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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Activist offers to halt Games protests for talks

Staff writer

The secretary general of nongovernmental organization Reporters Without Borders said Friday that his group will halt all protests against the Beijing Olympic Games if China agrees to hold talks with Tibetan leaders.

News photo
Robert Menard

"If a dialogue begins (and) if it is proved that a dialogue is taking place, I would be happy to stop the campaign" against the Olympic Games, Robert Menard, a vocal critic of China's human rights abuses, said through an interpreter at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

China's Xinhua News Agency reported earlier Friday that the government has agreed to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

Menard arrived in Japan earlier in the day to stage protests against the Olympic torch relay in Nagano on Saturday.

The 55-year-old activist said his group is opposed to China holding the Olympic Games because of its human rights violations, including the bloody crackdown on Tibet and its oppression and censorship of antigovernment journalists.

The activist requested that China "respect the commitment they made" to honor its people's human rights when it was selected to host this year's games.

The group has urged the leaders of various nations to boycott the opening ceremony of the games and managed to get some of them, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to agree to do so.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda should consider a boycott as well "because Japan is the main economic partner of China and an important neighbor," Menard said.

Meanwhile, Menard revealed that he was questioned by immigration officers upon arriving at Narita International Airport on Friday and requested to sign a declaration that he would respect Japanese law while in the country.

Reporters Without Borders "will protest in a peaceful manner" at Nagano by only waving flags and passing out badges, he told reporters.

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The Japan Times

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