Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reporters Without Borders calls for Olympic opener boycott

Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said it was "appalled" by the jailing of Chinese rights activist Hu Jia and called for a boycott of the opening of the Beijing Olympics in August.

The group said the three-and-a-half-year jail term for Hu, announced Thursday at a Beijing court, should also trigger a European Union decision to freeze its rights dialogue with China.

"Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the sentence," the group said in a statement late Thursday.

"The Chinese justice system has, at the behest of the authorities, thrown oil on the flames just four months ahead of the Olympic Games."

It called Hu "a figurehead of the peaceful struggle to improve respect for human rights in China," adding "the list of Olympic Games prisoners is getting longer while the International Olympic Committee remains desperately silent."

"In a sign of protest, we urge the European governments to immediately freeze the constructive dialogue on human rights that has been conducted with China for the past few years," it said.

"And we urge heads of state, heads of government and members of royal families to boycott the 8 August opening ceremony of the Beijing Games."

Hu, 34, was found guilty of "incitement to subvert state power", a charge that according to his lawyer was linked to posting articles on the Internet about human rights issues and speaking with foreign reporters.

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