Bush ‘concern’ over Tibet as Games boycott list expands
From AFP – US President George W. Bush voiced concern over the crackdown in Tibet as another European leader Thursday vowed to shun the Beijing Olympics, which China says are being scuttled by the Dalai Lama.
A White House statement said Bush telephoned his Chinese counterpart and underscored the needs for talks between Beijing and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
“President Bush called President Hu Jintao today. The (US) president raised his concerns about the situation in Tibet and encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives and to allow access for journalists and diplomats,” the statement said.
But Hu told Bush the Dalai Lama must stop his “sabotage” of the Olympics before Beijing takes a decision on talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Thursday pledged to stay away from the games opening ceremony on August 8.
“I do not intend to take part in the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing,” Tusk told Poland’s Dziennik daily on Thursday.
“Poland is a medium-sized country and is not looking to be the first but my evaluation is very clear: the presence of politicians at the inauguration of the Olympics seems inappropriate,” Tusk said.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus also announced a personal boycott Wednesday, but said his decision was unlikely to weigh heavily on the Chinese government.
“I am not sure that the absence of a politician from the Olympic Games opening ceremony will serve as a warning. This applies even more so for a politician from a country that has 130 times fewer inhabitants,” he said.
US-based Human Rights Watch on Thursday called for an independent investigation of the unrest and said China must allow more access to the Himalayan region.
Tibet’s government-in-exile has said 140 people were killed in the unrest, while China has reported a total of 20 deaths.
“It’s very difficult to get accurate information about what’s going on there. We are calling for an independent investigation into Tibet to be able to ascertain what’s happening,” said Elaine Pearson, the group’s deputy director for Asia, who was on a visit to the Philippines.
She noted that while China had allowed a small press contingent into Tibet on Wednesday, their movements were tightly controlled.
“China should be allowing journalists to enter Tibet to be able to report what’s really going on there,” she said.
A group of top French athletes Thursday launched an open petition to Chinese President Hu, asking him to respect human rights and not “spoil the games,” according to the letter printed in Le Nouvel Observateur weekly.
The protests against China’s rule of Tibet began in Lhasa on March 10, the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
Four days later, the protests turned bloody and spread into other parts of Tibet.
A prominent Euro MP, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, has meanwhile called for “mayhem in Beijing” during the Olympic Games, with a boycott of the opening ceremony and high-profile protests over the Chinese crackdown.
“We have to make the Chinese Communists truly regret wanting to organize the Games,” the Green member of the European Parliament and a leader of the 1968 French student revolt, said.