Protests planned outside Chinese embassies in seven capitals to coincide with Olympic Games opening ceremony
Reporters Without Borders today asked a Paris court to suspend two orders issued yesterday by the Paris police banning the press freedom organisation from staging a protest outside the Chinese embassy and consulate in Paris at any time between 7 a.m. today and midnight tomorrow.
“People make fun of China for restricting the places for demonstrations in Beijing, but France is doing exactly the same,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Paris police have banned any demonstration near the Chinese embassy on the grounds that a demonstration has already been authorised on the Trocadero esplanade, which has become a sort of human rights ghetto.
“We are organising demonstrations in nine countries tomorrow to coincide with the Olympic Games opening ceremony. Seven of these demonstrations are to be held outside Chinese embassies. Permission has been given for all of them except the one in Paris. Such excessive zeal on the part of the Paris police is outrageous.
“We are challenging these orders before the courts because we think we have a right to demonstrate peacefully outside the embassy of any country that does not respect human rights. We hope the judge will take this into account and will recognise the non-violent nature of Reporters Without Borders’ protests.”
Two plain-clothes policemen came to the Reporters Without Borders office in Paris yesterday evening to inform the organisation of the existence of two police orders banning its planned demonstration. The orders say that because of “demonstrations organised during the Olympic torch relay in Paris on 7 April... that resulted in outbreaks of violence ... any demonstration envisaged between 7 a.m. on 7 August and midnight on 8 August is forbidden” near the Chinese embassy and consulate.
The police orders also claim that “the aim of these demonstration could be perceived by part of the local population as a provocations likely to elicit hostile reactions that could result in serious public order disturbances.”
Around 100 journalists, cyber-dissidents, bloggers and netizens are still imprisoned in China on the eve of the Olympic Games. The Chinese government has not kept the promises to improve respect for human rights that it made in 2001, when Beijing was chosen to host the 2008 Olympics.
More information (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish) about the Reporters Without Borders international campaign concerning the 2008 Olympic Games is available on the organisation’s website (www.rsf.org).