Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard gave a news conference at the organisation’s Paris headquarters yesterday to condemn the “shameful” security measures that have been prepared for the Olympic torch relay’s passage through Paris tomorrow.
“Thirty-two riot police and gendarme trucks, 65 motorcycle policemen, a helicopter and boats on the Seine - not even a visiting head of state gets that,” Ménard said. “All that is missing is an appeal to Parisians to stay at home along the lines established in Beijing, where only officials welcomed the Olympic torch on a Tiananmen Square emptied of passers-by. And you will have noticed that it was the Chinese minister of state security, the official responsible for repression in China, who was at the airport for the torch’s arrival.”
Reporters Without Borders has decided not to try to stage any protest near the Olympic torch. “We do not want any gesture to be misinterpreted,” Ménard said. “We do not want people to be able to say that we are the ones who use violence. We are not trouble-makers or agitators.” Ménard nonetheless promised “symbolic and spectacular” protests while the Olympic torch relay is in Paris.
Meanwhile, a new opinion poll released yesterday confirms that most French people support the idea of a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremony by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. A total of 62 per cent of the people questioned support this campaign call issued by Reporters Without Borders, up from 53 per cent on 19-20 March.
Reporters Without Borders calls on Parisians to go to the foot of the Eiffel Tower at midday dressed in black or wearing the T-shirt with the Olympic rings replaced by handcuffs in order to show support for human rights in China and Tibet.