(AFP) – Apr 5, 2008
PARIS (AFP) — French President Nicholas Sarkozy will boycott the opening of the Beijing Olympics unless China opens dialogue with the Dalai Lama and frees political prisoners, a French minister told Le Monde on Saturday.
Secretary of State for Human Rights Rama Yade said these conditions were "indispensable" for Sarkozy to attend the opening of the Games.
Sarkozy will announce his decision "after consulting with our European partners, because he will then be speaking as current president of the European Union," Yade told the daily newspaper.
"Nevertheless, three conditions are indispensable for him to go: an end to violence against the population and the release of political prisoners, light to be shed on the events in Tibet and the opening of dialogue with the Dalai Lama," Tibet's spiritual leader, she said.
France calls on China to undertake "a really constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama," she said. "These discussions should be about the recognition of Tibetan autonomy and the spiritual, religious and cultural identity of Tibetans."
The French minister said 132 Tibetan monks had been arrested last year for political reasons.
"At the moment, China practises a politics of assimilation by colonising Tibetan zones, which has marginalised its population," she added.
During his visit to London at the end of March, Sarkozy left the door open to a boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony.
"According to how the situation is looking at the time, I reserve the right to say whether or not I will attend the opening ceremony," he said.
In Saturday's Le Monde, Yade also demanded "the immediate release" of dissident Hu Jia.
Hu, a prominent AIDS and human rights activist, was jailed to three years and six months in prison on Thursday for 'incitement to subvert state power'.
"It's a real disappointment for us given we had multiplied our efforts on his behalf," Yade said.
"China without human rights will never be a true great power."
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