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Locke calls on NZ to join Olympic opening ceremony

11 April 2008

Locke calls on NZ to join Olympic opening ceremony boycott

Green Party MP Keith Locke has written to Prime Minister Helen Clark, urging the New Zealand Government to join the political boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony.

"We don't want to be left out in the cold following the European Parliament's vote yesterday for all European governments to boycott the opening ceremony, unless China begins talks with the Dalai Lama," says Mr Locke, the party's Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.

"I have written to Helen Clark asking her to advise the Governor-General Anand Satyanand and Sport Minister Clayton Cosgrove to cancel their plans to attend the opening ceremony.

"It would be a bad look for New Zealand, known as a promoter of human rights, to be one of the few democratic nations to have its political leaders represented at the opening ceremony.

"The Green Party doesn't favour boycotting the Olympics as such. We support the Dalai Lama's approach of using the occasion to highlight China's abysmal human rights record and try to get some improvement.

"However, the opening ceremony provides a golden opportunity for democratic governments to make a strong statement about their unhappiness with China's treatment of the Tibetan people.

"In the last two days the political boycott movement has escalated. British leader Gordon Brown has joined the German, Czech and Polish Prime Ministers in saying they won't go, and George Bush's presence is under challenge from all three Presidential hopefuls. Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Tutu has made a strong call for leaders not to attend, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says a scheduling problem will stop him being there."


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