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Crisis in Tibet

DW staff (kjb)
March 27, 2008

European parliamentarians offered Tibetans and their leader, the Dalai Lama, their full support in their conflict with the Chinese government. Most, however, rejected a full boycott of the Olympic Games.

Dalai Lama speaks in front of a Tibetan flag
"We declare our solidarity with the Dalai Lama," the EU's parliamentary president saidImage: AP

Speaking to the European Parliament in a special session called to address the Tibet crisis, Parliamentary President Hans-Gert Poettering on Wednesday, March 26, appealed to China to seek a solution to the unrest via dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Poettering also extended a clear invitation to the exiled spiritual leader.

"I put it to this house to join with me in saying that the Dalai Lama is welcome in this house whenever he wants to come," he said.

Poettering read out a message from the Dalai Lama, thanking the European Parliament for its "sympathy and support at a time of great difficulty for the people of Tibet."

Tibetan leader in Brussels

Chinese soldiers patrol in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa
Tibet's parliamentary leader said 135 deaths had occurred in the crackdownImage: AP

On a visit Wednesday to the EU Parliament in Brussels, the head of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile Karma Chopel told reporters that the number of confirmed deaths in China's crackdown on Tibet has risen to 135. China has reported 20 deaths.

"Killings and massacre are going on," said Chopel, who is to address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday. "It's high time for people to speak up for the legitimate rights of the Tibetan people."

EU leaders debate boycott options

Both the EU's Slovenian presidency and the European Commission rejected calls for a boycott of the Olympic Games, set to take place in August in Beijing.

"The presidency believes that a boycott of the Olympics in the year of intercultural dialogue would not be the right response to open political issues," said Slovenia's Secretary of State for European Affairs Janez Lenarcic. "It might also mean a loss of an opportunity to promote human rights."

Earlier on Wednesday, several MEPs advocated a complete boycott of the Games.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit
MEP Cohn-Bendit called for a boycottImage: AP

Greens leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit, donning a Reporters Without Borders t-shirt with handcuffs in the form of Olympic rings, compared the Beijing Games with those in Nazi Germany in 1936.

"The EU must altogether refuse to attend the opening ceremony, because it is a political act," Cohn-Bendit said during a parliamentary session.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is the only European leader who has suggested the possibility of a complete boycott of the Games. However, Poettering on Wednesday proposed a European boycott of the Aug. 8 opening ceremony.

"I genuinely say that all politicians must ask themselves whether they can attend the opening ceremony if China fails to take part in dialogue," he said.

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