 July in Japan. But the media have quoted various
French officials, including France's ambassador to China, as saying that
Sarkozy will definitely be in Beijing on 8 August. Sarkozy has also reportedly
said this to his party's legislators.
    Reporters Without Borders has for several months been calling for a
boycott of the 8 August Olympic Games opening ceremony by heads of state and
government and members of royal families. The governments of Poland, Estonia,
Austria and the Czech Republic have already announced that they will not send
any representative to the opening ceremony. Britain's Prince Charles was the
first to let it be known that he would not go to Beijing for the games.
    With a month to go to the Beijing Olympics, around 100 journalists,
cyber-dissidents, bloggers and Internet users are imprisoned in China. The
Chinese authorities have not kept the promises to improve respect for human
which they gave in 2001, when Beijing was chosen to host the 2008 Olympics.

For further information:

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

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