Thursday, April 3, 2008

Paris City Hall and athletes to highlight human rights during Olympic torch relay

A banner supporting human rights will be draped over Paris City Hall when the Olympic torch relay passes through the French capital on Monday.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said City Hall will display the banner because "Paris defends human rights all over the world."Delanoe spoke Wednesday at the announcement of the route for the torch relay which will start at the Eiffel Tower.

David Douillet, a two-time gold medalist in judo, said torch carriers will wear badges as a "distinctive sign" celebrating free expression, without saying what will be written on them.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) promised to protest China's crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet. Robert Menard, the group's president, condemned China as "the biggest prison in the world" and said his members would wear T-shirts during the relay with the five rings of the Olympic logo depicted as handcuffs.

"(There is) a contradiction between the International Olympic Committee and human rights," said Menard, adding that not enough has been done by France's Olympic Committee (CNOSF) to pressure the IOC over China. "The French Olympic Committee did not want us to reach an understanding with us (over Tibet)," said Menard, who was wearing the handcuffs T-shirt.

"We will take action the day of the procession."

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