Reporters Without Borders hails the protests by human rights activists in capitals around the world today as the Olympic Games opening ceremony was taking place in Beijing. “The presence of thousands of demonstrators proves that the issue of respect for human rights continues to be at the heart of the Beijing Games,” the press freedom organisation said.
“We appeal to the Chinese authorities to release political prisoners and to undertake to carry out concrete improvements in respect for rights and freedoms while the games are taking place,” the organisation added. “It is not too late.”
In response to a call from Reporters Without Borders, the 2008 Games China Collective, pro-Tibet groups, members of the China Democracy Party and representatives of the Burmese and Vietnamese communities, several hundred demonstrators marched in Paris from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. today to condemn human rights violations in China.
The Paris police had issued orders forbidding any demonstration near the Chinese embassy, but a Paris court quashed the orders this morning at the request of Reporters Without Borders.
Despite a large police presence, the demonstrators were able to gather outside Le Fouquet’s restaurant at the corner of Avenue Champs-Élysées and Avenue George V, from where they marched without incident to the corner of Rue de la Trémoille and Avenue George V, opposite the Chinese embassy.
A Reporters Without Borders supporter climbed the facade of a building opposite the embassy and hung one of the organisation’s “Beijing 2008" campaign flags. Parts of a radio programme which Reporters Without Borders broadcast clandestinely this morning in Beijing were played over a loudspeaker.
Around 100 people took part in a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Berlin. Diplomats inside saw the demonstrators march by.
In Italy, Reporters Without Borders staged a demonstration yesterday outside the town hall of Rome’s 4th district. Another demonstrations was held today outside the Palace of the Province, with many journalists looking on. The demonstrators began unfurling the Reporters Without Borders flag, showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs, on the facade of a building until they were stopped by the police.
In London, Reporters Without Borders activists joined members of pro-Tibet groups and Chinese pro-democracy activists in a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy.
Exiled Chinese dissidents, leading human rights activists and members of the Tibetan community were among those who participated in a Reporters Without Borders demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Washington DC. They also included US congressman Thaddeus McCotter, who is a staunch supporter of press freedom, and North Korean dissident Jin Jae-Ho, who has been on hunger strike for more than a week in protest against China’s treatment of North Korean refugees.
Reporters Without Borders representatives including its secretary-general, Rafael Jiménez Claudín, gathered outside the Chinese embassy in Madrid and tried to hand in a letter calling for the release of imprisoned Chinese journalists. An employee refused to take the letter, calling Reporters Without Borders an “enemy of the Chinese people.” In comments to journalists, Jiménez Claudín responded that “the main enemies of the Chinese people are certain leaders who (...) do not recognise civil liberties.”
More than 300 people, including members of the Reporters Without Borders Canadian section, parliamentarians and a former Canadian government minister, gathered outside the Chinese embassy in Ottawa yesterday to demand more freedom in China before the start of the Olympic Games.
Chinese pro-democracy activists demonstrated outside the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles on 7 August,
unfurling a large sheet showing the Reporters Without Borders design of Olympic rings as handcuffs.