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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

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

July 2, 2008

Reporters Without Borders (France)
June 30, 2008

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.
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