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March 30, 2008
Merkel to Boycott Olympic Ceremony
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has become the first world leader to announce that she will boycott the Olympics in China.
Her actions follow a promised boycott of the opening and closing ceremonies by Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk and the Czech Republic's former leader Vaclav Havel. And according to The Guardian, other EU heads of state are considering similar action while Britain's Gordon Brown - like George Bush - remains committed to attending:
Hans-Gert Pöttering, the politician from Merkel's Christian Democratic party who chairs the European parliament, encouraged talk of an Olympic boycott this week and invited the Dalai Lama to address the chamber in Strasbourg, while another senior German Christian Democrat, Ruprecht Polenz, said a boycott should remain on the table. China's brutal crackdown on Tibet has caused Europeans to reflect on a similar situation back in 1936 when the world ignored Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews and others to take part in that Olympiad. The rest of the world became props in Hitler's propaganda coup.
"I cannot imagine German politicians attending the opening or closing ceremonies [if the Tibetan crackdown continued]," he said. Merkel enraged the Chinese leadership a few months ago by receiving the Dalai Lama in Berlin for private talks. Brown is to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader when he visits Britain in May, but is determined to be in Beijing.
"We are fully engaged in supporting the Olympics," said David Miliband, the foreign secretary. "We want to see it as a success, and I think it's right that the prime minister represents us."
Where is Bush? One would think that a nation dedicated to human liberty would be in the forefront of such a protest. But the president - like his counterpart in Britain - believes that rocking the boat with China is not a wise move at this time. It is a realistic and not idealistic position. But considering the president's grand statements about democracy and human rights, one would think he'd be at the forefront of any effort to highlight the plight of the Tibetan people.