Torch relay demonstrators allowed into Japan

April 25th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by admin  


Tokyo, April 25 (DPA) Reporters Without Borders secretary general Robert Menard arrived in Japan Friday to conduct a “peaceful protest” against China and to demand respect for human rights when the Olympic torch is carried through the central Japanese city of Nagano. A large group of members were expected to gather Saturday in the city to demonstrate as they distribute T-shirts and pins on the streets alongside the Beijing Olympic torch relay.

While promising to carry out a “peaceful demonstration that is respectful of the Japanese laws,” he said that he could not take responsibilities of others’ behaviour.

The members would demonstrate “as close as possible to the passage of the flame,” Menard said at a press conference Friday. But he stressed that the group would try its best to maintain its non-violent stance.

The 55-year-old French journalist said that the Paris-based organization is not pro-Tibet, subversive or political, but it just wants Chinese authorities to respect human rights.

Menard, however, said that the activists may stop their demonstration as soon as they hear that China has agreed to hold a dialogue with representatives of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

“We don’t ask for more than that,” Menard said. “We don’t interfere with inter-politics. What we want is the dialogue to be possible and to help people and the government start talking.”

The group, he said, is only seeking heads of state and government across the globe to take responsibility and boycott the opening ceremony. But it never sought athletes to boycott the games.

While Menard said he planned to hand Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda a list of 10 journalists imprisoned in China, he also urged Japan to stand firm as the world’s second-largest economy as well as an important neighbor of Asia’s giant.

He again urged Fukuda to speak clearly on the Tibet issues when Chinese Premier Hu Jintao visits Japan in May and to express his intention to cancel attendance at the Olympic opening ceremony unless the matters are resolved.

As the group’s secretary general, Menard said that Reporters Without Borders hopes human rights issues would be the top priority in choosing a city or a nation to host the Olympic Games in the future.

In 2014, he expected similar questions would be raised once again when Russia hosts the international games.

Reporters Without Borders April 7 hung a large protest banner on the Eiffel Tower and three of its members then chained themselves to the monument.

The group was at the heart of pro-Tibetan protests at the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece and has called for an international boycott of the August 8 opening ceremonies in Beijing.

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