Tibet violence could spur Olympic opening boycott: Sarkozy
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Tuesday for China to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama over protests in Tibet, and has suggested that he might boycott the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing this August.
Speaking during a tour of southwestern France, Sarkozy said skipping the opening event of the games was one of several possible French diplomatic responses to the rising violence in Tibet and Tibetan areas of surrounding Chinese provinces.
"Our Chinese friends must understand the worldwide concern that there is about the question of Tibet, "he said, "and I will adapt my response to the evolutions in the situation that will come, I hope, as rapidly as possible."
Asked directly by journalists whether he supported a boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony, Sarkozy said he would "not close the door to any possibility."
Paris-based media freedom group Reporters Without Borders last week appealed for an opening ceremony boycott by heads of state and government, as well as royalty — an idea that has gained the support of many in France, where there has been rising criticism of Sarkozy for what was perceived as relative silence on the Tibet violence.
A spokesman for Reporters without Borders said Sarkozy was the first world leader to show that level of sympathy for the boycott appeal. Prince Charles has said he will skip the Olympics while the White House said last week that U.S. President George W. Bush still planned to attend the event.
Fresh violence against protestors
Meanwhile, at least two people were killed Tuesday during a demonstration by Tibetan protestors in Garze, a prefecture in China's Sichuan province.
The protest started on Monday as a peaceful march by monks and nuns but turned violent when armed police tried to suppress the crowd.
China's official Xinhua News Agency said protesters attacked police with knives and stones, killing one policeman. A Tibetan-rights group said an 18-year-old monk died and another was critically wounded after security agents fired live rounds.
Garze borders Tibet, where several days of anti-government protests led by monks spiralled into violence on March 14 in the capital, Lhasa.
Also on Tuesday, China's top police official called for stepped-up "patriotic education" in Tibet's monasteries to boost support for Beijing, state media reported.
The government says at least 22 people have died in Lhasa while Tibetan-rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans were killed, including 19 in the western province of Gansu.
The latest unrest indicates that Tibetan defiance is still running strong a week after thousands of Chinese troops fanned out in areas outside of Lhasa to clamp down on burgeoning sympathy protests.
The uprising is the broadest and most sustained against Chinese rule in almost two decades and the Communist leadership has accused Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his supporters of masterminding the dissent.
Meng Jianzhu, the minister of public security, ordered Tibet's security forces to remain on alert for further unrest and said "patriotic education" campaigns would be strengthened in monasteries, according to the Tibet Daily newspaper.
"The Dalai clique refuses to give up their evil designs, and even in their death throes are planning new acts of sabotage," Meng was quoted as saying Monday during a visit to Lhasa, referring to the Dalai Lama and his supporters.
With files from the Associated Press