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EU may boycott Beijing Olympics over 'cultural genocide' in Tibet

The European Union may boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics over "cultural genocide" in Tibet, the European Parliament's president said on Tuesday.
BRUSSELS, March 25 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union may boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics over "cultural genocide" in Tibet, the European Parliament's president said on Tuesday.

China's government launched a crackdown earlier this month against anti-Chinese protesters in Tibet that allegedly left 100 civilians dead. China's government puts the death toll at 19.

Two more deaths were reported on Tuesday in the Sichuan Province's Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture as protests continued to spread, according to a Xinhua news agency report.

"If there are no signals of compromise, then I believe the boycott measures would be justified," President Hans-Gert Pottering said in an interview with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

"We must not exclude the possibility of a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. We want them [the Games] to be a success, but not at the expense of the cultural genocide of Tibetans," the official added.

China has accused the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of attempting to sabotage the Beijing games by orchestrating protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and elsewhere. Protests began on March 10 to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in north India, has dismissed the allegations, saying he supports Beijing as a host city for the Olympics. However, speaking to reporters last week, he voiced concern that that many people rounded up in mass-arrests following the protests could face harsh reprisals and even execution as Beijing seeks to stamp out dissent.

He has also spoken of a "cultural genocide" in Tibet, telling reporters in India last week that, "There is an ancient cultural heritage that is facing serious danger. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place."

The last Olympics to see a boycott by major nations were the 1984 Los Angeles Games, when 16 nations, led by the Soviet Union, refused to participate.

The ceremony to light the Olympic flame was briefly interrupted on Monday as pro-Tibet demonstrators attempted to break through a police barricade in the small southwestern Greek town of Olympia.

Information on the recent protests and the authorities' crackdown measures remains hazy as foreign reporters are banned from hotspots in Tibet and nearby Chinese provinces. However, the AFP news agency said one of its reporters had travelled into blocked regions in the western Sichuan province, and seen a "huge military presence," including over 100 military vehicles.

The issue of Tibetan autonomy has long threatened to boil over into violent protests. Chinese troops first marched into the Himalayan kingdom in 1950, and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee to India in 1959, fearing arrest by Chinese authorities. He was accompanied by some 80,000 of his countrymen.

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